Women's Basketball to Celebrate Senior Day on Saturday
The Youngstown State women's basketball team will play its final regular season game at Beeghly Center on Saturday against No. 11/12 Green Bay. Tipoff against the Phoenix is set for 2 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN and the Horizon League Network. The Penguins will salute seniors Tieara Jones, Kenya Middlebrooks and Macey Nortey prior to the game. YSU is coming off a 76-71 home loss to Milwaukee, and Green Bay beat Cleveland State 90-59 on Thursday.
- Seniors Tieara Jones, Kenya Middlebrooks and Macey Nortey will be playing in the final regular-season home game of their careers.
- Four of YSU's last five Horizon League losses have been by five points or fewer. One was in overtime, and another was by a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left.
- YSU is averaging 10.8 3-pointers in Horizon League play and 9.4 per game overall. The Penguins rank fifth in the nation in 3-pointers per game and have already broken the school record for 3-pointers in a season.
- With four Horizon League games left, the Penguins have already surpassed the previous record for 3-pointers made in conference play by 21.
- With their 10-15 start, the Penguins have surpassed their win total from the previous three years combined. YSU was 3-57 combined in the two years prior to coach Bob Boldon's arrival.
- Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Brandi Brown is averaging 18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds in league play. She ranks ninth in YSU history in points and sixth in rebounds.
Series With Green Bay
Green Bay has won 14 straight games against Youngstown State and is 26-1 all time against the Penguins. The Phoenix won the first 12 meetings from 1993 to 2005, and YSU's lone win came at Green Bay when the Phoenix was ranked 23rd in the country on Feb. 19, 2005 (60-56). YSU is 0-12 at Beeghly Center against Green Bay with an overtime loss in 2004 and a two-point setback in 2004.
Scouting Green Bay
No. 11/12 Green Bay is 22-1 overall and 12-1 in Horizon League play. Its lone loss was 70-58 against Detroit on Feb. 9. The Phoenix leads the conference in scoring offense (74.5 points per game) and scoring defense (54.6 ppg) as well as field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and turnover margin. The Phoenix forces 25.7 turnovers per game and has beaten league opponents by an average of 21.2 points. Senior Julie Wojta, Green Bay's leader in scoring, rebounding and assists, is on the Wade Trophy Watch List as one of the country's top players.
Last Game: L, 76-71 vs. Milwaukee
Milwaukee shot 58 percent in the second half and erased an 11-point halftime deficit to beat YSU 76-71 on Thursday at Beeghly Center.
Meanwhile, the Guins, who led 45-34 at half, connected on just 30 percent of their field-goal attempts after halftime, committed 12 second-half turnovers that led to 12 Panther points and were outscored by the Panthers, 42-26.
UWM went on a 16-5 run in the first seven minutes of the second half to tie the score at 50, and the Panthers' first lead of the second half came at 63-62 with 6:29 left.
With YSU down 72-69, Kelsea Fickiesen missed two free throws with 1:02 left. Sami Tucker hit a 3 on UWM's possession to make the score 75-69 with 34 seconds remaining.
- Brandi Brown scored a game-high 20 points. After missing her first three shots, she finished 7-of-11 the rest of the way. She scored at least 20 for the fourth time in five games.
- Liz Hornberger tied her career-high with 12 points. She was 5-for-6 from the field, and her only miss came at the buzzer. She made three twos for the first time in her career.
- YSU was 11-of-24 from 3-point range, marking the sixth time in seven games that it made double digits in 3-pointers. Seven different Penguins made triples.
- Melissa Thompson scored 10 points for her third career double-digit scoring game. Her 3-pointer at the 1:38 mark cut YSU's deficit to 70-69.
- Kelsea Fickiesen matched her career high with five assists. She added seven points.
- YSU was 10-for-16 from the free-throw line in the second half.
- The Penguins had eight offensive rebounds in the first half and two in the second half.
- Milwaukee outscored YSU 38-16 in the paint, including 22-2 in the second half.
- 16 of YSU's first 18 points came off Milwaukee turnovers. The Guins finished with 24 points off turnovers.
Last Time vs. Green Bay: L, 75-50
Green Bay used a 20-5 run in the second half to pull away for a 75-50 win over YSU on Jan. 19 at the Kress Center.
YSU trailed just 53-38 at the 9:56 mark, but Green Bay's run put it ahead 73-43 just under seven minutes later.
Brandi Brown led all scorers with 21 points and finished with 10 rebounds. The Penguins committed 28 turnovers, which Green Bay translated into a 33-5 edge in points off turnovers.
Lydia Bauer finished with 19 points, and Adrian Ritchie scored 17 points while making three of Green Bay's eight triples.
Although YSU lost by 25, it was a big improvement from last season when the Penguins got down 26-0 and fell 84-25.
A Rare Bad Second Half
Youngstown State has routinely played better in the second half than the first half this season, but Thursday's game against Milwaukee was the complete opposite. YSU scored a season-high 45 points in the first half to build an 11-point halftime edge. The Penguins were then outscored 42-26 in the second half to lose 76-71. The 26 points were the fewest by YSU in a conference game this season. YSU lost for the first time when leading at halftime.
YSU has scored more points in the second half than in the first 23 times in 24 games. For the year, YSU averages 9.5 more points and shoots 10.9 percent higher in the second half than in the first. Opponents average 6.3 more points and shoot 7.9 percent higher in the second half.
So Close, But...
