YSU heats up to edge Flames

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Youngstown State's Nikki Arbanas tries to break free of the defense of UIC's Brittany Boyd during the first quarter of Thursday's game in Youngstown. The Penguins won, 76-63, over the University of Illinois-Chicago at the Beeghly Center.

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown State women’s basketball team found a way to rebound from a dreadful start.

The Penguins bottomed out at 17 percent from the floor and missed their first seven 3-pointers by the first four minutes of the second quarter.

UIC held a three-point lead, but then YSU began to surge and eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 76-63 victory over the Flames on Thursday at the Beeghly Center.

The Penguins had nine first-quarter turnovers.

“We were playing too fast in the first quarter,” said YSU’s McKenah Peters, who had 14 points off the bench.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Youngstown State's Sarah Cash grimaces as she is called for traveling during the first quarter of Thursday's game in Youngstown. UIC's Teodora Zagorac is also pictured.

YSU went on an 11-3 run to open the fourth quarter as the Penguins took a 61-49 lead on a Kelley Wright jumper with 6:28 remaining. Nikki Arbanas added a 3 with 4:30 left for a 67-53 lead.

YSU shot 12 of 19 in the second half as the Penguins shot 48.8 percent for the game. YSU was 28 of 37 from the foul line.

“That was huge,” Barnes said.

YSU also held a 31 to 26 rebounding advantage.

“That was a huge key going into the game,” Peters said.

In the third quarter, UIC’s Gabryelle Johnson had a hook shot over Sarah Cash, who had a team-high 17 points, that tied the game at 31 with 7:30 left in the third quarter.

A Peters’ 3 gave YSU (6-8, 2-1 Horizon League) a 36-34 lead with about 5 minutes left in the third. Indiya Benjamin, who had 13 points, then hit from the corner with 2:25 left for 43-40 advantage. She followed that up with an 8-foot jumper off an offensive rebound with 2 minutes left as YSU led 45-40.

Melinda Trimmer then took the ball in the UIC backcourt with a couple of seconds left and made a running 3 from the top of the key before the third-quarter buzzer sounded for a 50-46 lead for the Flames (7-6, 0-2).

It was a slow start for both teams in the first half as YSU was shooting 3 of 15 from the floor and 0 of 7 from 3-point range with about 6 minutes left in the second quarter. The Flames held the lead for most of the first half, but YSU came back to take the lead with Benjamin’s 3 with 2:40 left before intermission, 20-17.

She hit another 3 with 40 seconds remaining as the Penguins extended the lead, 27-23.

YSU grabbed a rebound with 10 seconds left as Benjamin called for the ball and instructed Dunn to set a pick near midcourt. She then found Chelsea Olson in the corner, in front of the UIC bench. as the YSU freshman hit a 3 before the halftime buzzer for a 30-23 Penguins’ lead on YSU’s second buzzer-beating 3.

It capped a night where YSU’s bench outscored the Flames, 38-14.

“Everyone contributed,” Barnes said. “It was nice.”

UIC was led by Brittany Byrd and Taylor Toney with 13 points each.

Saturday, YSU hosts IUPUI starting at 4:15 p.m.