Dunn is big key inside for YSU

YOUNGSTOWN — Milwaukee had a focused game plan, targeting 6-foot-3 Mary Dunn. Then again, most Horizon League teams have tried to slow down the league’s sixth player of the year and a first-team all-league player.

The Youngstown State junior post player from Washington, Pa., was muscled around Wednesday during the Penguins’ Horizon League tournament quarterfinal win against Milwaukee at the Beeghly Center.

Dunn had 10 points and five rebounds, but was popped in the face during the third quarter. She sat out a while, returning in the fourth quarter as the Penguins (22-8) surged ahead of the Panthers.

“They’re a strong team and they always go 100 percent,” said Dunn, whose third-seeded team takes on second-seeded Green Bay Monday in a semifinal at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, starting at 3:30 p.m. “We know we have to have that kind of energy coming into Detroit. I think they prepared us for the high-level intensity that the tournament has.”

Dunn realizes she has to step up her game against Green Bay.

“I know I need to take care of the ball better,” she said. “I think that was a good eye opener for me, I need to be strong with it, make my moves and ball out.”

It won’t be easy facing a Phoenix team that has dominated this league and had numerous top-25 appearances before the Horizon League was in existence, dating back to the 1990s in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.

YSU coach John Barnes knows the Phoenix (21-8) can control the area around the basket.

“Green Bay does a great job of plugging up the paint,” he said. “They want to take away any paint drives, post touches. So we’re going to have to figure out a way to get it in there, get it into Mary. Once she gets the ball, be aware who is digging and helping and possibly doubling and making good decisions from there. That’s what we’re working on this weekend and hopefully we execute Monday.”

Dunn averaged more than 14 points per game during Horizon League play, while 6-1 senior Sarah Cash is the team’s second-leading scorer at more than 13 a game. Cash complemented Dunn on Wednesday with 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds against Milwaukee. Cash also had her 100th career block and passed 1,400 career points during Wednesday’s win.

Dunn and Cash rank in the top three in the league in field-goal percentage. The two rank in the top 10 for Horizon League scorers.

“It’s hard to guard us because both of us shoot from the outside and we can both go inside,” Dunn said. “We have an advantage with Green Bay because they have only one big girl in at times. Having both of us just puts us up some.”

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