Posts Tagged ‘Monica Touvelle’

YSU Wins NIT Opener, 63-51, Over Indiana State

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Three years ago, Bob Boldon took over a program that lost every game they played the year before.  He inherited Brandi Brown and a puzzle that needed to be put together.  A few years later, Boldon finds himself leading a team into the NIT Tournament on the heels of a 22 win season.

“We really were at the lowest of the lows”, recalled Brown.  ”  I am grateful to be a part of this team and feel like we are in a really good place right now.”

Youngstown State had their hands full with an Indiana State team that won 18 games and had a size advantage, nothing new to the YSU Lady Penguins.  The host team played hard and enjoyed a 63-51 first round NIT win.

The Penguins raced out to a 29-23 lead at the half.  Liz Hornberger (below) had ten points and Brown added nine to lead the YSU offense.  The Sycamores got eight from their big post player, Marina Laramie.

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YSU got the first points of the second half to take a 31-23 lead, but Indiana State got it back to 31-29 in just two minutes.  Heidi Schlegel (below) hit a bucket with 15:27 left to increase the YSU lead to 34-31.  Good to see Schlegel back on the floor after missing seven games with an injured knee.

“Two years ago, we only won six games”, said Schlegel.  ”Playing Saturday will be something we are used to after a Thursday game because that’s how the conference worked out too.”

You would never know by watching Boldon’s Penguins that the 22 wins they already had eclipsed the previous four years combined.

With 13:09 left in the game, Hornberger went down with what appeared to be an injured right knee.  An eerie silence muffled the cheers for a minute or so before Hornberger was helped to the YSU bench.

When play resumed, Brown went into Horizon League Player of The Year mode.  She would first hit a basket that would make it 42-37 with 12:33 to play.

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YSU seemed to let Indiana State get within arms’ reach and then pull back away.  With 10:01 left in the game and YSU ahead 44-41, Karen Flagg drove in from the right side, hit a layup and got fouled.  Flagg hit the charity toss to bring the edge back to six points at 47-41.

The Penguins started to put some distance between themselves and the Sycamores when Brown went to the line to shoot a one-and-one and knocked both down to crank the lead up to 49-41 with 9:03 left to play.

Brown (below) was repeatedly guarded very physically.  There were several instances throughout the game where a player from either team would be on the deck.

“There aren’t a lot of bad teams still playing basketball right now”, remarked Boldon.

“We have things to work on, if you look at the stat sheet you would think our players shot with their opposite hands.  We won’t have a lot of time to prepare for a very good Toledo team, and they won’t have any more time than we do to prepare.”

Brown and company showed their toughness throughout the game.  With 3:55 left in the game, Brown again stymied any momentum the Sycamores were building.  Brown hit a shot to make the score 54-46 in favor of YSU.

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With less than two minutes remaining, YSU held a 56-47 lead.  Indiana State would go into foul mode and YSU converted enough chances to get the win.

The Penguins (23-9) got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Brown.  Schlegel chipped in with 11, and Flagg contributed 10.  YSU was also aided by a technical foul on the Indiana State bench in each half.

Indiana State got a very balanced scoring attack with Natasha Zurek, Laramie, Taylor Whitley, and Anna Munn reaching double figures.  Munn was the Sycamores top scorer this season as she averaged 17.1 per game.  It was odd to see a top scorer in an Indiana State uniform wearing #33.

YSU will face Toledo in the second round game, in Toledo. YSU is 3-0 against the MAC this season, and as a league the Horizon holds a  16-7 advantage.

YSU Lady Penguins Now 7-2 After 83-52 Thrashing Of Wilmington

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Youngstown State pushed their record to 7-2 on Sunday as they easily handled Division-III Wilmington College, 83-52.  The Penguins rode Monica Touvelle for 20, Brandi Brown for 17, and got 11 from Taylor Hvisdak (above), an undersized freshman from the undersized town of Lowellville.

