Shy, YSU throttle UIC, 69-46
YOUNGSTOWN — It was a confidence-building performance for Paige Shy.
Having not eclipsed double figures since Dec. 2’s win over Milwaukee, the junior transfer from Marshall caught fire from deep Friday night, sinking 5-of-8 shots from 3-point range to score 15, as YSU throttled visiting Illinois-Chicago in Horizon League play, 69-46, in front of 1,297 fans at the Beeghly Center.
The win is YSU’s seventh in a row, and the Penguins furthered their Horizon League win streak to nine.
“Once I saw one go in, it definitely helped my confidence out. I feel like I just needed that one to go in,” Shy said. “And then I just kept building off of that and the energy, and my teammates were getting me the ball. My confidence was on today.”
With YSU (15-1, 9-0) leading 15-13 after the first quarter, Shy and Lilly Ritz took things over in the second. Ritz poured in 12 points in the frame, and that was augmented with Shy’s sharp shooting, as she hit two of her 3-pointers during that span to give YSU a 41-23 advantage going into halftime. Ritz finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Malia Magestro also broke double figures, scoring 11 points.
From there, the Penguins never looked back. UIC only got back to within 20 points once, and that was early in the third quarter.
Of Ritz, Shy commented, “It’s hard to guard inside and outside. (UIC is) a great team, but having Lilly’s dominance in the post, you double her, and she makes a great pass out and we shoot a three or we drive in, she seals or she gets a layup. I think we work really well inside-out with her.”
And as it’s been all season, defense also was a key for the Penguins. UIC’s 46 points were the second-lowest YSU has allowed in Horizon League play this season, the lowest mark being Purdue Fort Wayne’s 41 on Dec. 30.
YSU also forced 21 turnovers, and parlayed those into 17 points. The Flames (2-10, 1-6) were mostly held at bay from the field, shooting 37 percent from the field until a 6-for-10 fourth quarter boosted that final percentage to 42.2.
UIC’s Jaida McCloud, who averaged 17 points per game entering the contest, was kept to seven, while Kristian Young was held to 10, the most of any Flame.
“We tried to get out in the passing lanes a little bit for (UIC’s) better players and just make it tough for them to execute their offense,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “We don’t usually force a lot of turnovers, but we were able to today, and we had 17 points off turnovers so that was big for us.”
YSU also dominated on the glass, outrebounding UIC 46-28. Of its 46 boards, 25 came on the offensive end, leading to 18 second-chance points. It also yielded plenty of opportunities to shoot, as the Penguins fired off a season-high 72 field goal attempts, eclipsing the 71 attempted against Point Park.
And now, with the first of its weekend’s business handled, the Penguins gear up for perhaps their toughest Horizon League test to date — a Sunday matchup with preseason favorite IUPUI. The Jaguars dispatched Robert Morris on Friday, 63-44.
Having forfeited a couple early-season conference games due to COVID-19 protocol, though, the Jaguars are currently three games back of YSU in the Horizon League standings. A Penguin win would bury them into a four-game hole and further cement YSU’s grip on the conference’s top slot.
“They’re very good. They have a three-time Horizon League Player of the Year (in Macee Williams),” Barnes said, later adding, “They’re just an outstanding team, a well-coached, great program. We’ve worked really hard to get ourselves into this position to have a chance to have two of the top teams in the league going at it.”