Women's Basketball Starts Road Trip at Wright State
With its eyes set on earning a home playoff game, the Youngstown State women's basketball team will start its regular-season-ending road swing at Wright State on Thursday. Tipoff against the Raiders at the Nutter Center is set for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO and the Horizon League Network. YSU will have to win at least one of its final three contests to earn a home postseason game, and it has the third-place Raiders, second-place Detroit and seventh-place Cleveland State left on its slate. YSU is coming off a 77-72 overtime loss to No. 11/12 Green Bay, and Wright State beat Detroit 91-82 in its last game.
- Five of YSU's last six Horizon League losses have been by five points or fewer. Two were in overtime to third-place Wright State and No. 11/12 Green Bay, and another was by a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left.
- YSU is averaging 10.9 3-pointers in Horizon League play and 9.5 per game overall. The Penguins rank tied-for-third in the nation in 3-pointers per game and have already broken the school record for 3-pointers in a season by 42.
- With three Horizon League games left, the Penguins have already surpassed the previous record for 3-pointers made in conference play by 33.
- With their 10-16 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 18.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in league play. She ranks ninth in YSU history in points and sixth in rebounds.
- Kenya Middlebrooks leads the Horizon League with 2.7 3-pointers per game.
Series With Wright State
Wright State has won 23 of the 43 meetings against YSU in a series that dates back to 1979. YSU beat its old Mid-Continent Conference foe 18 of the first 22 times, but Wright State has had the edge lately. The Raiders have won nine straight against YSU, but the Penguins have been very close the last three contests. YSU lost by three twice last year and by five in overtime this January.
Scouting Wright State
Wright State is currently tied for second with Detroit in the Horizon League standings with a 10-4 mark in conference play. Wright State is coming off a 91-82 victory over Detroit on Thursday. The Raiders own the conference's second-best scoring offense, and they lead the league in defensive rebounds and field-goal percentage defense. Freshman guard Kim Demmings averages 17.2 point, 5.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists, and she takes more than 26 percent of the Raiders' shots.
Last Game: L, 77-72 vs. Green Bay
No. 11/12 Green Bay outscored YSU 11-1 in the final 51 seconds of regulation and 11-6 in overtime to escape with a 77-72 win on the Penguins' Senior Day on Saturday.
Two Kenya Middlebrooks free throws put YSU ahead 64-55 with 59 seconds left, and the Penguins still led 65-57 with 36 seconds left. Adrian Ritchie hit a 3 for Green Bay, and she converted a three-point play after a YSU turnover to make the score 65-63.
Kelsea Fickiesen split a pair of free throws to put YSU up three, and Ritchie made three free throws with 19 seconds left to tie the score. Green Bay went on to score nine of the first 10 points in overtime.
Kenya Middlebrooks scored 22 points in her final regular-season home game, and Brandi Brown added 21 points and 19 rebounds.
- Green Bay beat YSU by 25 earlier this year and by 59 last February.
- YSU nearly picked up its first win over a ranked team since 2006.
- Both teams scored 21 points off turnovers. Green Bay held a 33-5 edge off turnovers in the first meeting this year.
- YSU won the rebounding battle for the first time in nine games.
- The Penguins' 12 3-pointers extended their streak of making double digits to five games. Green Bay had not allowed more than 11 heading into the game.
- Brandi Brown's 19 rebounds tied her previous career high, which was set at Loyola her freshman year. She scored at least 20 points for the fifth time in six games.
- Kenya Middlebrooks scored 22 points and hit five 3-pointers. She had 21 points and three triples combined in her first seven career games against Green Bay.
- Senior Macey Nortey made the 100th start of her career. She had not started the previous nine games.
- Kelsea Fickiesen scored 12 points and reached at least eight points for the ninth time in the last 12 games.
Last Time vs. WSU: L, 71-66 in OT
Macey Nortey scored five points in the final 46 seconds to force overtime, but YSU lost 71-66 to Wright State on Jan. 28 at Beeghly Center.
YSU trailed by as many as 15 in the second half and by 10 with 3:51 left. The Raiders led 59-54 before Nortey hit a trey and added a tying lay-up with 0.2 seconds remaining.