In fact, about half of the paid attendance were Hvisdak’s relatives, Touvelle’s relatives, and friends from Lowellville.

“They support me every game and it was nice that they were in the stands today”, said Hvisdak.

If you were wondering, Wilmington is just to the Northeast of Cincinnati and if you are female, the first thing you receive at orientation is a basketball uniform.  The Quakers (6-3) had 24 players on their roster (19 dressed and played), and had won five in a row before dropping this one.

For YSU, it was a final tuneup heading into finals week and a meeting with #23 West Virginia next Sunday.

“It is a stressful week”, addd Hvisdak.  ”All the teams are going through the same thing with finals.  We will be practicing hard though and getting ready for West Virginia. It is a big game for us.”

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In the first half, Youngstown State raced out to an 11-2 lead as they hit three baskets from three-point range within the first three minutes.  The Penguins had the lead as high as 17 points in the half, but when the buzzer sounded to end the first twenty minutes, YSU was ahead 37-23.  Brandi Brown had 15 points and seven rebounds in the opening half.

Coach Bob Boldon took advantage of the padded advantage to use his bench throughout the contest.  Ashley Lawson, redshirted all of last season with a torn shoulder in two places, saw her first action as a Penguin.

In the second half, YSU kept Wilmington at arms length, maintaining between a 17 to 20 point advantage.  With 14:04 left in the game, Karen Flagg stole a pass and dribbled up the left side to find a hustling Hvisdak for a bucket that made it 47-31.  The layup accounted for Hvisdak’s first points as a Penguin, and she finished the game with eleven and emerged as a new weapon in Boldon’s growing arsenal.

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Brown finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.  Flagg finished with nine points and five rebounds, and is looking more and more like a younger Brandi Brown each game, with the ability to be a difference-maker on both sides of the court.  Monica Touvelle was firing up threes and ended up making 6 of 9 attempts and finished with 20 points in all, to lead all scorers.

Liz Hornberger did not dress for the Penguins.

“Liz sitting was precautionary, we were resting her, and I expect her to play every other game from here on out”, said Boldon.

Wilmington got 11 points from Wippel Makenzie.

To think the Penguins would be 7-2 at this point of the season might have been a stretch for the casual fan.  In reality, they should be 8-1, and if you asked the players, they should be 9-0.  Credit to Boldon, his players, and his staff for really turning the program, well beyond respectability.  The Horizon League will surely take notice.

“I am happy we are 7-2.  We have only played three games at home.  Since the first week, I feel that we have shown significant improvement as players and as a team”, said Boldon.

Why Women’s Basketball At YSU Is Fun Again

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The transformation that Bob Boldon and his staff have made in three years is beyond comprehension.  Boldon took over a team that went 0-30 the year before he took over and has gradually built a powerful program comprised of mostly undersized sharpshooters who now have the right mindset and work ethic to compile a winning season.

Leading the path for this years Lady Penguins team is Brandi Brown, one last time. Brown will break more records during the season before departing, but she has proven in the past few seasons that she would trade every individual accolade she ever received for her teams success.

Having that weapon one last time, does Boldon feel a sense of urgency to win this season?

“You try to win as many games as you can every year and it is a process”, said Boldon. “There may be a sense of urgency in Brandi.  She is definitely playing the best basketball I have ever seen her play.  She will definitely be missed, and it is exciting to coach somebody that talented who is working as hard as she is right now.”

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Paneech:  Now in your third season, where do you feel you have taken this program?

Boldon:  Offensively, we are significantly better than we were at this time two years ago. You can assume that we will score some points, but the question is, can we play good enough defense to win some games?  That was our point of emphasis all Summer.  I think we are in a situation now that we are taking defense as seriously now, as we took offense in the past.

Paneech:  Is it realistic to assume this team should win 15 to 20 games this season?

