Youngstown State women push back, beat Detroit

YOUNGSTOWN – Chelcie Ross, the actor who played Notre Dame coach Dan Devine in the movie Rudy, scanned the locker room in one scene.

He looked around the room before the team’s last game against Georgia Tech saying, “No one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around.”

Thursday, the Youngstown State women’s basketball team didn’t garner the same respect.

Detroit bullied its way in the early going against a smaller Penguins team, taking a 6-0 lead. The Titans 12-2 advantage in fouls midway through the first half.

Then, something drastically changed as the Penguins stood up to a tough Detroit team in Thursday’s 58-53 victory at the Beeghly Center.

It was much different for a YSU team used to scoring 64 points a game.

“You’re not going to score and everything comes up roses. They do things very, very well,” said YSU coach Bob Boldon, whose team won the battle for sole possession for second place in the Horizon League.

YSU improves to 16-5, 6-2 in the league, while Detroit drops to 12-8, 5-3.

“It feels real good getting second place,” said YSU Karen Flagg, who got a team high 17 points.

Green Bay, which beat YSU earlier this season, remains in first place, undefeated in the league at 8-0 and 18-2 overall.

However, YSU had to overcome the Detroit bruising tactics on the court, which led to a 48-38 rebounding advantage.

Then, the Penguins stood up to their aggressors and fought back with some quick ball rotation and timely baskets to get back into the game.

But it was the hustle plays that made the difference. YSU’s Brandi Brown dove for possession of a loose ball in front of the Penguins bench while Boldon clapped. Then, there was an ensuing YSU steal where the Penguins worked the ball around to Monica Touvelle for a 3, giving YSU its first lead at 9-7 with 13:33 before the half.

“I don’t think we were necessarily ready for the physicalness of the game the first couple of possessions,” Boldon said. “It turned the tide that we were going to compete and get loose balls as well. I thought they beat us to the first couple possessions and that turned the tide a little bit – that we were going to compete and get loose balls as well.

“They had a significant lead in the first half because of their physicalness and ability to pursue.”

YSU held a 29-25 lead at the break, but Detroit went up 39-38 on Shareta Brown’s basket with 12:31 remaining.

The Penguins then went on a 10-0 run.

Flagg, Shar’rea Davis and Heidi Schelgel all had three fouls during the first part of the second half. Flagg was playing with four fouls the last 12 minutes.

Davis and Schlegel fouled out, but Flagg managed to avoid her fifth.

“I was scared to foul out,” Flagg said.

More importantly, Brown, who scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds, fouled out with 7:08 left. The 6-foot Detroit post player had more girth than the other players, but was very nimble on her feet. Demeisha Fambro led the Titans with 16 points.

“She’s a fantastic basketball player,” Boldon said. “She’s the best basketball player in the conference. You talk to the other coaches in the conference and nobody had a plan to stop her. She had 15 points and went 5 of 9 from the field, so that plan went out the window the next time we play them.”

Most of YSU’s game plan went out the window in the final minute. The Penguins seemingly content to shoot 3s and pass the ball around, committed a couple of late turnovers. Senee Shearer’s 3 cut the YSU lead to 56-53 with 57 seconds remaining.

Detroit missed two ensuing 3s and then YSU committed a backcourt violation, giving the Titans one more triple try. Audrey Matteson’s 3 airballed. Touvelle rebounded and was fouled. She made both ends of a one-and-one for the game’s final score.

“We have to do a better job of handling pressure down the stretch,” said Boldon, whose team next plays Thursday at Milwaukee. “We made some silly plays and some reads we don’t typically make.”

The plays YSU made were not offensive, but more physical in nature, like the one with 3 minutes left where Brown wrestled away a jump ball from Detroit’s Audrey Matteson as the Titans player flopped to the ground like a rag doll.

Brown, who had 12 points and 18 rebounds, made the difference in other areas than just the scoreboard.

“She’s just so good,” Boldon said. “We’re complaining because she had another double-double. She missed some shots that were uncharacteristic of her. The nice thing about Brandi is she’ll get in the gym this week. If she gets her shots against Milwaukee, I think she’ll knock them down.”

Thursday, YSU knocked down Detroit.