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Penguins bashed on the boards by WSU

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes McKenah Peters, center, battles for a rebound against multiple Wright State players.

YOUNGSTOWN — Shamarre Hale saw the ball come off the rim as Youngstown State University women’s basketball players tried to establish their position, surrounding the 6-foot-2 Wright State redshirt freshman.

It was too late.

Hale grabbed the ball and went slightly vertical as the ball left her hand. It hit the backboard and went through the hoop.

Wright State saw this scenario develop 13 other times during the first half en route to a 13-point halftime lead and a 67-54 victory over the Penguins on Thursday at the Beeghly Center.

The Raiders (13-10, 8-4 Horizon League) outrebounded the Penguins (11-12, 4-8) 28-18 before halftime and had 16 offensive rebounds. By game’s end, Wright State had 23 offensive rebounds and a 51-28 advantage on the boards.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Jen Wendler (left) snags an offensive rebound for YSU during the first half.

“In the first half we dug ourselves in a very deep hole that’s hard to get out of in the second half,” said YSU junior McKenah Peters, who had a game-high 17 points. “We have to be smart and box people out, find bodies. I know we were transitioning into different defenses, switching man, regular man, triangle and two. It’s difficult sometimes to find a body. At the end of the day, we need to communicate and find somebody to box out.”

It wasn’t just Hale for a Wright State team that has three players taller than 6-feet. YSU has 6-2 freshman Jen Wendler. Injured senior Mary Dunn (6-3) is applying for a medical redshirt at the end of the season, while Emma VanZanten (6-4) might come back from a broken metatarsal in her right foot before the end of the season. Both Dunn and VanZanten’s injuries happened in mid-November. The Penguins have been playing with an outsized and often shorthanded lineup ever since.

Taylor Petit and McKenah Peters were hurt for the better part of January as YSU played with eight players. Both are back in the YSU lineup, but had trouble getting the ball off of Wright State missed shots.

In the end, it was a couple of Wright State guards, Angel Baker and Michal Miller, with 12 points each. Anisja Harris had 10 points off the bench and a team-high five offensive rebounds. She had 11 rebounds total.

Hale had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Quinece Hatcher looks for a play inside during the second half. She chipped in for nine points.

“Those are two of the best guards I’ve seen tandem-wise in maybe my whole time here,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “Miller and Baker can really play. They can create their own shot like crazy. They’re really good.”

Despite the size differential and offensive rebounding disadvantage, YSU got within seven, 57-50, on Chelsea Olson’s 3-pointer with about 4:39 remaining. The Penguins would get no closer.

“We tried to do whatever we could to get back into the game,” Peters said. “Again, we gave up some offensive rebounds and paint touches.”

The Penguins kept hanging around for the first quarter as YSU was 5 of 12 from the floor and Wright State was 6 of 21. The Raiders’ offensive rebounding kept them in the game in the first 10 minutes as they held a 14-13 lead after one quarter.

The narrative changed in the next 10 minutes when Wright State’s offense matched its work around the boards, shooting 8 of 20 from the floor. YSU slumped in that quarter with a 3 of 15 effort. Wright State surged ahead with a 34-21 halftime lead.

It didn’t get any better in the third quarter as the Raiders began the second half on an 8-2 run and all but put the game away. The communication on the floor wasn’t there for YSU.

“Our communication is low lately,” Peters said. “We have to do whatever we can to bottle up and communicate as a team.”

Barnes clarified her point.

“She’s talking about who we’re guarding and what defense we’re in,” he said. “It comes with more leadership on the court, someone taking shirt collars and saying, ‘We’re in this. You’ve got this person.’ We changed up a lot of defenses tonight. That lends us to be a little out of sorts. We can definitely do a better job of that.”

Saturday, the Penguins host Northern Kentucky at 1 p.m.

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