Boldon:  I have never sat down with our staff and projected how many games we could win.  We try to win every game.  Now, we probably wont go undefeated this year, but by saying you will win 15 games, you are also assuming that you will lose 15 games.  I can’t prepare our kids properly if I think it is a game that we can’t win.

Paneech:  All kinds of new faces here this year, as well as some faces that are no longer around.  Discuss the turnover within your program.

Boldon:  The new kids have brought a plethora of new things.  We got a little bit quicker, a little bit taller, and a little bit more basketball savvy.  I think we became a better basketball team, which was the goal when we were recruiting.  We had gaps to fill, and I think we did a good job filling them.  Once everything gels and the new kids start to learn everything that we are teaching, they will blend with the veterans we have who already understand the system.  The new kids are very athletic and have added a fun dimension to our practices.

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Paneech:  What is the strength of this team and what needs developed?

Boldon:  Our biggest strength is Brandi.  You get a player who can score, rebound, pass the ball, and play defense.  She epitomizes what we are trying to do.  Those things I mentioned  are things we are working on with everybody and every practice – to make them better shooters and passers, and to play better defense and get rebounds.  I would be doing someone who is shooting pretty good a huge disservice if I said ‘that is good enough’.  43% from three isn’t good enough, we have to try to get to 45, or 47, or 52.  Constantly raise the bar.

Paneech:  So, at this level, no matter how good something is, you convince your players that it could be better?

Boldon:  Absolutely.  That is how we do it.  We meet weekly and talk about player development as a staff.  Monica (Touvelle) shot 69 out of 75 from the three-point line at practice the other day.  It doesn’t leave a lot of room for improvement, but we will encourage her to strive for 70.  They really want to be challenged and they will fight you sometimes, but you can never get complacent.

Paneech:  The league is tough, how can you keep the team focused throughout the season?

Boldon:  Last year, we played Green Bay as tough as anybody in the conference.  There was a confidence and the returners have done a good job keeping that mentality and keeping that edge.  The new kids are starting to buy into it.  It is never going to be beautiful, but there is a strong level of competitiveness, which to me, is really, really exciting.

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Paneech:  With Butler dropping out of the league and the schedule falling to pieces with little time to fix it, how challenging was it to find the games?

Boldon:  It’s difficult for Coach Jackson and I, as we share the making of the schedule responsibilities.  We don’t share that information with the kids until it is the right time, and really, they just want to know what time practice is and what time the bus is leaving.  We have most of next year scheduled already.  For Coach Jackson, it creates headaches to space games.  He did a nice job putting it together.

Paneech:  Two Big East teams and a Big-12 team on the schedule this season.  Two years ago, no shot, but this year can they all be wins?

Boldon:  Two years ago, I think we would have been intimidated.  This year, we are a lot better suited for those types of challenges.  These teams are incredibly more athletic than us, and certainly taller than us.  The taller than us thing is something we have learned to deal with.

Paneech:  What is harder?  Trying not to be embarrassed every game in your first season, or in your third year to win every game?

Boldon:  The first year is worse.  This team is getting really close to being really good.  We are getting more consistent.  We encourage and challenge the kids to work their hardest and to make the people in this city proud to say this is their team.

I think they get it done this season.  Credit Boldon and staff for mandating a system that yields positive results.  I will be opposite the preseason pollsters who picked this team to finish eighth and say these girls will win 20 games.  18 in the regular season and two more in the tournament.  They can shoot and are fearless – a basketball coaches dream.

YSU Women Beat Pitt, 64-50, Behind Huge Second Half

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Youngstown State rallied to outscore Pitt, 43-17, in the second half to post a season-opening 64-50 win on the road.  The victory was the first over a Big East team since 1991 and also the first over a BCS Conference opponent since 1997.

Brandi Brown (above), playing in her last season for the Penguins, spearheaded a furious comeback after the Penguins trailed 33-21 at the half.  Brown scored 11 of her game-high 16 points in the second half.  She also collected 11 rebounds for Youngstown State.

