Penguins to Tussle with Green Bay in Motor City Madness Semifinals on Monday

YSU Women's Basketball (Photo by Rob Hayes)
YSU Women's Basketball (Photo by Rob Hayes)

Scouting Report

  • Youngstown State hopes that its best Horizon League regular season will carry it to its first championship game appearance as it plays Green Bay in the semifinals of Motor City Madness on Monday. Tipoff at Little Caesars Arena is set for 3:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO, iHeartRadio, ESPN+ and WatchESPN.
  • The third-seeded Penguins are in the semifinals of the Horizon League Women's Basketball Championship for the fifth time in the last seven years. They are 0-4 in their previous four attempts to get to the title game, including a 66-45 loss to Green Bay at Little Caesars Arena last season.
  • YSU had its narrowest margin of victory of the season on Wednesday with a 64-58 win over Milwaukee in the tournament quarterfinals at Beeghly Center. The Penguins trailed 47-42 with 8:30 left in the fourth quarter but outscored the Panthers 22-11 to close out their school-record 16th home win.
  • YSU is 22-8 overall, and it was 13-5 against the league in the regular season. The 13 wins were the most in YSU's 18 years in the conference. Youngstown State swept the bottom four teams and split against the other teams in the top six.
  • The Penguins split the regular-season series with Green Bay with both teams winning on their home floor. Green Bay won 60-42 at the Kress Center on Jan. 12, and YSU snapped an 11-game losing skid to the Phoenix with a 70-59 win in Youngstown on Feb. 15.
  • YSU has won at least 20 games for the fourth time in the last seven years, and it is likely headed to a postseason tournament for the fifth time in the last seven campaigns. The Penguins won at least 21 regular-season games for just the fifth time in program history.
  • A conference-high three Penguins were named to the Horizon League first and second teams. Junior Mary Dunn was a first-team selection and was also voted the Horizon League Sixth Player of the Year. Fifth-year senior and fellow post Sarah Cash and sophomore guard Chelsea Olson earned second-team nods.
  • Alison Smolinski has set YSU records for most 3s in a game (9), season (98) and career (251) in 2018-19. In the quarterfinals victory over Milwaukee, she broke the Horizon League single-season record.
  • Four different Penguins were named the Horizon League Player of the Week this season — Cash, Dunn (twice), Olson and Smolinski (twice). YSU players won the award six times, which was three more than any other school.
  • The Penguins have a balanced offensive attack with Dunn, Cash and Smolinski rank fifth through seventh in the Horizon League in scoring. That trio and Olson all average between 10.3 points and 13.1 points per game.
  • YSU leads the Horizon League in field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio and 3-pointers per game. The Penguins rank second in scoring offense, scoring margin and 3-point field-goal percentage.

Motor City Madness

Previewing Green Bay

A Win Would...

  • Improve YSU's record to 23-8 overall.
  • Give YSU 23 wins for the sixth time in program history.
  • Send YSU to the Horizon League Basketball Championship Game for the first time.
  • Send YSU to a conference tournament title contest for the first time since 1999-00.
  • Be YSU's second straight over Green Bay.
  • Be the 616th in school history and the 105th under Head Coach John Barnes.

Previewing The Phoenix

  • Second-seeded Green Bay (21-8, 13-3) is in the semifinals of Motor City Madness following a 73-30 victory over Cleveland State in the quarterfinals. They will be hungry to win the tournament after their 20-year streak of regular-season titles was stopped.
  • The Phoenix have one of the top defenses in the country. Green Bay ranks fifth in Division I in scoring defense, and it is also seventh in field-goal percentage defense and ninth in 3-point field-goal percentage defense. Offensively, Green Bay leads the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage and ranks second behind YSU in field-goal percentage.
  • Jen Wellnitz is the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team all-conference pick. Laken James was a second-team selection, and Frankie Wurtz leads the team with 10.6 points per game and 38 3s.

Series History

  • Overall: Green Bay leads 40-4
  • Barnes: 3-11 // Home: 2-18 // Away: 2-21 // Neutral: 0-1 // HL Tournament: 0-3
  • Current Win Streak: 1 by Youngstown State
  • Three of the Penguins' four victories in the series have come in the six years under head coach John Barnes. Barnes is 3-11 against the Phoenix, and YSU's other four head coaches who played Green Bay went a combined 1-29.

Last Year in Motor City Madness

  • YSU went toe-to-toe with #21/21 Green Bay for 20 minutes, but the Phoenix came out with a second-half spark to win 66-45 in the semifinals of Motor City Madness.
  • YSU led the top-seeded Phoenix by nine, 13-4, in the first period and 28-26 at halftime. Green Bay scored the first eight points of the third period and went on to outscore the Guins 40-17 in the second half.
  • YSU actually led for more than half the game. The Penguins held the upper hand for 20:29 while Green Bay was ahead for 16:40.
  • Sarah Cash led the Penguins with 12 points, and she reached 1,000 for her career.

Wisconsin Ties at YSU

  • YSU head coach John Barnes was Green Bay's associate head coach under Kevin Borseth during the 2012-13 season. He also coached with Borseth at Michigan in 2011-12. Both are former head coaches at Division II Michigan Tech.
  • Youngstown State Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Andy Crane is a native of Baraboo, Wis., and Director of Operations Nicole Griffin was the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2010 out of Vincent High School in Milwaukee.
  • Current Penguins Chelsea Olson (Westby) and Taylor Petit (Schofield) are both Wisconsin natives, and YSU has three more Wisconsinites coming in next year in Maddie Schires (Wausau), Lexi Wagner (Galesville) and Jen Wendler (Owen).

