Penguins start league play

Tribune Chronicle file / John Vargo The Youngstown State women’s basketball team, including freshmen Chelsea Olson, left, and McKenah Peters, begin Horizon League play Thursday at home against Detroit Mercy.

YOUNGSTOWN — Melinda Trimmer said her team’s goal was to hold Penn State-Beaver to less than 40 points on Wednesday.

She asked how many Beaver scored. Someone at the postgame news conference said 40 and the Beloit native had reason to smile.

Trimmer, a junior guard for the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team, said the Penguins will take that experience as they look toward the team’s first Horizon League game, Thursday at 7 p.m., at the Beeghly Center. YSU faces Detroit Mercy, 0-11 on the season. The Penguins are 4-7 after the 97-40 win last week over PSU-Beaver.

“We were able to push the ball really well today,” said Trimmer, who played at West Branch High School. “I think that’s something we haven’t been doing that much this year. It was good for us to get better at that today.

“We’ll look at the film and see how that can help us for Detroit, look forward to that game.”

Detroit has lost to Michigan State, Michigan, Clemson and Illinois, along with Mid-American Conference teams like Kent State, Toledo, Miami (Ohio), Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan.

YSU played a handful of conference leaders like Kent State, American, Robert Morris and Bucknell — all losses for the Penguins.

“We knew the non-conference was going to be a struggle,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “Ultimately if it helps us get ready for conference play, that’s what we wanted.”

YSU played 15 players Wednesday with only two not reaching the scoring column. One was Alison Smolinski (5-9, Jr., North Royalton), who hurt her left ankle during the first couple of minutes of the game. She was helped off the floor and taken for X-rays. Results of those X-rays have not been revealed, but YSU officials say Smolinski is probable to doubtful for Thursday’s game.

That means YSU may have to rely on its bench going forward.

Josie Fisher (5-7, Jr., Fort Wayne, Ind.), a junior college transfer, had seven assists and no turnovers Wednesday. Freshman Chelsea Olson (Westby, Wis.) showed flashes of what she could do.

Freshman McKenah Peters (LaGrange Keystone) continues to improve — scoring in double figures for the second straight game.

“Coach Barnes has given us opportunities that some freshmen may not have gotten at other schools,” Peters said. “We’ve putting numbers up and I’m glad we’re getting opportunities. We’re just excited.”

Trimmer, who averaged less than two points a game coming into Wednesday, had 12 points off the bench. It’s something Barnes hopes to see more often as the Penguins enter league play.

“I think it was a good way to go out for Christmas,” Trimmer said.