Brown was joined by Monica Touvelle and Melissa Thompson in double figures for YSU.  Touvelle shot 4-10 from three-point land and Thompson, who finished with 13, played a well-rounded game for the Penguins.

Surprisingly, the undersized Lady Penguins held their own on the boards.  Pitt finished the game with a 34-32 edge in rebounds, but Bob Boldon‘s scrappy team is getting used to a disadvantage in size that they are able to compensate for with hustle and technique.

The opportunistic Penguins play at Buffalo on Tuesday at noon.

YSU Women Fall To Cleveland State, 59-56, To Close Season

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The Youngstown State women’s basketball had three tries to force overtime in the final seconds, but could not connect on any dropping a hard-fought 59-56 decision to Cleveland State in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament on Monday night at the Wolstein Center.

With 8.9 seconds left, the Penguins setup Monica Touvelle for the first try from straight on, but her shot glanced off the left side of the rim. Brandi Brown grabbed the board, but her off-balance 3-pointer from the wing bounced out. Heidi Schlegel grabbed the second rebound and alertly dribbled out to the 3-point line, but her shot at the buzzer didn’t fall as the Vikings advanced to play at Detroit on Wednesday night in the quarterfinals.  The Penguins finish the season 10-20 while Cleveland State improves to 12-18.

YSU turned up the defensive pressure to have a chance to force overtime. The Penguins tied the game early in the second half on two occasions, before the Vikings went on top 27-25 with 17:55 remaining.  At the 8:42 mark, the Vikings went ahead 52-45 on a 3-pointer by Shalonda Winton. YSU pulled within 52-47 on a couple of free throws by Kelsea Fickiesen. However, the Vikes pushed their advantage back to seven at the 7:08 mark on two free throws by Honesty King.

From that point, the team’s struggled offensively down the stretch. Touvelle broke the scoring drought for both teams with a base-line jumper at the 3:03 mark. Brown answered over a minute later driving to the bucket and converted a layup with 1:49 remaining cutting the deficit to 54-51.

Kenya Middlebrooks split a pair of free throws with 1:07 left and with 26.5 seconds left, Melissa Thompson‘s putback of a Middlebrooks missed triple got the Penguins within 56-54.  With 24.4 ticks left, Janelle Adams sank a pair of free throws to push the CSU lead up to 58-54.

Fickiesen quickly drove to the hoop scoring with exactly 18 seconds left.  With 16.6 seconds left, Thompson fouled Honesty King who made the first, but missed the second free throw.  The Penguins quickly moved the ball up the court, but Fickiesen was whistled for a charging foul with 9.8 seconds remaining. The YSU pressure then forced Adams to travel setting up the final 8.9 seconds.

For the game, YSU shot 30.4 percent making 21-of-69 shots, but went just 3-of-22 (13.6 percent) from behind the 3-point arc. All three 3-pointers came in a five-minute span of the second half. CSU shot 36.5 percent from the field converting 23-of-63 attempts.

Fickiesen led the Penguins with 11 points while Middlebrooks and Touvelle each finished with 10. Coleman had game-high honors with 17 points while Shalonda Winton had 15 and King added 13.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, shooting a combined 27 percent and committing 26 turnovers, and Cleveland State held a 23-21 lead at halftime. YSU’s defense forced 10 steals as a catalyst to Cleveland State’s 15 first-half turnovers, but the Penguins were 7-for-34 overall from the floor and 0-for-9 from 3-point range offensively.

YSU scored the first four points of the game, but Cleveland State scored six straight points for the first of three lead changes in the opening period. Middlebrooks put the Guins back up 9-8, and her steal and lay-up gave them a 16-12 lead with 6:10 left.

Schlegel’s bucket put YSU up 18-14 with 5:22 remaining, but YSU did not score for nearly five minutes as Cleveland State scored the next nine points to go ahead 23-18. Schlegel made a free-throw with 30.9 seconds left to end the drought, and Fickiesen made a lay-up with less than three seconds left to make the score 23-21 at halftime.