Six of YSU's 10 Horizon League losses have YSU have come in overtime or by five points or fewer. YSU lost overtime games to third-ranked Wright State and fourth-ranked UIC, and it also suffered a 65-63 defeat against Butler by a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left.
YSU has demonstrated that it is not going to go down without a fight. On six occasions this year, the Guins have trailed by double digits in the second half and have taken the lead or got within one possession of tying the score.
Guins Surpass W's of Last 3 Years
YSU's 64-58 win over Valparaiso on Feb. 2 gave it 10 wins this season, which is one more than the previous three seasons combined. The Penguins were 6-24 last year in coach Bob Boldon's first year, 0-30 in 2009-10 and 3-27 in 2008-09 (6-81 total).
The 10-win increase from two seasons ago is not a substantial enough indicator of how big YSU's improvement has been. The Penguins lost games by an average of 25.8 points in 2009-10. Their scoring margin this season is minus-1.8.
Playing Good "D" Is The Key
Nine of YSU's 14 Horizon League opponents have shot at least 43 percent, and YSU is 0-9 in those contests. The other four opponents shot 30, 34, 39.1, 39.2 and 42.9 percent, and YSU is 4-1 in those games. YSU allowed only one non-conference opponent to shoot at least 44 percent. YSU is 7-3 this season when holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting and 9-1 when shooting better than its opponent.
Draining 3s in League Games
In its 14 Horizon League games, YSU has made 151 3-pointers – an average of 10.8 per game. That is already a league-record total, breaking the previous mark of 130, and 3.6 more per game than any other team is averaging in league play. Only two other league teams have made at least 151 3s the entire season. YSU has made at least 10 3-pointers in each of their eight league home games. YSU is shooting 35.8 percent from distance in league play, up from 29.7 percent in non-conference games.
New 3s Game Record at Loyola
YSU set a new school record by making 16 3s at Loyola on Feb. 11, breaking the old mark of 15 (which was matched earlier this season). YSU has made at least 12 3-pointers six times this year. The Guins made 12-plus triples just eight times in the first 36 years of the program.
Guins Break 3s Season Record
With at least five games remaining on its schedule, YSU has already broken the school record for 3-pointers made in a season. The Guins have 235 this season, topping last season's record of 205. YSU is 39 3-pointers shy of last year's record for attempts. More than 49 percent of YSU's field-goal attempts are from beyond the 3-point arc.
Guins Among NCAA's Best at 3s
Through Feb. 16, YSU ranks fifth in the country with 9.4 3-pointers made per game. Florida Gulf Coast, led by YSU head coach Bob Boldon's mentor Karl Smesko, leads the nation with 10.9 per game. YSU is averaging 10.8 3-pointers in Horizon League play. YSU is one of nine teams in the country that has made at least 16 3s in a game this season.
Middlebrooks is Money from 3
Senior Kenya Middlebrooks ranks fourth in school history with 150 career 3-pointers in 115 games. She has 64 in 25 games this year and leads the Horizon League with 2.6 3-pointers per game. Her 64 treys ranks sixth on YSU's single season list.
Middlebrooks was just 28-for-139 in the first 66 games of her career – 0.4 per game and 20.1 percent shooting. She has 122 makes in 337 attempts over her last 49 games – an average of 2.5 per game and 36.2 percent.
Middlebrooks made eight 3-pointers against Detroit on Jan. 26 to set a new school record. Previously, she was one of two YSU players to make seven 3-pointers twice.
Seniors' Careers Closing
Today is the final regular-season home game for Tieara Jones, Kenya Middlebrooks and Macey Nortey. Jones joined the program in 2009-10 and made her debut in 2010-11, and Middlebrooks and Nortey have been mainstays the last four seasons.
- In two seasons, Jones established herself as one of the top blockers in YSU history. Her 52 career blocks ranks as the 12th-most in school history, and her 39 last season rank seventh on the yearly chart.
- Middlebrooks has developed into a top 3-point shooter in the Horizon League. After making 26 treys total her first two seasons, she sank 60 last year and has a league-high 64 this season. She ranks fourth in YSU history with 150 career 3s.
- Nortey has started 99 games in her career and is listed throughout YSU's career record book. She ranks fifth in minutes, sixth in starts, seventh in assists, 16th in steals and 17th in free throws. This year she has a career-best 1.65 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Brown is Ninth on Scoring List
Junior forward Brandi Brown has moved into ninth place on YSU's all-time scorers list. Brown has scored 1,357 points in her 85 career games for an average of 16.0 per game, which is the fifth-best in YSU history. She has scored at least 20 points in nine of YSU's 14 league games, and she's been in double figures 50 times in the last 54 games. Brown also ranks sixth in school history in career rebounds with 819.
Fickiesen's Strong Start to Career
Freshman Kelsea Fickiesen has gotten off to a solid start in her promising career. She has scored at least eight points in eight of her last 11 games. Fickiesen leads YSU in field-goal percentage (.439) and ranks second in assists (48) and blocks (7) and third in steals (33). No freshman guard has ever led YSU in shooting percentage for a season.
Touvelle Improving in Year Two
Monica Touvelle has shown a big improvement in her sophomore year. She has more than doubled her scoring output (3.0 points to 6.6), and she's upped her shooting percentage from 28.7 percent to 40.8 percent. Touvelle is 46-for-119 from 3-point range, which gives her the third-most makes ever by a YSU sophomore.
YSU plays at Wright State on Thursday at 7:05 p.m.