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WNIT First Round Preview: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Youngstown State Penguins

The Bearcats face off Thursday with a dangerous Penguins team.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Cincinnati at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bearcats women’s basketball team will play host to the Youngstown State Penguins in the first round of the WNIT on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Youngstown State posted a 22-9 mark in 2018-2019 and an impressive 13-5 mark in the Horizon League, finishing third behind regular season and tournament champion Wright State as well as Wisconsin-Green Bay.

The Penguins are led by senior guard Alison Smolinski, who is the nation’s seventh most proficient three-point shooter. Smolinski’s superior outside shooting is buoyed further by YSU’s steady low-post play. Junior forward Mary Dunn and senior forward Sarah Cash are both 6-foot-plus and apt to get a double-double on any evening.

One clear advantage that Cincinnati holds over Youngstown State is in depth. The Bearcats’ bench often goes 10-deep and Cincinnati has one of the most versatile attacks in college basketball. Cincinnati also appears to be a significantly more athletic team.

Conversely, Youngstown State plays just seven in its regular rotation. Cincinnati should be able to wear down this strong YSU club but needs to guard the perimeter effectively. YSU will almost certainly use Dunn and Cash to double-team Cincinnati’s sophomore low-post force, Ilmar’i Thomas.

Check back with Down the Drive for full coverage of this contest and the Bearcats’ run in the WNIT.