Penguins' seniors get big send off
YSU defeated Detroit in its regular season home finale, 71-68.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sometimes in women's basketball a good cry just before game time is just what the doctor ordered.
Youngstown State women held their Senior Night recognition just before tip-off against Detroit Thursday night and after an emotional send off the Penguins defeated the Titans 71-68 before 1,433 fans at Beeghly Center.
Seniors Jen Perugini, Barb Fabianova and Cathy Hanek led the attack as the Penguins improved to 11-15 overall and 5-10 in the Horizon League.
"I just needed about two minutes after the ceremony to compose myself and get focused on the game ahead," said Perugini, who finished the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season and 31st in her four years at YSU.
Fabianova finished with 15 points, including five 3-point goals, while Hanek added 11 points along with junior Michelle Holmes.
Had to battle at the end
Even with those performances the Penguins had to battle the Titans at the end to preserve the victory, mainly because of the 3-point shooting by Detroit's Lindsey Pasquinzo.
Pasquinzo connected on 5-of-6 3-point shots in the final two minutes to keep the Titans in the contest. She finished as the game's top scorer with 25 points as the Titans fell to 8-18, 5-11.
The Penguins were ahead by seven points, 66-59, with just under a minute to play when YSU coach Tisha Hill took out all her seniors and put in the reserves.
With 19.9 seconds remaining, after Pasquinzo hit her fourth 3-point goal, the Titans were within two points (67-65), but some clutch free throw shooting by sophomore Kristy Gaudiose and freshman Lauren Branson put the Penguins back in control and even Pasquinzo's final desperation 3-pointer wasn't enough for the Titans.
Had faith in reserves
When asked if maybe she substituted a little early at the end, Hill responded, "I work with these girls every day and I know what my second team is capable of doing, but when my seniors started yelling at me to put them back in at the end I didn't argue one bit," Hill said.
"I wanted my seniors to exit before the fans, they deserved that, but when they said 'Put me back in' I did," she said.
"I hope we're playing at our best right now," she added. "This is the time we need to be. They are focused and they understand just what we need to do out there."
The Penguins will wrap up the regular season Saturday afternoon at UW-Milwaukee, which is in second place in the Horizon League. A YSU win would lock up a sixth place seed for the Penguins in the Horizon Tournament which begins next week.
YSU never trailed
The Penguins never trailed in the contest and were really never in trouble until the final minute.
YSU jumped out to a 15-8 advantage and then, behind back-to-back 3-point shots by Fabianova and another from sophomore Ashlee Russo, increased the lead to 25-12 with 6:14 remaining.
Detroit made a brief 8-0 run at the end of the half to close the gap to eight points (32-24).
Fabianova hit two more 3-pointers to open the second half and after two buckets by Perugini the Penguins were back in control, 45-29.
Titans kept close
The Titans kept pecking away at the lead and got to within six points, 48-42, with 8:11 remaining, but six straight points by Perugini, including four at the foul line, put the Penguins back to an 11-point lead, 60-49, with 4:38 to play setting up the final two frantic minutes.
Seniors Tara Fleming and Melissa Tarrant also played their final regular season home game for the Penguins.