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Balanced Offensive Attack Leads Lady Lions To Victory

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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite playing for the first time in seven days, the Lady Lions had no problems shaking off the holiday rust against Hartford on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Thanks to a well-balanced offensive attack, Penn State stormed past the Hawks, 70-56, to close out its non-conference schedule.

Edwards-Ariel (3).jpegAlthough the Lady Lions were held without a three-pointer (0-for-8) for the first time since November 30, 2011 - a span of 73 games - Coquese Washington received offensive contributions from 10 of her players, five of whom tallied six or more points.

"We're getting great contributions from our bench," said senior guard Maggie Lucas. "I think our starting five is continuing to gel every game. [Dara Taylor] played well and Ariel [Edwards] played well. We're getting a lot of contributions from a lot of people."

The challenging non-conference slate has provided several opportunities of growth for Washington's young squad. From where this Penn State team began, to where they are now, it is clear to Washington that her team is starting to mesh into a dangerous unit.

However, she still feels that this team is smart enough, and talented enough, to continue to make strides on the hardwood.

"I thought we could've had more points if we converted more second chance shots," said Washington. "I thought we got a lot of shots around the basket that didn't fall. We missed quite a few layups and shots in the paint. I think if we made those, we could've had 10 or 12 more points."

Led by seniors Maggie Lucas and Ariel Edwards, who together combined for 33 points, the Lady Lions shot a favorable 28-for-65 from the field (43.1 percent).

While Edwards notched 13 of her 15 points in the first half on 5-of-7 shooting, Lucas was the go-to scorer in the second half, chalking up 10 of her 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

"I feel like that's kind of what our team does," said senior forward Ariel Edwards. "Anyone on our team has the ability to score points. I think it just happened in that first half that I was able to get some points and then Maggie took over in the second half."

With the win the Lady Lions notched their fourth consecutive season with at least nine non-conference victories, extending the Blue and White's season record to 9-3.

Moving forward, Washington and her Lady Lions have their minds set on the start of the Big Ten regular season.

"The thing about Big Ten play is there are a lot of different styles that we're going to see," said Washington. "Some play faster, some play slower. Some are more defensive minded. For us, it's going to be a matter of focus and discipline to execute the game plan that we need to do on a nightly basis."

Penn State opens Big Ten play with a tough road test against Iowa on Sunday, January 5. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. in Iowa City.

"We're very excited for Big Ten play," said Edwards. "It's something to look forward to. It's our [the seniors] last go around. We're excited to get into that part of our season."

 

--LADY LIONS--

What To Watch: Penn State hosts Hartford

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team will close out their non-conference schedule on Sunday, Dec. 29 with a 2 p.m. contest vs. Hartford. The Lady Lions (8-3) enter the weekend ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll and No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and will host the Hawks (3-9).

GAME NOTES: vs. Hartford

This will be the second meeting in program history, with Penn State claiming a 71-65 victory at the Caribbean Challenge in 2010. The Lady Lions hit 10 three-pointers in the contest. Maggie Lucas and Ariel Edwards both had solid games, with the then-freshmen duo netting 27 and 13 points, respectively.



Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Closing Non-Conference Play: Penn State will close out their non-conference schedule on the hardwood with today's contest vs. Hartford. The Lady Lions own a record of 25-2 over the past four seasons in non-conference home games. They are 5-2 in game played at the Bryce Jordan Center this season, with their two losses coming against No. 1 UConn and No. 5 Notre Dame.

Tori on the Block: We talked about junior Tori Waldner last prior to last weekend's contest vs. Alcorn State, but the junior turned in another solid effort against the Lady Braves. Waldner recorded her second straight game with double-digit rebounds - pulling down 10 boards vs. Alcorn State - and swatted four more shots to bring her season total to 20 blocks. She now has at least one block in 10 straight games.

Taylor Made: Senior guard Dara Taylor has been a big part of the Lady Lions early season success and an 8-3 record. The speedy point guard has topped her career-high in points twice this season, including a 20-point effort vs. Alcorn State last weekend, and has eight games with four-plus assists and seven games with three-or-more steals to help ignite Penn State's fast pace offense.