Kim Demmings scored Wright State's first 10 points of overtime, including a three-point play with 50 seconds left with the score tied at 66. She finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
Brandi Brown led YSU with 11 points. Seven YSU players scored at least eight points.
So Close, But...
Saturday's heart-breaking 77-72 loss to No. 11/12 Green Bay is just the latest in a rough stretch of setbacks for the Penguins.
Seven of YSU's 11 Horizon League losses have YSU have come in overtime or by five points or fewer. Each of its last three losses have been by five points. YSU previously lost overtime games to third-ranked Wright State and fourth-ranked UIC, and it also suffered a 65-63 defeat against fifth-ranked Butler by a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left.
YSU has showed 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.
Looking at the Big Picture
Although YSU has hit a slide of stinging close losses lately, it's hard to ignore the improvements that the program has made under second-year head coach Bob Boldon. Just two years ago, YSU went 0-30 and lost games on average by 25.8 points. Only two Horizon League games in 2009-10 had a final margin fewer than 10 points. This season, YSU's scoring margin is minus-1.9, a 23.9-point improvement from two years ago. The Penguins have won 10 games, and their loss at Green Bay is the only setback in league play by more than 10 points.
Offensive High Marks in 2011-12
- YSU's 39 percent field-goal shooting is its best since making 39.7 percent in 2004-05.
- The Penguins have already shattered the previous school record for 3-pointers in a season by 42.
- YSU's .339 3-point percentage is its highest since .363 in 2004-05.
- YSU is averaging 64.9 points, which is its best averaging 66.0 points in 2001-02.
Offense More Prevalent in 2nd Half
YSU has scored more points in the second half than in the first 23 times in 26 games. For the year, YSU averages 9.2 more points and shoots 10.4 percent higher in the second half than in the first. Five times, YSU has scored 20 more points in the second half than in the first. YSU is 7-2 when ahead at halftime and 3-14 when trailing. Both of those losses came last week.
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).
Draining 3s in League Games
In its 15 Horizon League games, YSU has made 163 3-pointers – an average of 10.9 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 163 3s the entire season. YSU is shooting 36.6 percent from distance in league play, up from 29.7 percent in non-conference games.
Guins Among NCAA's Best at 3s
Through Feb. 18, YSU ranks tied-for-third in the country with 9.5 3-pointers made per game. The Guins are tied with Fresno State, and UT Martin is second with 10.0 per game. Florida Gulf Coast, led by YSU head coach Bob Boldon's mentor Karl Smesko, leads the nation with 11.1 per game. YSU is averaging 10.9 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.
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 seven 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 four games remaining on its schedule, YSU has already broken the school record for 3-pointers made in a season. The Guins have 247 this season, topping last season's record of 205. YSU is 16 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.
Middlebrooks is Money from 3
Senior Kenya Middlebrooks ranks third in school history with 155 career 3-pointers in 116 games. She has 69 in 26 games this year and leads the Horizon League with 2.7 3-pointers per game. Her 69 treys ranks tied-for-fourth 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 127 makes in 346 attempts over her last 50 games – an average of 2.5 per game and 36.7 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
YSU's senior class of Tieara Jones, Kenya Middlebrooks and Macey Nortey is guaranteed just four more games. 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 69 this season. She ranks third in YSU history with 155 career 3s.
- Nortey is one of six players in YSU history to start 100 games. She ranks fourth in career minutes, sixth in starts, seventh in assists, 15th in steals and 16th in free throws. This year she has a career-best 1.6 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 1,378 points in her 86 career games for an average of 16.0 per game, which is the fourth-best in YSU history. She has scored at least 20 points in 10 of YSU's 15 league games, and she's been in double figures 51 times in the last 56 games. Brown also ranks sixth in school history in career rebounds with 838.
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 nine of her last 12 games. Fickiesen leads YSU in field-goal percentage (.442) and ranks second in assists (50) and blocks (7) and third in steals (34). 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 6.3), and she's upped her shooting percentage from 28.7 percent to 40.6 percent. Touvelle is 46-for-120 from 3-point range, which gives her the third-most makes ever by a YSU sophomore.
YSU plays at Detroit on Saturday at 2:05 p.m.