Plenty of smiles
YSU women rout Carlow to reach 4-0
YOUNGSTOWN — Madison Mallory smiled as she took a glance to her right.
On the table in front of her during a postgame news conference were the final statistics of Friday’s 90-31 win over Carlow.
She saw the 15 points beside her name, high scorer for the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team. Someone in her home state of Illinois saw the 6-foot-2 freshman forward have a career-high in her young collegiate career.
“I know my mom is going to be really happy,” Mallory said.
Joni Mallory in Geneva, Illinois, isn’t the only one ecstatic with her daughter’s performance.
YSU coach John Barnes saw not only Mallory have one of her better performances, but also 5-6 freshman guard Deleah Gibson and 6-1 redshirt freshman forward Amara Chikwe.
Chikwe had six points and 11 rebounds, while Gibson scored 11 points. Each had at least 26 minutes on the floor.
“For them to play a lot and do well, builds their confidence,” Barnes said. “It’s good for us.”
He saw 6-foot-3 junior Mary Dunn standing atop the 3-point arc with the ball.
“Mary, shoot,” Barnes yelled from the bench, encouraging his post player.
The YSU center swished through her only 3 of the game in Friday’s domination over NAIA Carlow, located in downtown Pittsburgh.
Dunn hit a 3-pointer in Tuesday’s win over the University of Pittsburgh, near the Carlow campus.
“As you can see, she’s very capable of knocking them down,” Barnes said.
As offensively gifted as the Penguins were Friday, their start left something to be desired. YSU held a 6-4 lead and only had a 13-4 advantage after one quarter. The Penguins were 0-of-8 from 3-point range, 6-of-19 from the floor.
“We’re definitely going to get yelled at for the first half, being sharp,” Smolinski said. “But, that’s all right.”
It was as YSU dramatically improved to a 38-10 lead at halftime. The defense, something Barnes has been adamant about since taking the Penguins job, was much improved in the second half.
“The perimeter players did a good job switching the second half when we needed to,” he said. “They communicated well and switched at different points in the second half.”
Chikwe had four assists, three steals and no turnovers, statistics not lost on Barnes. She played well beyond her years Friday night.
“I think of her as a junior already, but she’s only a freshman,” Barnes said. “It was a good job for her.”
YSU’s bench outscored Carlow 46-17, which gave the Penguins time to sit Lordstown redshirt senior Sarah Cash, who has had her fair share of knee injuries over her career and was limited to 6 minutes. Other starters Chelsea Olson and Smolinski were held to less than 20 minutes.
“All those things were good for us tonight,” Barnes said.
Melinda Trimmer looked over at McKenah Peters as the two sat in front of the middle of the scorer’s table. Both were smiling before entering the game. There was reason for the Penguins to feel joyous. This is the third 4-0 start for the Penguins in Barnes’ six seasons and the 20th-consecutive victory over a non-Division I opponent since 1990.
The 31 points is the third fewest allowed by a YSU team since 1990.
The Penguins had five players in double figures with Alison Smolinski scoring 14 and Dunn and Peters 11 each.
Winning is a fun factor of this YSU team, which travels to Kent State on Tuesday.
“We pulled ourselves together and played as a team,” Mallory said. “You just get really happy for your teammates. Everyone is playing well and you’re having fun.”