Hornberger, YSU women break three-game skid

YOUNGSTOWN – For Liz Hornberger, it’s about simple motivation.

She’d rather play than ride the bench and keep Youngstown State University coach John Barnes and his staff company during games.

“Coach Barnes has been yelling at me all week about not shooting the ball,” said Hornberger, a YSU senior guard. “Every other thing he yells at me for is not shooting the ball. I had to shoot it or I was going to be taken out. I like to stay in the game.”

She scored a career-high 20 points to lead the Penguins past Valparaiso Saturday at the Beeghly Center, 84-56.

“That’s her career high? Wow! Good for her,” Barnes said before addressing the media at his post-game news conference.

YSU (11-12, 7-3) recently broke a three-game losing streak – all road games against Cleveland State (13-11, 8-3), Wright State (18-7, 7-3) and Oakland. Green Bay, the long-standing Horizon League regular-season champion, is back on top with a 15-7, 8-2 mark.

“Three losses has been like the end of the world to some people on our team,” Hornberger said. “I don’t know why. Coach Barnes put it in perspective (Friday) in practice. We’re a (game) out of first place, even with those losses. The league is up for grabs. People have losses here and there. We can’t let that effect how we play.

“I think being at home today really helped.”

Karen Flagg and Boardman native Monica Touvelle each had 14 points, while Heidi Schlegel had 12. Schlegel set the all-time mark for made free throws in a season, breaking Brianne Kenneally’s mark set more than a decade ago of 140. Schlegel, who was four of four from the line, has 144 points at the charity stripe.

However, it was somebody like Hornberger who helped push YSU to the win over Valparaiso (3-21, 1-10).

“She’s definitely the leader on the floor and the most vocal,” Barnes said. “She’s sharp out there. She knows what we’re trying to do. She’s always working to get players in position to run the offense and things like that.

“Jenna (Hirsch is) our point guard, but she’s quiet and a freshman. So, she’s looking for Liz’s lead, too.”

Hornberger insists she’s not willing to take over Barnes’ duty any time soon. She’s just about doing her job on the court.

“I think a lot of people are sick of hearing my voice though because I’ve been around them for how many years,” she said. “I try to tell other people, ‘You have to say something.’ What I say goes in and out people’s ears because I don’t stop talking.

“I try to say what I need to, but coach Barnes’ system is new to me too. I just try to keep everybody motivated.”

Charae Richardson led Valparaiso with 19 points, while Sharon Karungi added 12.

Friday, YSU plays at Milwaukee (8 p.m.) and is at Green Bay next Sunday (2 p.m.).