YSU vs. Green Bay: Jan. 12 • Kress Center • L, 42-60

  • Youngstown State was out of sorts offensively all afternoon and lost 60-42 to Green Bay on Jan. 12 at the Kress Center.
  • YSU went without a field goal for more than nine minutes in the first half, and Green Bay went on a 16-1 run during that stretch to take an insurmountable 23-6 lead. The margin was at least a dozen the rest of the game.
  • Alison Smolinski posted her first career double-double with 10 points and a career-best 11 rebounds, and Chelsea Olson had nine points.
  • It was the only game this season where at least two Penguins weren't in double figures.
  • Olson was 3-for-8 from 3-point range, but the other eight Penguins who played were a combined 2-for-22. YSU was 5-for-30 in the game.
  • YSU committed 16 turnovers, six of which came in the opening quarter. Green Bay had 13 steals and scored 25 points off turnovers. Both of those were season highs for an opponent.
  • The Penguins had a season-low seven assists against their 16 turnovers.
  • Laken James and Jen Wellnitz scored 17 points apiece to lead Green Bay, and they also combined for 10 13 steals. Phoenix head coach Kevin Borseth registered his 700th career victory.
  • YSU had its first loss this season when holding a rebounding edge.
  • Sarah Cash was whistled for two fouls in the first four minutes and finished with six points in 15 minutes.

YSU vs. Green Bay: Feb. 15 • Beeghly Center • W, 70-59

  • YSU scored the final 12 points of the third period and led by double digits for the entire fourth in a 70-59 victory over Green Bay on Feb. 15 at Beeghly Center.
  • The Penguins extended their home winning streak to 11 while also snapping an 11-game losing skid to Green Bay.
  • Sophomore Chelsea Olson filled the stat sheet with 19 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and six assists, and fifth-year senior Sarah Cash also had 19 points and eight rebounds in her first career win over the Phoenix.
  • Olson made a career-best five 3s, including two on consecutive possessions to spark YSU's 12-0 run to end the third quarter. YSU made 11 3s as a team.
  • Carly Mohns made seven 3s for Green Bay to tie the arena record for 3s by an opposing player.
  • Green Bay scored the first 10 points of the contest, and YSU's first points didn't come until a three-point play by Cash at the 6:09 mark. The Penguins outscored the Phoenix 70-49 after that 10-0 start.
  • Green Bay led 17-9, but YSU scored the next 10 points to take its first lead on a Mary Dunn 3-pointer 57 seconds into the second period. After a Cash bucket in the final seconds of the first half tied the score at 32, YSU did not trail again.
  • The 70 points scored by the Penguins were the second-most by a Horizon League opponent against Green Bay this season.
  • The third quarter was a problematic in the matchup last year as Green Bay outscored YSU 60-13 in three meetings. The Penguins held a 22-10 edge and took control of the game in the third quarter this time.
  • Green Bay played without Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Jen Wellnitz.

On This Day

  • YSU is 1-1 all-time in games played on March 11, and both contests were in the Horizon League tournament.
  • YSU beat Detroit Mercy 73-55 in the quarterfinals in 2015 behind 22 points apiece from Heidi Schlegel and Nikki Arbanas. Arbanas had five 3s in the win.

Recapping Milwaukee

  • Youngstown State outscored Milwaukee 22-11 over the final 8:30 to win 64-58 in the quarterfinals of Motor City Madness on Wednesday at Beeghly Center.
  • YSU trailed 47-42 with 8:30 remaining on the game clock and two seconds left on the shot clock. McKenah Peters scored on a baseline out-of-bounds play and followed with a free throw to spark an 8-0 run, and YSU led for the final 7:26.
  • YSU led 60-57 with 25 seconds left, Chelsea Olson blocked Lizzie Odegard's tying 3-point attempt. Melinda Trimmer made four free throws for the final outcome.
  • The Penguins were down 28-27 at halftime, and they were 1-7 previously when trailing at the break. YSU was also behind 43-42 heading into the fourth.
  • Alison Smolinski broke the Horizon League record for 3-pointers in a season with 98. The record-breaker came at the first-quarter buzzer.
  • Sarah Cash scored 15 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds. She also posted her 100th career block and surpassed 1,400 career points.
  • Olson matched Cash with 15 points, seven of which came on free throws. Olson made her 100th career free throw in the game, and she added three blocks.
  • Trimmer scored nine of her 11 points in the second half to reach double figures for the seventh straight game.
  • There were 12 ties and 12 lead changes in the game, which were both highs for YSU this season. The Penguins led by at least 12 in each home game during the regular season, but the largest lead for either squad was six.
  • UWM's defense held the Penguins to 30.7 percent shooting for the first 31 minutes before YSU made 6-of-11 to close out the game.
  • YSU got just three assists from its guards. Cash and Mary Dunn led the team with three assists apiece, with many of those coming out of double teams
  • Milwaukee didn't make its first 3 until the 1:57 mark of the fourth period.

Up Next

  • If Youngstown State prevails against Green Bay, it will play either No. 1 Wright State or No. 4 IUPUI in the Motor City Madness Championship Game on Tuesday at noon. The game would be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO, iHeartRadio and ESPNU.