CINCINNATI — Jill Stephens (Mineral Wells, W.Va./Parkersburg South) scored a career and game-high 27 points and notched her fourth double-double of the season with 14 rebounds to lead the University of Cincinnati (7-2) to a 79-56 win over Youngstown State University (4-5) at Fifth Third Arena on Saturday afternoon. The win was UC's sixth straight victory at Fifth Third Arena.
The Bearcats outrebounded the Penguins, 44-27, for the game and UC shot 83.3 percent (15-18) from the free throw line, holding YSU to only nine attempts at the charity stripe. Cincinnati also handed out 21 assists as a team, the most UC has collected in a game since the final game of the 2006-07 season against Pittsburgh (21 on March 3, 2007). The Bearcats landed 10 three pointers as a team and complimented that effort with 28 points in the paint to YSU's 16.
"I'm real pleased with the way the team played," said UC head coach J. Kelley Hall. "We want to be known for our defensive and rebounding efforts and got away from that the last few games. We went back to the basics in practice and I thought our rebounding was outstanding today. We did a good job of getting to the free throw line but what I am most proud of is only allowing Youngstown State nine free throws for the game."
Youngstown State hit three three-pointers to start the game as Cincinnati struggled to find its rhythm. The Penguins took a 5-point lead with 11:33 to play, 16-11, before the Bearcats got hot at the 6:36 mark of the first half. UC went on a 16-0 run to take a 36-19 lead with 1:03 remaining. UC outscored YSU, 25-5, over the final 11 minutes of the half and took a 36-21 lead into the lockerroom, led by Natasha Graboski's (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) 11 points. Kahla Roudebush (Noblesville, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) pulled down seven rebounds in the first half and Stephens tossed in 10 points in the first stanza.
In the second half the Bearcats jumped out to a 59-36 lead on a layup by Stephens with 9:22 to play. UC went up 23 when Graboski floated a pass to Stephens for another layup, giving UC a 63-40 lead with 7:51 to go. Stephens landed her fifth three pointer of the game at the 5:49 mark — her career high in treys — to give UC a 66-44 lead. The Bearcats cruised the rest of the way, finishing with a 79-56 victory.
Graboski finished the game matching her career-high with 14 points and Roudebush recorded a career-high six assists. Carla Jacobs (Cleveland, Ohio/Regina) added 10 points for UC. Stephens finished the game with a career-high in points (27), field goals (11), field goal attempts (19), three point field goals (5), and assists (4).
Youngstown State was led in scoring by Heather Karner, who finished with 15 points. Kelsey Gurganus added 14 points and Tiara Scott chipped in 12 for the Penguins.
Cincinnati remains at home for the next two games, taking on Central Michigan at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 17, at Fifth Third Arena.