YSU Women Will Return To Cleveland State For Tournament Action

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The Youngstown State Lady Penguins fought back after putting themselves in an early hole, but ultimately came up short, falling to Cleveland State.  Over the final seven-and-a-half minutes, the Vikings outscored the Penguins 20-9 and walked away with a 79-69 victory.  YSU committed 28 turnovers, matching a season high, and attempted a season-low 14 3-pointers in the loss.

The loss shook things up for the Horizon League Women’s Tournament.  Had the Penguins (10-19, 4-14) been able to nab the road win, they would have hosted a game Monday night in the first round.  Because of the way it ended, the Lady Penguins will head straight back to the Wolstein Center for a do-over with their local rivals.

The Penguins trailed by as many as 14 in the first half, but were was able to chip away and pulled themselves into the lead midway through the second half.  The Penguins outscored the Vikings 15-7 in the first five minutes of the second half to cut the margin to three, and they took their first lead of the contest when two Macey Nortey free throws at the 9:47 mark made the score 58-57. Cleveland State made two free throws to re-claim the lead, and a Kenya Middlebrooks bucket put YSU up 60-59 with 7:34 left. The Vikings made six of their next seven shots, and YSU missed six free throws in the final 6:37.

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Cleveland State shot 63.3 percent in the first half and 50 percent for the game. The Vikings scored 22 of their 33 points in the second half in the final 8:30. YSU shot 40.7 percent and posted a season-high 16 steals.  Cleveland State made 10 of its first 13 shots and ended the first half on a 9-3 run to take a 46-35 lead at halftime. The Vikings led by as many as 14 in the period, and their 9-3 run to end the period came immediately after YSU had cut the deficit to five.

Heidi Schlegel registered her second career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Kelsea Fickiesen added a career-best 14 points.  For Cleveland State, Shalonda Winton finished with 25 points, and Takima Keane and Cori Coleman both had 14 points.

The Penguins will enter tournament play as the #10 seed, while Cleveland State will host as the #7 seed.

YSU Women Fall To Milwaukee, 76-71, In Tough One

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The Youngstown State University Lady Penguins upheld a tradition that merits special mention.  Donned in pink socks, tape, neckties, laces, and headbands – they made a statement about breast cancer awareness.  Because I have had relatives who fought that form of cancer and won, makes a burly 6′, 250 pound guy a little sappy.  Having lost a couple of loved ones who did not get the cancer detected before the fatal stages makes me remind whoever reads this column to take the awareness portion seriously.  I do.

That being said, the Lady Penguins took to the court to do battle with the Milwaukee Panthers.  This game held significance toward the Penguins chances of possibly hosting a playoff game.  Behind 10 points from Brandi Brown, YSU stormed out to a big lead, blew the big lead in the second half, then regained control.  However, Milwaukee controlled things at the end and turned away the Penguins for a 76-71 win.  YSU had their biggest first half of the season scoring 45, but had their worst conference second half of the season scoring just 26 points.

“There were a lot of possessions where we miscommunicated”, said Coach Bob Boldon.  ”When we watch the films we will se five or six possessions where if we could get a stop, the outcome of the game could have been different.  We couldn’t stop anything in the second half though.”

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In the first half, Youngstown State darted out to a 45-34 halftime lead.  The Penguins had a lead as big as 13 as Brandi Brown paced the attack with 10.  Liz Hornberger added nine points and Monica Touvelle hit a couple of threes.  Courtney Lindfors had 11 for the Panthers and Sami Tucker had ten more.  YSU took exactly as many shots (11) more than Milwaukee as their margin at the half.  The keys to the big first half were plenty of offensive rebounding and good defense that caused some turnovers.

In the second half, the refs wanted to make sure the metal ball in their whistles didn’t rust, so they blew them frequently calling plenty of fouls.  It got so bad that YSU committed enough fouls with just over 15 minutes to go in the half, that Milwaukee was in a very early one-and-one situation.

