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YSU rallies for last-second win

YOUNGSTOWN — Corrione Cardwell drove past the Youngstown State defense, just as Eastern Michigan did numerous times during the first two quarters of the women’s basketball game Saturday morning at the Beeghly Center.

It was much different in the final two quarters, but the Eagles tied the game with 15 seconds remaining.

The Penguins took their final timeout as freshman sharpshooter Maddie Schires entered the game.

Chelsea Olson dribbled toward the YSU bench with less than 10 seconds remaining. She found freshman Mady Aulbach in the left corner. The 5-foot-5 guard from Blackhawk High School in Chippewa, Pennsylvania, was quickly covered by the Eastern Michigan defense.

Aulbach heaved the ball out about 30 feet away from the basket, finding Schires, who dribbled once and launched a 3-pointer from 25 feet away with less than a second remaining. Eastern Michigan’s Jenna Annecchiarico leveled Schires on the shot, an aggressive Big Ten-style play the Eagles displayed all 40 minutes.

Schires made two of three free throws with 0.8 seconds showing on the clock to give YSU a 79-77 come-from-behind win, after the Penguins were down by 18 in the first half.

Olson, who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, made the second of her two blocked shots as she rose up and denied Aalyiah Stanley’s 3-pointer from in front of the Eagles’ bench, stuffing any chance of stealing a win from YSU.

Olson, a lanky, 5-foot-10 guard, has a knack of getting herself in the right position, offensively or defensively.

“I knew they couldn’t take a dribble,” Olson said. “I kind of rose up and did my best to contest the shot. I have long arms, so I was able to get there.”

It was the combination of Olson passing to the Penguins’ lone senior, Mary Dunn, for one of many baskets in the post as the 6-3 forward scored a career-high 30 points.

The two connected with seconds left in the third quarter as Olson looked to drive again. Instead, Dunn was outside the 3-point arc. Olson tossed it to her and Dunn drained the triple with a second left as the Penguins took their first lead at 59-58. It capped a 29-13 third quarter in which YSU shot 10 of 16 from the floor and 4 of 7 from 3 to get the Penguins back in the game.

“Chelsea’s awesome,” Dunn said of Olson. “I know when she has the ball she’s going to do something, whether she’s going to get a rebound, assist or score.

“We have an underlying thing. She doesn’t have to tell me she’s going to pass me the ball. I just know it.”

Dunn’s free-throw with 4:52 left gave her 1,000 points in her career. She has 1,004 points in her tenure at YSU. Lordstown native and former YSU standout Sarah Cash was in the crowd, watching the Penguins’ victory.

“I know I’ve said it a million times, but everything I’ve done, I give it to Sarah,” Dunn said. “She’s helped me become the player I am today. It’s pretty cool I got to do it with her being there.”

Schires was 4 of 8 from 3 and had 16 points. Aulbach had a key 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter as YSU took a 64-60 lead. Jen Wendler, a 6-2 post, came in for five points in 3 1/2 minutes off the bench. Those are three of the five true freshman making an impact in Saturday’s game.

“You always talk about so many freshmen, newcomers, getting that experience,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “It’s usually in losses and tough situations where you don’t want it.

“To be able to get those players get all that experience and able to still win is huge.”

The Eagles (1-2) had their way with the Penguins Saturday morning in the first 20 minutes. Eastern Michigan was 19 of 34 after the first two quarters,but still the Penguins (2-2) won their second, including a dominating opener against Canisius.

YSU had trouble boxing out in the first half as there were multiple 3-point shot attempts not even rebounded. The Penguins had one offensive rebound in the first 20 minutes.

Barnes paced in front of the bench, frustrated as his team was 10 of 27 from the floor and 3 of 11 from 3 in the first half.

However, there were some offensive surprises from Eastern Michigan as Annecchiario, who was 4-of-12 coming into the game, had a team-high 19 points. Stanley, who averaged 5.5 points prior to Saturday, added 16 points. Cardwell was held a point and a half below her average for 10 points.

“They were just really hot,” Barnes said. “Got to give Eastern a lot of credit. They played great, made open shots and attacked the rim, did all those things.

“We kept working, playing as hard as we could, hoping that would get us the win.”

Saturday’s victory was a momentum booster for a team that needed it after losing a week ago in overtime to one of the best in the Mid-American Conference, Kent State, and being dominated Wednesday at Robert Morris.

“One and three, you’re wondering how good are we?” said Barnes, whose team outrebounded EMU, 24-11, in the second half. “I kept trying to tell them those are two really good teams we lost to. If you lose this one, you’re confidence is really struggling.

“It does the opposite for us, coming away with 18 points down, finding a way to win, really boosting our confidence.”

Wednesday, YSU is at Akron, starting at 7 p.m.

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