Penguins Begin December Schedule at Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday

Jen Wendler (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Jen Wendler (Photo by Rob Hayes)

Game Preview

  • After a nine-day break surrounding Thanksgiving, Youngstown State begins a stretch of three straight road games on Tuesday at Eastern Kentucky. Tipoff at McBrayer Arena is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN, iHeartRadio, ESPN+ and WatchESPN.
  • The Penguins went 3-3 in November and finished the month with a 65-42 win over Wagner on Nov. 23. YSU surrendered just 10 points to the Seahawks in the first half, and four Penguin starters scored in double figures in the win.
  • YSU could have a pretty different look in spells of Tuesday's game. Injuries to forwards Mary Dunn, Emma VanZanten and Amara Chikwe had the Penguins down to just one player over 5-foot-10 against Wagner, and Coach John Barnes said at last week's press conference that YSU would spend time over the nine-day break to install some new five-guard sets in case the injuries are long term.
  • Junior guard Chelsea Olson collected her third double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds against Wagner. She leads the Horizon League in rebounds per game (9.4) and ranks fourth in assists per game (4.0). She posted YSU's first triple-double in 33 years in the season opener when she had 13 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds against Canisius.
  • Freshman Maddie Schires leads the Horizon League with 15 3-pointers and 2.5 3-pointers per game. She has made at least one trey in each of the first six games. Schires one of nine freshmen in the country averaging at least 2.5 triples per game.
  • YSU has shown balance on the offensive end as nine different players have scored in double figures in at least one of the first six games. Six of the nine players are newcomers.
  • The Penguins are coming off perhaps their best season under seventh-year head coach John Barnes as they went 22-10, set school records for Horizon League (13) and home (16) victories, and earned an at-large berth into the WNIT. Barnes received a contract extension through the 2023-24 season over the summer.
  • YSU has just three players on its 14-member roster who averaged more than 20 minutes per game last season — Dunn, Olson and McKenah Peters. Dunn is the program's lone senior, and Olson and Peters are the only other players with more than two years of experience at YSU.
  • Dunn was named to the Preseason Horizon League First Team, and Olson was a second-team pick. Those are the same accolades that Dunn and Olson received at the end of 2018-19.
  • YSU will be looking to play in its sixth postseason tournament in the last eight seasons. The Penguins earned an at-large berth into the Women's NIT last season, and they also played in the tournament in 2013 and 2015. YSU played in the Women's Basketball Invitational in 2016 and 2018.
  • Youngstown State has led the Horizon League in 3-pointers per game in each of the last five seasons. The Penguins are one of 13 teams in the country to make at least 200 3-pointers in every season since 2010-11.
  • YSU is also aiming to win at least 20 games for the fifth time in the last eight seasons. The Penguins have won 20 games three times in Barnes' six seasons.

YSU at Eastern Kentucky

A Win Would...

  • Give YSU a 4-3 record this season.
  • Be YSU's first road win of the campaign.
  • Give the Penguins their first win at EKU since 1988.

Scouting the Colonels

  • Eastern Kentucky already has three more wins in 2019-20 than it did last season under first-year head coach Samantha williams. The Colonels were 2-27 and lost their final 18 games last season, but they are 5-2 this season. Their wins are against Horizon League member Northern Kentucky, Memphis, Mercer, Alice Lloyd College and Chattanooga. Each of their four Division I wins have been by seven points or fewer.
  • Eastern Kentucky has done well in the first and fourth periods this season, outscoring its opponents 108-87 (+21) in the first period and 141-126 (+15) in the fourth. EKU is also plus-seven in the third period but minus-40 in the second period.
  • Bria Bass leads EKU in scoring with 12 points per game, and she and NKU transfer Samari Mowbray both have a team-best 10 3-pointers. Qya Stanton has team highs of 22 assists and 11 steals.

Series History: YSU vs. Eastern Kentucky

Overall: Youngstown State leads 7-6
Barnes: 0-0 // Home: 4-3 // Away: 2-3 // Neutral: 1-0
Current Win Streak: 3 by Youngstown State

  • Youngstown State is playing old Ohio Valley Conference foe Eastern Kentucky for the first time since the 1987-88 season. The Penguins and Colonels played 13 times between the 1980-81 and 1987-88 seasons, and 10 of those contests were in OVC play.
  • EKU won five straight meetings from 1983-85, but the Penguins won five of the next six before the series took a 31-year break. This is the start of a home-and-home series with the Colonels.

Last Time vs. Eastern Kentucky

Dorothy Bowers posted a double-double with 28 points and 15 rebounds, and Youngstown State pulled away in the second half to win 90-65 in the last meeting with EKU on Feb. 27, 1998, at Beeghly Center.

Margaret Somple added 18 points, and Carol Nee contributed 14 assists to go along with 12 points.

On This Day

  • YSU is 5-5 in 10 previous contests played on Dec. 3. The Penguins last played on the date in 2016 when they beat Saint Francis U 69-68. Indiya Benjamin scored five points in the final minute as YSU trailed 64-59 with 1:35 left.
  • Liz Hauger scored her 1,000th career point against Akron on Dec. 3, 1996, and Kristi Echelberry had a 20-rebound effort against Sam Houston State on Dec. 3, 1993.

Recapping Wagner

  • Youngstown State allowed just 10 first-half points and led for more than 39 minutes in a 64-42 win over Wagner on Nov. 23 at Beeghly Center.
  • The Seahawks went 1-for-17 from the field in the first period, 4-for-32 overall in the first half and 0-for-12 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The 10 points tied for the second-fewest allowed in the first half in program history.
  • Youngstown State led 13-2 at the end of the first quarter and 32-10 at halftime. Both teams scored 32 points in the second half, and YSU's lead was as high as 30 at 42-12 and 44-14. The Penguins led by at least 16 for the final 24 minutes.
  • The 42 points allowed was a big improvement from the previous two games when the Penguins surrendered 77 points to Eastern Michigan and 91 at Akron.
  • Wagner shot just 22.4 percent for the game. That was the lowest mark by an opponent since UIC shot 19 percent at Beeghly Center on Jan. 3, 2019. It was the second time this season that an opponent shot under 30 percent (Canisius).
  • Chelsea Olson scored 18 points and added 11 rebounds for her third double-double. Three other YSU starters also reached double figures as McKenah Peters had 15, Maddie Schires scored 12 and Jen Wendler scored a career-best 10.
  • Olson, Peters and Schires combined to make 11 3-pointers. Peters and Schires matched their career highs with four 3-pointers.
  • The Penguins held Wagner leading scorer Emilija Krista Grava to four points, 17 below her average coming into the game.
  • The Seahawks missed their final 14 attempts from the field in the first quarter and their first three attempts of the second quarter.

Up Next

  • Youngstown State will continue its three-game road stretch at Saint Francis U on Saturday. Tipoff at DeGol Arena in Loretto, Pa., is set for 2 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on 1390 WNIO and NEC Front Row.