Milwaukee used an 18-7 run to catch YSU with 13:05 left in the game and tie things up at 50.  Then it turned into a seesaw game the rest of the way and Milwaukee found themselves ahead 65-62 with 5:13 left.  Hornberger then hit a three to match her career-high in points and making it a tie game again.

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Milwaukee again jumped out to a three-point, 72-69 lead, with just over a minute left Lindfors scored from close range.  Kelsea Fickiesen was fouled on the next possession but missed a pair of free throws that would have made it a one point game.  Milwaukee then hit a three to salt the game away, eventually posting a 76-71 win.

Brown finished the game with 18 points for YSU (10-15, 4-10).  Hornberger tied her career high with 12 points and Melissa Thompson had a good game with ten.  The Penguins play their season finale against Green Bay at 2:05 on Saturday.  It will mark the final game for Macey Nortey, Tierra Jones, and Kenya Middlebrooks, three good ones who are almost out of time on the court.

“We are not a tired team”, said Hornberger afterwards.  ”We can’t go into a half with an 11 point lead and then come out and take minutes off.  We are not that good of a team to take time off.”

Milwaukee got 18 points each out of Tucker and Lindfors in improving to 6-18, and 3-10 in Horizon League play.

YSU Lady Penguins Get 20 From Brandi Brown To Turn Valpo Away, 64-58

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Brandi Brown scored 20 points and gathered 10 rebounds to record her eighth double-double of the season (the 35th of her career) and scored in double digits for the 47th time in 51 games.  Statistically speaking, it almost sounds like Brown could be the Horizon League Player of The Year.  Youngstown State jumped on the back of a familiar horse in Brown, to get by Valparaiso, 64-58.

When told after the game it was her 35th double-double, Brown could only say, “Wow, I did not know I had that many.”

“This was different pressure tonight because we are usually not expected to win.  We know we have to play hard regardless of whether we are a favorite to win or an underdog”, said Brown.

Brown tallied six first half points to lead the Penguins to a one-point advantage at the midway buzzer, 21-20.  The Penguins were their own worst enemy in the half, despite having a lead.  Shooting 1-12 from three-point range and 39.1% from the field, YSU did not convert any Valparaiso turnovers into points.  The Crusaders got eight first half points from Laura Richards.  Valpo struggled as badly as YSU in the opening stanza shooting only 32%.

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In the second half, YSU opened a ten point lead, 38-28, with 12:09 remaining in the game.  Monica Touvelle hit a three from the corner to supply the margin.  Valpo (5-16, 1-9) closed in a bit going on a 5-0 run to make it 38-33, but Kelsea Fickiesen went on her own little 5-0 run to push the lead back to a comfortable ten points.

Tabitha Gerardot did her best to keep her Crusaders in the game.  Gerardot scored 10 points over a five minute span that found Valparaiso trailing only 54-52 with 3:16 left in the game.  Kenya Middlbrooks hit the dagger free throws to make it 60-55 with 13 seconds to go to secure the lead and the game for Youngstown State (10-11, 5-6).  She went back to the line with a 60-58 lead and promptly drilled another pair for insurance.

It was not an easy game on the eyes.  Both teams struggled at points, Youngstown State was just able piece together more in streaks and runs at a time than Valparaiso.

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For the Penguins, Brown paved the way with 20 points.  Touvelle, who finished with 11 points, and Fickiesen, who contributed 9 markers, did a good job scoring in the clutch when it seemed the Penguins were in peril.

“I was a little frustrated tonight”, said Coach Boldon.  ”It is hard to play good after the great atmosphere we had here Saturday night with two teams playing great basketball to go into a weeknight game where at times, we played okay.  Success is something we are still learning here.  There is not a whole lot of winning on the resumes of our players.”

