Youngstown State Withstands Comeback, Beats Milwaukee
By Seth J. Walker
Detroit- The fifth seeded Youngstown State Penguins beat the fourth seed Milwaukee Panthers in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Tournament. This proved to be the most riveting game of the women’s tournament so far as the Panthers stormed back in the fourth quarter, after being down by as many as 17, but managed to take the lead twice, before the Penguins tied it back up at 53 apiece with 2:50 left in the game.
Then freshman guard Chelsea Olson hit three which gave the Penguins back the lead, a lead they wouldn’t relinquished.
Senior guard Indiya Benjamin, an All-Horizon League Second Team Selection, followed that up with a three of her own, to continue rebuilding momentum for the Penguins.
“For them to come back the way they did, it shows a lot courage and guts on their part, and then for us to make some big shots to win it, I think says the same,” Penguins head coach John Barnes said.
The Panthers trailed by 17 before making a 20-0 run which started at the end of the third quarter. Senior guard Kelsey Cunningham emerged as a major catalyst for the comeback, scoring all 12 of her points in the fourth quarter. Senior forward, Steph Kostowicz an All-Horizon League Second Team selection, also helped spark the run on both ends, getting two of her three blocks during the comeback. Though she only scored seven points, she hit a three at the 4:03 mark to tie the game at 48-48, as the whole team was now flowing with energy before sophomore guard Jamie Reit’s three gave the Panthers their first lead since early in the first quarter.
“It was really important (to have energy),” senior guard Jenny Lindner said. “We had to be excited for each other. We knew that we could do it. Like our coach always said, we’ve been labeled the comeback team throughout the season. We knew it was possible. We dont give up or anything. We knew that every basket was a chip into their lead and that’s what we needed to do; and we came back. We did make that comeback. We just didn’t finish it.”
Linder, another All-Horizon League Second Team selection, finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Penguins junior forward Sarah Cash led all scorers with 24 points, 22 of which came in the first three quarters and added nine rebounds. Cash’s ability to dominate the post enabled the Penguins to establish the big lead they had before the Panthers’ comeback.
“I have no doubt that Sarah can score on anybody in this conference,” Benjamin said. “No matter who we play, we’re going to go to work and do big things for us.”
The Penguins advance to the semifinals where they will play top seed Green Bay, which beat Northern Kentucky in the quarterfinals. The game will be on Monday afternoon at 1pm at Little Caesar’s Arena as Motor City Madness continues.