Hot start not enough as YSU falls to Green Bay

Green Bay's Allie LeClaire scored 22 points as the Phoenix came from behind to top YSU Saturday evening.

YOUNGSTOWN, OH (WKBN)-A scoring lull at the end of the second period and start of the third ended up dooming the Youngstown State women’s basketball team in a 68-60 loss to Green Bay on Saturday at Beeghly Center.

The Penguins led the defending Horizon League champions by nine twice in the second period, but the Phoenix outscored the Penguins 33-10 over a 13-minute stretch that was the difference in the game. After the battle of unbeaten teams early in the conference season, Green Bay improves to 13-2 overall and 3-0 in the league while YSU drops to 12-3 and 3-1.

Nikki Arbanas, Indiya Benjamin and Sarah Cash each scored 13 points for YSU, and Allie LeClaire led all scorers with 22 for Green Bay. Sam Terry scored 11 points off the bench, including nine on three big triples late in the third period

Green Bay also benefitted from 12 offensive rebounds, which it translated into a 13-4 edge in second-chance points. YSU struggled at the free-throw line, going 7-of-12 in the first half and not having any attempts in the final 20 minutes.

Youngstown State scored 11 straight points over a three-minute stretch between the first and second periods to take a 26-17 lead with 7:11 left in the first half. The Penguins trailed 17-15 when Cash made two free throws with 23 seconds left in the opening period, and Kelsea Newman hit a deep 3-pointer at the horn to give the Penguins a 20-17 lead.

Cash scored on YSU’s first two possessions of the second period, including hitting a 3-pointer on the second, and Alison Smolinski’s free throw put the Penguins up 26-17. A Benjamin basket kept the margin at nine, 28-19, at the 5:31 mark, but Green Bay scored the next eight points and eventually took the lead with 44 seconds left at 35-33. Newman split a pair of free throws with 25 seconds remaining for the final point of the half.

YSU was 7-of-16 from 3-point range in the first half, and it finished the game 11-for-33 from distance. Green Bay countered by making 10-of-30 from beyond the arc.

Green Bay’s 8-0 run to start the third period put the Phoenix up 43-34, and the visitors ended up outscoring the Penguins 19-7 in the period. Terry made three 3s in a two-minute stretch that put the Phoenix up 52-38 with 1:59 left in the period. Jenna Hirsch hit a 3 on YSU’s next possession, its only one in eight attempts in the period to cut the margin to 11, but Kaili Lukan scored on an inbounds play at the buzzer to make the margin 54-41.

YSU was able to get the lead down to seven at 60-53 when Smolinski hit a 3 in transition with 4:21 on the clock. Green Bay scored the next five points to put the margin back to a dozen, but Arbanas answered with five straight to make the score 65-58 with 1:47 remaining. A basket by Benjamin with 32 seconds remaining made it 66-60 with 32 seconds left, and that’s as close as the Penguins would get.

Youngstown State will play at Cleveland State on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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