Cash is doggone good in Penguins’ win

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Lordstown graduate Sarah Cash (23) takes the ball to the basket during the Youngstown State women’s team’s 73-55 win Saturday over Cleveland State.

YOUNGSTOWN — Troy and Janet Cash showed a picture of their daughters, Sarah and Lauren, posing with Santa Claus and their five dogs.

It was after Youngstown State’s game Monday over Northern Kentucky, but Sarah was nowhere to be found. She’s not one for crowds, so that wasn’t too unusual. Sarah’s demeanor was in disarray, not pleased with her personal performance.

Troy and Janet said they were taking Sarah home to see her dogs, something that brings the Lordstown High School graduate great solace.

“I love going home to see my dogs, especially if I play bad,” said Cash, who was 5-of-13 that game.

Joy flowed through her 6-foot-1 body after seeing her dogs. Redemption was on her mind all throughout this past week in practice. The Cleveland State women’s basketball team felt Sarah’s wrath in the first quarter on Saturday, as YSU rolled past the Vikings, 73-55.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Alison Smolinski of YoungstownState drives to the basket Saturday against Cleveland State.

Cash started off with eight points in the Penguins’ 12-0 run to begin the game. She even had a blocked shot and a steal to start her 24-point performance.

“I felt I hadn’t been finishing well the last couple of games,” Cash said. “I stayed after practice (Friday) and worked with (6-4 teammate) Emma VanZanten (who has to sit out this year due to NCAA transfer rules).

“I worked on finishing around the basket and I think that helped.”

She and junior Mary Dunn, Cash’s protege, combined for most of the team’s 50 points near the basket. Dunn, a 6-3 post, has led the Penguins in Horizon League play, averaging 15 points and seven rebounds prior to the CSU game. She had 22 points in Saturday’s game.

The two are the dominant force in the league as the Penguins (15-5, 7-2 Horizon) have won three straight and eight of their last 10.

Chelsea Olson had eight assists and Alison Smolinski added 14 points.

“Sarah Cash and Dunn are both doing a great job of sealing and going for the ball. Without the guards, they’re not getting those layups,” YSU coach John Barnes said.

Cleveland State (7-13, 4-5) had an almost three-rebounds per game edge over league opponents coming into Saturday’s game. Against YSU, the Penguins dominated around the basket with a 41-24 advantage inrebounds. McKenah Peters led the Penguins with 10, while Dunn had seven.

YSU constantly works on boxing out its opponents, something the Penguins did well against the Vikings.

“A lot of it has to do with wanting it, the effort,” Barnes said. “Some of the technique. The best rebounders want the ball and go after it.

“I thought we had a lot of players wanting the basketball today.”

Dunn is a much more aggressive player this season than her first two, but it doesn’t affect her bubbly personality.

“She’s got a little edge to her, but she’s not mean if you talk to her,” Cash said.

“I’m really nice on the court, but I have my meanness in my play,” Dunn said.

Barnes’ frustration and that of the Penguins came through in the second half as YSU had 14 of its 16 turnovers. Cleveland State had 18 fast-break points off of those 14 Penguin miscues.

“We were discussing the whole second half, trying to take care of the ball,” Barnes said.

That was the one hiccup in Saturday’s performance as YSU is in a three-way tie for second place in the league with IUPUI and Green Bay, which lost to IUPUI on Saturday. Wright State is in first by a half game at 7-1.

The Penguins’ third-straight win had to do with being more aggressive than they were against Northern Kentucky when it took YSU until late in the third quarter to put away the Norse.

“We came out right away and played well from the start,” Barnes said. “We were sharp, focused to jump out to a 10-0 lead. Then, we kept executing throughout the first half.”

Cash’s early intensity had a lot to do with the Penguins performance. You might say it was doggone good.