YOUNGSTOWN - Last season, Bowling Green came up with an 86-40 victory over the Youngstown State University women's basketball team.
Heading into today's game featuring the two at Beeghly Center, starting at 5:15 p.m., the Penguins (4-3) are ready for the often-ranked Falcons (4-2) that has dominated the Mid-American Conference in recent memory.
"It's going to be a challenging game," said Kelsea Fickiesen, who came off the YSU bench for 12 points in a Nov. 30 victory over Western Michigan, 80-55. "It's going to be fun to see where we stand. Hopefully we come out and we're ready. (YSU) coach (Bob Boldon) has preached to us they like to play harder and smarter than teams. Hopefully that will change and we'll be the smarter team and we'll be the team that plays harder for 40 minutes."
YSU is the second straight Horizon League opponent for the Falcons, who have won four straight.
Chrissy Steffen is the only returning starter from last year's Bowling Green team, which has a plenty of underclassmen. Steffen leads the team with 16.2 points per game. Canfield native Jillian Halfhill is the second leading scorer with 8.8 per outing. Each have a team-best 12 assists.
YSU is led by Brandi Brown, who has 16.6 per game, and Heidi Schlegel, who adds 11.7 per outing.
"Hopefully we've matured and we've got a little bit better," Boldon said. "They're playing some young kids right now. As you watch them from the first game to their last game against Butler, you can see them getting progressively better. They're obviously going through some growing pains with a lot of new kids and they have a starter back.
"Every year is different and it's different for both of us. We have some starters and we felt we had some more things in earlier in the year than we could last year. They're going through something different, getting kids in. We're both trying to figure out who to get out on the floor for how long and what circumstances. It's an interesting matchup tomorrow."
Fickiesen said YSU will be prepared for BG's offensive prowess.
"Coach told us they like to set a lot of ball screens," Fickiesen said. "Hopefully, we defend all the ball screens right and play good defense will be the heart of the game."
Will YSU be able to withstand the Falcons, who have only lost at Dayton and home to Purdue this season.
"There's a time where they might go on a run, but we can't focus on that - keep digging ourselves deeper," Fickiesen said. "We just have to look forward to the next possession and making it the best it can be, instead of focusing on the negative."
So far, the Penguins haven't been too many negative things.
"A sign of getting better is eliminating mistakes - both offensively and defensively," Boldon said. "We're going to be challenged, obviously. Tomorrow is going to be a good test for us to see where we're at and how we do against a very good, mid-major-type team.
"It's something we're looking forward to."
Fickiesen said her team is looking forward to posing a challenge to Bowling Green today.
"You don't want to be the underdog, but sometimes it's fun to be the underdog and come out on top," she said. "That's what we want to do. They're probably thinking we're going to be a light game.
"Hopefully, we can change that."