Women regress in loss to IUPUI

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo YSU's Chelsea Olson (12) guards IUPUI's Jenna Gunn (32) during the first quarter of Saturday's game in Youngstown. IUPUI won, 65-43.

YOUNGSTOWN — Coach John Barnes stood by the water cooler, a favorite spot of the Youngstown State women’s basketball coach.

He was frustrated at something he saw on the floor and the rolled up papers in his hand went flying in the first half of Saturday’s game.

Barnes grabbed the papers by his feet, just like his team is picking up the pieces after a 65-43 loss to Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

The Penguins were on the verge of finding some consistency in the Horizon League, coming off of Thursday’s victory over the University of Illinois-Chicago, but they took a step back. After a solid showing against UIC, with free throws in mass quantity, 28 of 37 from the line, 3-pointers hovering around 50 percent and solid shooting from the floor. The Penguins (6-9, 2-2 Horizon League) even led in rebounds.

Not Saturday. The Jaguars (11-3, 3-0) led in all those categories as YSU struggled.

The Penguins were playing the best team in the Horizon League. Their only player in double figures was redshirt junior Sarah Cash, who had 11 points. The next closest Penguin was Mary Dunn, with seven points off the bench.

The other four YSU starters were 6 of 26 from the floor with 16 points.

YSU shot 17 of 59 and missed many close shots during Saturday’s game.

“They did a really good job of taking us out of rhythm,” said Barnes, whose team shot 5 of 22 from 3-point range. “Our top kids have to perform well on the offensive end. We didn’t. They’re big, long and athletic and putting the pressure on you. It’s a lot harder to make them. You got to step up our level and find a way to finish.”

Barnes clapped while holding his papers after Morgan Brunner hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter, closing the IUPUI lead to 48-38. But Jaguar junior guard Sydney Hall took the next possession down court, approached the 3-point line, went behind the back with a dribble and drove to the basket. The 5-foot-6 guard, who averages 8.5 points per game, had a game-high 24 points.

It was the start of a 15-1 run that put this game away for the Horizon League-leading Jaguars. Hall was 6 of 7 from 3-point range, for an IUPUI team that was 10 of 27 from that range.

IUPUI’s Danielle Lawrence averaged more than 20 points a game in league play, but was held to four points.

“We wanted to make someone else beat us,” Barnes said. “We held (IUPUI) under their average. We couldn’t score.”

The Penguins start a four-game road trip Thursday at Green Bay, starting at 8 p.m.

YSU has a couple days to rectify what happened Saturday before playing one of the best mid-major teams in the country in the Phoenix. The Penguins then play at Milwaukee on Saturday.

With the IUPUI loss, YSU faces three straight opponents ranked in the mid-major top 25.

“Our league is a beast and they’re really good,” Barnes said. “If we finish better, we don’t have those droughts. We had some shots that we normally make and didn’t make them. Not much you can do about it.”