Women face Kent in first home game

YOUNGSTOWN — Mary Dunn remembers last year when she was a freshman.

The 6-foot-3 sophomore post earned Horizon League Freshman of the Year honors, but the Youngstown State University women’s basketball center knows she had her down times as well — admitting she made her share of mistakes.

Dunn spent the offseason working on her skills, losing weight and gaining muscle in the weight room so she came out as a stronger, quicker version of herself this season.

Helping players like fellow post Anne Secrest, Chelsea Olson and other freshmen is also important to her as the team heads into today’s home opener against Kent State, starting at 5:15 p.m. It is the first part of a YSU doubleheader. The Penguins men play Franciscan at 7:35 p.m.

“It’s easy to get down on yourself,” Dunn said. “The biggest thing is moral support and trying to help in that way.”

YSU coach John Barnes saw the freshmen players’ collective case of nerves during Friday’s opening loss at Pittsburgh.

“They made some mistakes they probably haven’t made since eighth grade,” he said.

It was expected as YSU had 20 turnovers against the Panthers. Better play comes from experience, especially for these Penguin freshmen.

“The more games they play, the more minutes they play in live game action, the more comfortable they’ll get,” Barnes said. “You try to make practice as game-like as you can. When it comes down to it, it’s not like it is when the lights are on, referees are there and the crowd is there.”

SCOUTING KENT STATE: The Golden Flashes are the defending Mid-American Conference, East Division Champions.

KSU is led by forward Jordan Korinek, who had 29 points against Northern Kentucky Saturday in a 59-54 victory.

Limiting the Golden Flashes post is key for YSU today.

“If we can stop her, we can definitely win the game,” Dunn said. “Big for me, Sarah (Cash) and Anne to have a big game.”

CASHING IN ON MINUTES: Cash, a Lordstown native and 6-1 redshirt junior post, had 12 points in 12 minutes, along with four rebounds against Pittsburgh.

Cash’s knee issues haven’t resolved as fast as Barnes and the YSU team had hoped.

He intently watches her on the court. If Barnes sees Cash struggling, he takes her out for a break and hopes to get her back in as soon as possible.

“It would’ve been nice to play Cash a little longer,” Barnes said. “We’re still trying to make sure she’s able to play through the whole season. She’s limited.”