Penguins Beat Robert Morris in Overtime in Thrilling Season Opener

The Penguins celebrate after Melinda Trimmer's game-tying shot at the end of regulation. (Photo by Rob Hayes)
The Penguins celebrate after Melinda Trimmer's game-tying shot at the end of regulation. (Photo by Rob Hayes)

Melinda Trimmer hit a jumper with 1.2 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and the Youngstown State women's basketball team went on to beat Robert Morris 69-59 in the season opener on Tuesday evening at the Beeghly Center.

Trimmer's basket came on a broken play to cap a wild final 70 seconds of regulation. Nneka Ezeigbo's basket got Robert Morris within 52-51 with 1:04 left, and Isabella Posset stole an inbounds pass and drove for a go-ahead layup to put the Colonials up 53-52. Sarah Cash hit a driving bucket with 25 seconds left to put YSU back on top, but Honoka Ikematsu answered with a 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left to put the preseason NEC favorites back up and set the stage for Trimmer.

YSU called time out to advance the ball into the front court, and Cash got the ball as the primary option. She was double-teamed near the basket, and she fought through it to get the ball to Trimmer in the left corner. The senior hit the 17-footer with 1.2 seconds on the clock to tie the game, and Ikematsu's shot was wide at the buzzer.

The Penguins went on to score the first seven points in overtime – four on free throws and the other three on a big triple by Alison Smolinski – to go up 63-56 with 3:04 left. Robert Morris got no closer than six, and the lead grew to 12 when Cash made two free throws with 58 seconds left. YSU was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in the extra period.

Cash finished with a game-high 16 points, and Olson posted a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds. McKenah Peters scored 14, and Smolinski finished with 10.

Ikematsu finished with 15 points in 24 minutes off the bench to lead Robert Morris.

Youngstown State outshot the Colonials 37.3 percent to 34.4 percent, and it held a 41-35 edge in rebounding. That was a major change from RMU's 84-52 victory last season when the Colonials outrebounded the Penguins 40-18.

The Penguins scored the first six points of the game as Smolinski and Olson hit 3-pointers on YSU's first two possessions of the game. Robert Morris got within 8-6, but YSU went on a prolonged run and built a 22-12 lead on a three-point play by Cash with 51 seconds left in the first quarter.

Robert Morris would score the final four points of the first, and it eventually took its first lead at 26-25 on a 3-pointer by Nadege Pluviose with 2:28 left in the second. Olson answered with a 3-pointer at the 1:25 mark to put YSU up 28-26, and that's what the score remained at halftime.

Peters scored seven straight points during an 80-second stretch in the third quarter to put the Penguins up 35-29. Robert Morris made three straight 3-pointers during a 9-0 run that put it back on top 42-40, and YSU's Mary Dunn scored the final six points of the quarter to give the Penguins a 46-42 lead heading into the fourth.

The Penguins led 50-44 following a Peters layup with 5:18 left in the fourth. That was their final field goal until Cash's bucket put them ahead 54-52 with 25 seconds remaining.

Youngstown State will host Loyola Chicago on Friday at 7 p.m. at Beeghly Center.