With the Holiday Season in the air on the Eve of Thanksgiving, Youngstown State’s Lady Penguins were scraping for reasons to be thankful. The team had not won a game in its last 34 attempts, or 627 days, although seem much improved over last season. Drought Be Gone! The Lady Penguins used 87.5% free throw shooting and some hustle from the role players to get by Bucknell.
Bucknell lost 71-45 the last time these two teams met in 1992. The margin would not be quite as big but was meaningful in so many ways. It marked Bob Boldon‘s first victory as new coach. It broke the drought of 34 losses in a row. Perhaps the most important thing the win did was give a group of scrappy girls who never quit an inkling of confidence to build on.
In a statistically even first half, the Penguins looked better on offense than they had Saturday against IPFW, yet trailed 30-27. Brandi Brown was doing her best to end the drought with six boards and seven points at intermission. Newcomer Heidi Schlegel also had seven for the Penguins at the break. Bucknell was paced by Joyce Novacek‘s nine points and five rebounds.
Monica Touvelle hit a three-pointer at the 15:29 mark of the second half to give YSU a five point lead at 39-34. Next trip down the floor, Kenya Middlebrooks drilled a three, and at the 13:52 mark, the Penguins were in front by the score of 42-38. YSU held the lead until the 11:20 mark when Cosima Higham drove the lane to put the Bison up by a point, 45-44.
Liz Hornberger his a three from the corner to give the Penguins back the lead at 49-47 with 10:23 to go. Hornberger hit her second three of the half to put YSU back on top 52-50. Middlebrooks extended the lead with her ninth point of the night to extend the lead to 54-50 with 7:06 left in the game, and hold the phones, the chilled champagne might get uncorked in Youngstown.
With 5:36 left, Schlegel kept the Penguins safely ahead with her drive to the hoop that made it 57-53. YSU was getting some bounces, finally, and upped their lead to 60-53 on a pair of Macey Nortey free throws as the Penguins were 15-18 from the line to this point.
With 1:54 left in the game, Youngstown State enjoyed a 64-55 lead and was just looking to run the clock out. Free throw shooting was great all night and Schlegel hit a pair to move the lead to 66-55 with just over a minute left in the game. Nortey stepped up and followed suit with a pair to make it 68-55. The Penguins went 21-24 from the line to get the win and improve to 1-3 on the season.
After the game, Coach Boldon was complimentary and happy for the team. “They deserved to win tonight because of how hard they worked at practice this week. I am a believer that hard work at practice should translate over to wins on game day, and they earned this starting two days ago. I am very happy for the players and they will celebrate this victory, hopefully not too much, because we have practice at nine in the morning.”
Brandi Brown, who finished the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds was happy to get a win. “It feels amazing. It’s a humongous reward for how hard we have been working. When everybody plays their role and listens to Coach Boldon, we can win.“