YSU Gives #11 Green Bay All It Can Handle, Fall In OT, 77-72


Emotional. That would be the best way to describe the effort put forth by Youngstown State University on Saturday afternoon as they faced the best team in the Horizon League, #11 Green Bay.  Last season the Penguins lost by 59 points to the same team,this game went to overtime – the program has improved, drastically.  Unfortunately, Green Bay fought back from a seven point deficit to tie the game and force extra time, and pulled out a dramatic 77-72 win.

For Kenya Middlebrooks, Macey Nortey, and Tierra Jones, it marked the end of ‘home games’ and they were honored before the start of the game.  A defeat two days earlier that the Penguins should have won, Senior Day, #11, last home game, etc. were all whipped together in a mixing bowl by Coach Bob Boldon and staff to create the perfect storm, and it almost worked.

“Our kids showed a lot of composure today”, said Boldon.  “There were breakdowns, we made poor decisions, they made some tough shots.  They made all of their free throws in overtime and we didn’t – they capitalized on every mistake that we made.”

In the first half, the Penguins came out blazing.  Middlebrooks shot 4-6 from three-point range, Brandi Brown had eight rebounds and six points, freshman Kelsea Fickiesen contributed eight points which added up to a 34-32 halftime lead for the home team.  More impressively on the stat sheet at the half was that YSU held Julie Wojta to just seven points.  The Phoenix’ Wojta rates at the top of just about every offensive category in the Horizon.


The Penguins kept the ball rolling for a bit in the second half before Green Bay locked in and went a run to claim a 47-44 lead with 11:12 left in the game.  Brown snared a rebound with just over ten minutes to play to notch a double-double, her ninth of the season.  Jones hit a 15-footer on the baseline to make it a one point game with Green Bay ahead 47-46.

The Penguins took a 49-47 led with 7:21 left in the game when Brown drilled a three with a hand in her face.  Adrian Ritchie returned the favor giving Green Bay a 50-49 lead with a three of her own.  Melissa Thompson nailed a three on YSU’s next possession and the Penguins were all-in.  The Penguins took a 54-52 lead on a pair of free throws by Fickiesen, but Green Bay reclaimed the lead at 55-54 when Megan Lukan was fouled while making a layup.

Brown hit a three from the corner by the YSU bench to give YSU a 57-55 lead with just over two minutes to play.  Middlebrooks then drilled a three with 1:33 left to give YSU a 60-55 lead.  After a stop, Middlebrooks was fouled and calmly hit a pair of charity tosses to expand the led to 62-55.  Another stop and Middlebrooks was fouled again.  Middlebrooks calmly nailed both again to increase the lead to 64-55.

Watching the lead go away quick, the Penguins were ahead 65-63 when Fickiesen was fouled.  She missed the first but made the second with 28 seconds left.  Ritchie was then fouled while shooting a three, so she got three shots.  She hit all three, tie game, 68-68.  No one else would score and the game was headed to overtime.


In the overtime, Tierra Jones picked up her fifth foul with 3:24 left.  Four of the fouls that Jones was whistled for were petty.  Fine me. Green Bay hit four free throws to hold a 70-66 lead and the ball with 2:33 to play.  Nortey connected on a free throw to make it 70-67.  The Penguins had a shot to tie it, but Middlebrooks could not connect from three.  The Phoenix held a 72-67 lead  when Lydia Bauer buried  three right when the shot clock expired.

Youngstown State (10-16, 4-11) got good effort out of Brown.  The junior finished the contest with 18 points and 17 rebounds, to record her 36th career double-double.  Middlebrooks had 22 points, Fickiesen played perhaps her best game as a collegiate in collecting 12 points, as did Thompson for the Penguins.  Despite losing, give this team a gold star for playing their butts off.

“The good thing was that we played hard the whole game”, commented Middlebrooks.  A year ago, two years ago, we would have folded and gotten blown out.  So it is a positive measure of progress, but we feel like we should have won the game.”

Green Bay got 18 points and 15 rebounds from Wojta and 26 more from Ritchie.  The Phoenix improved to 23-1 and 13-1 with the win, but more importantly, survived a scare from a hungry YSU team.

“Youngstown played their butts off”, said Wojta.  “There is a lot of progress here and the girls and coaches should be extremely proud of how far they have come.  We play with a will to win and we never give up, we needed to be that way to pull this out today.

Boldon talked about how a close loss to the best team in the conference can help YSU entering the tournament in a couple of weeks.  “I would like to think it will help us.  We played close with each of the top four teams in the conference and in a one game format, I feel like our kids will have the confidence to compete.”

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