YSU’s losing streak ends

Penguin women snap their five-game skid

YOUNGSTOWN — Sarah Cash hit a go-ahead layup with 4.3 seconds to go Saturday at the Beeghly Center.

Northern Arizona didn’t get off a shot and the game was over.

Looking to break a five-game losing streak, the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team faced off against the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks.

YSU got the win, 69-67.

Last year, YSU lost to NAU 70-49 on the road.

Right from the start, YSU’s Nikki Arbanas had it going on. Arbanas hit three of her first four 3-point shots as YSU (3-7) took a 9-0 lead over NAU (3-7).

An Olivia Lucero bucket put the Lumberjacks on the board but YSU got out to a 14-2 lead with 6:50 left in the first quarter. YSU held a 22-7 lead after one quarter. YSU continued good play in the second quarter.

Cash got herself going in the period as she led all scorers with 14 points. YSU led 40-27 at halftime.

“I definitely think that we are coming together better now than we were before. At the beginning of the season, we never did everything the entire game,” YSU forward Sarah Cash said. “We had a downfall but we came back together unlike the beginning of the season.”

Cash believes that playing inside first makes this team much better.

A 5-0 run by NAU to start the second half helped it get within eight before Indiya Benjamin got to the rack for a bucket. NAU brought the energy as it started the half on a 14-2 run to get to a 42-41 YSU lead.

Both teams traded buckets for most of the quarter after that run. NAU turned up the defense in the quarter to take a 50-49 lead after three quarters. Kenna McDavis had six points in the quarter and tied the game-high of 14 points.

“I’m happy we won the game. I thought we played a solid first half defensively,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “Defensively in the second half, we faltered and had a little bit of a letdown. I’m extremely proud of how they fought to get the win.”

Alison Smolinski hit a 3-pointer with 7:21 to go and then Arbanas hit a 3 to go up 57-51. Immediately after, McDavis hit a three to get within three points. Cash also showed up in the fourth as she finished with a game-high 24 points.

“League play is going to be unbelievably tough,” Barnes said. “We had a lot of tough, hard-fought games against top teams so we are battle-tested to find ways to win.”

YSU next plays Wednesday at 11 a.m. against Penn State-Beaver.