YSU Penguins freeze Pitt women’s basketball, 64-55


Kaycee Orwig | Staff Photographer

Redshirt senior Aysia Bugg (2) completed seven field goals during Pitt’s 64-55 loss to Youngstown.

By Dominic Campbell, Staff Writer

While the Pitt women’s team hoped to keep winning after defeating New Orleans by more than 50 points Friday night, they ran into an offensive brick wall against Youngstown State, losing 64-55.

The Panthers (1-2) shot 21-60, or 35 percent, against the Penguins (3-0), including 5-14 in the fourth quarter. Pitt also had a big problem with being out-rebounded by the mid-major team, losing the battle on the boards 41-32, which head coach Lance White talked about as a place where his team needs to improve.

“At this level you have to be able to rebound the ball,” White said. “You can’t give them second, third, fourth chances. They’re gonna knock shots down if they get that many looks and again I thought it was just a toughness issue. I just thought our kids caved to where they needed to go toughen up to make some plays.”

The game was close throughout the first quarter, with Pitt only leading 12-11 at the end of the first media timeout. Redshirt senior guard Aysia Bugg had a great start for the Panthers, scoring seven of the first nine points of the quarter and led the team with nine in the quarter. Senior forward Kauai Bradley was successful on the other side of the court, getting two blocks and two steals, including one for a bucket.

Still, the Penguins posed a challenge for the Panthers, with every Penguin who played in the quarter getting on the scoresheet. Sophomore guard Chelsea Olson led the team with four points, while senior guard Alison Smolinski and sophomore McKenah Peters had three each.  
The second quarter started with a quick 8-0 run for Pitt. Bugg continued her scoring with a 3-pointer and senior guard Cassidy Walsh joined her with a three of her own. Senior center Kalista Walters did good work down low to get around her defender and earn her first points of the game, which caused Youngstown State to call a timeout with 8:14 left in the quarter.

The Penguins quickly reversed the momentum after the timeout, going on a 8-0 run of their own. Junior forward Mary Dunn started the run with a bucket down low and also drained a wide open 3-pointer from the center, while sophomore guard Chelsea Olson converted an and-one opportunity.

Both teams shot poorly in the quarter, with Pitt shooting 5-16, 26.3 percent, against Youngstown State’s 5-15, 33.3 percent. The Penguins also shot 3-10 from the 3-point line. Junior guard Jasmine Whitney struggled for the Panthers in the second quarter, going 1-5, as well as Bradley who went 0-3.

Both teams took advantage of the poor scoring on the defensive side of the ball. While Bradley struggled to score, she provided three assists in the quarter, as well as two rebounds, one steal and one block.

The Penguins broke away to end the quarter, going on another run with seven unanswered points. Both Olson and Smolinski hit 3-pointers and redshirt senior forward Sarah Cash made another three to take a 33-28 lead into the half. Olson led the team with 10 points in the game at that point.

A big missing point for the Panthers in the first half was senior forward Danielle Garven, who sat for most of the half as she picked up two quick fouls. She failed to make an impact in the game as she didn’t score on 0-4 shooting in 17 minutes of play.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Penguins rebuked every attempt and kept the lead throughout the third quarter. Olson continued to play well, making a jumper and a layup with two assists and also grabbing two rebounds on defense. Peters also joined Olson with four points off of two layups and getting two rebounds.

Sophomore guard Kyla Nelson got on the scoresheet with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to four, but  senior guard Melinda Trimmer responded for Youngstown State with a 3-pointer right after to make it 42-35.

The Penguins also won the third quarter on the boards, with a 10-5 advantage. Smolinski and redshirt first-year forward Amara Chikwe both got two rebounds to equal Peters and Olson in the quarter, with Cash and Dunn also getting one each. Going into the fourth, Youngstown State still had a 46-40 lead.

It took two minutes until the next score in the fourth quarter, when Smolinski hit a 3-pointer to bring the lead up to nine for the Penguins. Bradley hit two foul shots on the next possession to get the lead back to seven, but Peters then made a driving layup to put it back to nine.

Pitt responded with two made foul shots by Bugg, who ended her night with 20 points and a mid-range jumper by Whitney cut it to 51-46. Smolinski hit a 3-pointer right after that make to put Youngstown State back up by eight.

After sophomore center Cara Judkins made one of her four free throws, Walters got the lead back down to five after a make down in the post with 4:14 remaining. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Smolinski hit another 3-pointer to again make the lead eight for the Penguins.

After a 30-second timeout, the Panthers tried to go full-court press to stop the Penguins. The first full-court press didn’t work as Youngstown State was able to wind down the clock with Trimmer’s crossover sending Walsh to the floor and then converting the floater to make it 62-53. Walters made another basket to again cut it to seven, giving her eight points in the quarter and 10 overall for the game.

Pitt went full-court press again, this time forcing Trimmer to turn it over, but Walsh failed to make a layup and Youngstown State got the ball. Smolinski scored the game’s final points as she made both foul shots, giving her 14 in the quarter and 20 for the game, leading the Penguins in scoring. Afterward, White cited Smolinski’s performance as the primary reason his team failed to come back in the fourth quarter.

“Oh everytime, boy, she had a dagger each time we started to make a couple of runs. And again she’s a great player,” White said. “I think their team is really scrappy and they fight for every possession, so I thought they did a great job of battling our runs whenever we’d try to get back in the game, but she really made some key shots for them. And that really made it where we couldn’t ever close that gap well enough to make our true run form.”

After Bugg missed another 3-point attempt with 15 seconds to go, Youngstown State ran out the clock and emerged victorious in their only game against a Power 5 conference team this season.

The Panthers next face the Cincinnati Bearcats Friday at 7 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.