Gerardot was sensational in the second half scoring all of her 15 points.  She also gathered 9 rebounds for the Crusaders. Valpo only used six players the entire game. Ashley Timmerman contributed 14 points for Valpo.

The Penguins return to action at home on Saturday afternoon when they will square off against Butler.  The game will be followed by The Game of Hope that Tony Spano has been working his butt off coordinating.

YSU Rallies From 15 Down To Force Overtime, But Wright State Gets Win, 71-66

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An integral part of any athletic program turning around for the better depends on consistency.  Granted, the Youngstown State Lady Penguins have taken steps in the right direction all season.  Second-year coach, Bob Boldon and staff have initiated a strong offense where the three-point shot has been a source of good things.  Wright State needed overtime to claim a 71-66 win after the Penguins roared back late to tie things up, once down 15.

“I thought we gave a good effort”, said Coach Boldon.  ”That was a good team sitting all alone in second place.  The energy was real good and I was happy our kids had a chance to play in that kind of atmosphere.”

In the first half, the Penguins struggled in the latter portion with their shooting.  Seemed like every shot hoisted was clanging and the Guins had trouble even getting shots off a couple of times turning the ball over on shot clock violations.  Brandi Brown was the leading scorer for YSU at the break, that comes as no surprise.  What does jump out was that as her teams leading scorer she only had four points and no one was tied with her.  Kim Demmings paced Wright State with five points and the Raiders were ahead 26-22 at the break.

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In the second half, the Penguins showed signs of life on threes by Monica Touvelle and Kenya Middlebrooks to cut into a lead that grew to twelve after the break.  With 11:57 left to go in the game, the Raiders were comfortably ahead, 47-36.  Molly Fox started to establish inside dominance after being hit with an offensive foul and three traveling calls in the first half.  Fox completed a traditional three-point play to lengthen the margin to twelve points at 48-36.

Middlebrooks, shaking off a sluggish first half that consisted of going 0-4 from the floor and five turnovers,  collected her second three-pointer of the second half to make it 51-39.  Kelsea Fickiesen snared a rebound on offense and and was fouled making the putback, completing a three-point play that made it 51-41 with 8:45 to play.  Fickiesen would hit another three that made it a 53-47 game after a good defensive effort.  Demmings responded with a 15-foot jumper to give Wright State back a 55-47 lead with 6:45 remaining.

Heidi Schlegel did her best to keep the Penguins alive converting a three-point play with 2:27 to go that made it 57-54 in favor of Wright State.  Brown got a rebound with 27 seconds left but the Penguins could not convert trailing 59-57.  The Raiders inbounded and Demmings was fouled immediately.  Macey Nortey started a drive at the opposing baseline and in 7.9 of the 8.3 seconds that remained, got to the other end and hit a layup to tie the game and force overtime.

“We would have thrown up the white flag in the past”, commented Nortey.  ”We don’t do that anymore.  We learn something each game, win or lose, and if we guard the way we know how, we can compete.”

In the overtime, Demmings took over hitting two quick baskets to put Wright State ahead, 63-59.  With 3:339 left in the extra session, Middlebrooks was fouled and hit a pair of charity tosses to make it 63-61.  Nortey again went the length of the court on a fastbreak to tie the game.  Demmings, however, responded with a three to untie the game.  Fox was whistled for fouling Brown with 1:39 left, sending her to the line, where she hit both free throws to tie the game at 66 apiece.  Not to be outdone, Demmings converted another old-fashioned three-point play to give the Raiders a 69-66 lead with 38.5 seconds remaining.

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Brown (above) finished the game with 11 points and 8 rebounds for YSU (9-11, 3-6).  Melissa Thompson followed up a career-effort with another decent start for Boldon, finishing with 8 points.  Schlegel came to life late to finish with 10.  Middlebrooks ended up with 10 points and did well to put aside her shaky first half, showing good composure to mentally regroup at halftime and produce in the second half.  The Penguins went 12-46 from three-point land, second all-time in attempts.

