YOUNGSTOWN — For as great a season as it has been, Youngstown State just couldn’t find a way to snuff out a win when they needed it most.
Youngstown State’s women’s basketball season ended Wednesday as it lost 68-59 to Kent State in the WNIT first round, ending a campaign where YSU secured its first season conference title regular in 23 years.
It’s the end of the road for 5th year senior Chelsea Olson; however, an ankle injury after a clumsy fall marked a complete change of momentum after the Penguins led up to 10 in the second quarter.
Coach John Barnes felt the desperation of Olson, who has been a cornerstone of the Penguins roster during his career.
“I’m in love with (Olson), for the team, it’s a 5th year senior who decided to come back, she was waiting for this moment” Barnes said. “She had 11 points in 13 minutes, you had an eight to ten point lead and it’s just hard to adapt. She does so much. You need a month of training to adapt to not being there. ‘to have.
The Penguins finished their season with a 24-7 record, the most wins in 24 seasons, while securing their first spot in the WNIT since a loss at Cincinnati in 2019.
Olson ended his time at YSU with 1,461 points, 848 rebounds and 516 assists.
YSU took a 16-15 second quarter lead after Paige Shy scored a three late in the first quarter on a turnover for the first score by a penguin not named Lily Ritz or Olson since the second quarter of the Horizon League quarter-finals against Oakland.
YSU would eventually lead Kent State 10-29-19 at 7:11 after a trey down the left side by Malia Magestro. But, later in the quarter, Olson got tangled on a rebound attempt and went down in pain as play continued down the field.
Needing help getting off, Olson would eventually come out of halftime with a boot.
It would mark the end of the four-time All-Horizon selection and a slip for the Penguins, who put Kent State on a 27-6 run,
The Penguins went more than 10 minutes without a basket. A Magestro layup with 1:03 left in the third broke the field’s dry spell.
Magestro led the Penguins with 16 points and is looking to be a leader heading into next winter.
“I think we all knew we had to come together” Magestro said about the second half. “We’re so good at helping each other out and being there for each other, so I think we all led really well to try to hold on.
“(Kent) was driving and you had to help and then they would get open shots, we just need to do a better job of containing them, not let them drive to the hoop and get open shots, but they shot the lights out .
The Golden Flashes (19-11) shot an electrifying 48.1 percent from the field 25-52 from the field, taking advantage of the Penguins being a key defender. Kent State also won the rebound battle 35-21.
YSU cut the deficit to five after Mady Aulbach buried a pair of free throws to end the third quarter. Kent State continued to build their lead as they used multiple all-court passes to break YSU’s press.
Lindsey Thall led Kent with 15 points and Lakeview alum Annie Pavlansky saw four minutes on the floor in front of a large Golden Flash delegation that nearly completed a section in the lower bowl at the Beeghly Center.
Lily Ritz added 14 points for YSU on 6-of-16 shooting, with Lindsey Mack and Paige Shy each scoring six. After the match, Barnes noted that Olson’s injury would more than likely have sidelined her even if they had won.
Sometimes luck is on your side, sometimes it’s just not your day – or in YSU’s case, it’s not their last weeks after avoiding the injury bug for most of the year. , while battling strep throat that forced her to miss practices leading up to WNIT.
It was not a season to forget, but the same formation will never return to the field again.
“Our luck was really good all season and then we lost Malia for the Oakland game to our best three-point shooter, second-best perimeter defenseman,” Barnes said. “Chelsea in this game also felt like it wasn’t meant to be, it’s like the regular season is what we were meant to be.”
“Proud of their efforts and all that, but our luck kind of ran out here.”