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Early Pressure Helps Lady Lions Stifle Manhattan

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By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a long day to be a Manhattan guard, as Penn State women's basketball's relentless pressure helped lead the Lady Lions to a 78-46 victory at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The Jaspers had their hands full from the start, as Penn State came out in a full-court press for a significant portion of the first half and disrupted Manhattan from initiating any sort of offensive flow. Manhattan had 21 turnovers on the day, leading to 18 easy fast-break points for the Lady Lions. 

"It's good that we can be aggressive at the beginning. We like to be disruptive and not let our opponent settle into an offensive rhythm and offensive confidence," head coach Coquese Washington said. "It was good that early on we got some deflections, which made them a little more concerned about breaking the press as oppose to running their offense. That helped us get out to an early lead." 

Penn State's suffocating defense held the Manhattan starters to only four points in the first quarter, and the Lady Lions enjoyed a 26-11 lead after one period. 

Sophomore guard Amari Carter was a huge factor in the press, as her active hands grabbed four steals.

"That's always the plan. Get out, get fast, get some deflections and steals. We played some great defense all day and got ahead of the pack," Carter said.

The defensive intensity was one of the main reasons Penn State was able to take a 16-point lead into halftime, despite having a stretch of 5:21 without scoring a point to end the first half.

 Washington attributed the success to consistency, as the team is starting to feel increasingly cohesive in the ninth contest of the year.

"I think we're starting to develop an understanding and a rhythm," Washington said. "You need that sixth sense when you're out on the court like you know where everyone is going to be. Every game, we get a bit more comfortable in our rotations on defense."

The Lady Lions put forth a very balanced scoring effort as well, as five different players reached double figures on the afternoon. Carter led the way with 16, including connecting on both of her attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite not making her usual dent in the stat sheet quite yet, junior guard Teniya Page totaled seven points in 25 minutes of action. Now in her fourth game back healthy and second game starting, Page has been consistently building up her minutes back to where they were a year ago. 

Her impact can undoubtedly be seen on the court, especially with some of the younger players who have been looking for a leader to emerge.

"We're getting a lot more comfortable in our rotation. We have a lot of young players, and they need the experience of practice and games. There's a certain rhythm that you get into in games and they just need that experience," Washington said.

The Lady Lions excelled at the charity stripe as well, knocking down 22 of their 25 free throw attempts. Free throw percentage will be huge once conference play comes around, so the coaching staff has made it a point of emphasis early in the year. 

"We've made them shoot a lot of free throws because it's important to take advantage of a lot of those opportunities when we get them. When people are getting to the line, focusing and knocking them down, it's certainly helpful," Washington said. 

The Lady Lions look to continue their hot start on Wednesday against Fordham. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. from the Bryce Jordan Center.

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