Wright State got 14 points and 10 rebounds from Fox and 25 big points from Demmings.  The Raiders improved to 14-7 overall and 7-2 in the Horizon League.

Next up for the Lady Penguins is a February 2 game against Valparaiso at the Beeghly Center.  Tipoff is set for 7:05.

YSU Lady Penguins Claw Back To Force Overtime, But Fall In the End, 77-68

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Coach Bob Boldon said at the beginning of this season that his Lady Penguins would go through peeks and valleys as part of a long-term process.  Thursday’s loss to Loyola was just that, a game of transition.  Three years ago, trailing by 14 with more than a half to play resulted in 30+ point losses.  Saturday afternoon, YSU went back to the drawing board against a very good UIC team, and fought their way back into a game they appeared to have no chance at winning with three minutes left, forcing overtime.  The game was a valley, then a peek, then a valley again.  UIC took control for good in the overtime, hitting some threes and stopping YSU when they needed to as they escaped with a 77-68 win.

“Our kids did a good job today, even in the overtime”, said Boldon.  ”Yesterday we had a good practice and they were just getting after it, so it was nice to see that carried over from yesterday.”

In the first half, the Penguins raced out to an 11-3 lead only to watch in evaporate.  A few minutes later, they were trailing 16-13.  Brandi Brown scored half of the Penguins points in the opening stanza pouring in 12.  UIC’s Taylor Foulks was killing the penguins with 14 first half points, going 4-4 from three-point range.  After 20 minutes, the Penguins trailed 30-24.  Foulks also hit a couple of key three-pointers in the overtime session to help preserve the win.

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In the second half, Foulks hit another three that upped the UIC lead to 43-36 with 11:43 left in the game.  UIC increased the lead to 50-39 just under the ten minute mark when Jasmine Bailey pulled up and hit a jumper from the line. Monica Touvelle did all she could hitting a three to cut it to 50-42 on the ensuing possession.

Kenya Middlebrooks, one of the Penguins best shooters, spent most of the second half on the bench with four fouls.  Touvelle hit a three and connected on the baseline for two to cut the lead to 57-49.  Kelsea Fickiesen then connected on a drive that would cut the lead to six at 59-53 with 3:15 remaining in regulation.

Brown was determined to keep her team alive as she gathered an offensive board and made a shot to cut theUIC lead to 61-56 with 1:25 remaining in the game.  YSU used full-court pressure to add some heat, but UIC managed to get the ball downcourt and hit some foul shots down the stretch.  Middlebroks hit a three to make it 63-59 with 1:02 left in favor of the visiting Flames.  A five second call gave the Penguins the ball back but Fickiesen threw an errant inbound pass to turn it over.

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Touvelle scored her season-high 14th point to make it a one point game on another three with 15.9 seconds to make it just 63-62.  Full court pressure caused a turnover on the inbound and YSU got possession with a shot to win the game.  Fickiesen was fouled on a drive and sent to the line for a couple of free throws.  After missing the first of two, UIC played ‘ice the shooter’, using a timeout.  Fickiesen hit the second to tie the game with 11.3 seconds remaining.  UIC brought the ball up but Fickiesen intercepted the pass and drove as far as she could before letting a hurried shot hit the front of the rim as the buzzer sounded ending regulation and forcing overtime.

Brown finished with 25 points on 11-16 shooting, she also hauled in eight rebounds for the Penguins.  Touvelle finished with a career-high 19 points and seems to be emerging as another weapon Boldon has with the ball.  YSU falls to 8-8, and 2-3 in league play.

“Our turnovers killed us”, said Touvelle.  ”We are trying to cut back on them.  I had a big turnover in the overtime and we can’t make those mistakes and expect to win.  I missed more shots than I made, but my teammates encouraged me to keep shooting.”

For UIC, Bailey gathered 22 points and Foulks added an additional 23 caroms.  The Flames improved to 10-7 (3-3, HL) and looked like the better team until the collapse.