What To Watch For - Hartford

No Place Like the Road: Hartford has claimed all three of their victories on the road this season, while owning a 0-3 mark at home. The Hawks are 3-4 away from their on-campus arena, with wins over Loyola (Md.), Maine and Sacred Heart. There two highest scoring games - and only two 60-plus point games - have come on the road.

Freshmen Leading the Way: Like Penn State, Hartford is getting major contributions from their freshmen class. Rookies Deanna Mayza, Morgan Lumb and Alyssa Reaves have all led the team in scoring in at least one game. To date, the Hawks freshmen class has combined for over 40 percent of the Hawks points with Mayza (t-1st), Lumb (4th) and Reaves (5th) among the top-five leading scorers.

Thievery and Threes: Junior guard Amber Bepko is among the career leaders at Hartford in steals and three pointers made in her career. The junior needs 28 steals to crack the top-10 in all-time career steals and is among the top-10 in school history in three pointers made. She currently has 81 three point baskets which places her ninth all-time and 63 of her 98 field goal attempts have been from beyond the arch in 2013-14.


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--LADY LIONS--

Taylor Leads Lady Lions Past Alcorn State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior point guard Dara Taylor had a feeling it was going to be a good afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center when her first two jump shot attempts went down on Sunday.

9562373.jpegThe Wilmington, Del., native knocked down the game's first two baskets, and Taylor did not look back from there.  She reached 20 points for the first time in her career on a red-hot 9-for-12 from the field.  Taylor also had seven steals and four assists in Penn State's 85-62 victory over Alcorn State.

"It doesn't feel any different than any other game. We were just focused on getting the win today," Taylor said.  "My shot felt good and I found some easy shots in transition...After my first two shots went in, I knew I was going to shoot the ball pretty decently today."

Head coach Coquese Washington liked Taylor's approach on the offense end of the floor.

"I thought she was very aggressive offensively and we like our players to be aggressive offensively," Washington said.  "I thought she kind of came out and set the tone for us being aggressive on the offensive end."

With the Big Ten season just around the corner, Washington said that Sunday's victory provided a great opportunity to get several younger players significant minutes.  In all, 10 different Lions played 11 or more minutes in Sunday's game.

"Well, we did get to play a lot of our young kids, get them some experience that they sorely needed," Washington said.  "They sorely needed to be out there and play and get a sense of what it feels like on game day.  I think that contributed to the ebbs and flows of the game...The experience our young kids got is going to be valuable."

The Lady Lions head into the holiday week with an 8-3 mark.  Washington said she is pleased with the progress the Lions have made, but understands there is a lot of room for improvement.  Nonetheless, optimism is high as the Big Ten season looms.

"Moving forward, I think there are a lot of things we can get better at," said Washington.  "We're making steps but we have a lot of steps yet to make and we have to develop a level of consistency, a level of individual consistency and team consistency that has to improve as we move into conference play."

Penn State will get three days off around the Christmas holiday before getting back to work on Thursday in preparation for the final non-conference game of the season against Hartford on Dec. 29.  Big Ten play begins on Jan. 5 at Iowa.

What To Watch: Penn State hosts Alcorn State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team continues their homestand on Sunday, Dec. 22 with an 11 a.m. contest vs. Alcorn State. The Lady Lions (7-3) enter the weekend ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll and No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and will host the Lady Braves (1-8), who enter the contest after a 63-50 loss at Louisiana-Lafayette on Thursday evening.

GAME NOTES: Alcorn State

Penn State will meet the Lady Braves for the first time in program history and own a 4-0 record against teams in the current alignment of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Penn State has defeated Alabama A&M, Jackson State and twice toppled Prairie View A&M.



Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Building Momentum: Penn State rebounded from a loss at South Dakota State with a victory over then-No. 20/24 Texas A&M last week and will have to more games before starting Big Ten play on Sunday, Jan. 5. The Lady Lions will host Alcorn State today before taking a quick holiday break and returning to Happy Valley for a Dec. 29 bout with Hartford.

Waldner Protecting the Paint: Junior forward Tori Waldner has been a force in the paint for the Blue and White in 2013-14 and had one of her best performances against Texas A&M last Sunday. The Milton, Ga. Native pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds and blocked three shots. On the season, Waldner now has a team-best 16 blocks - including at least one block in nine straight games - and currently ranks second on the team with 6.2 rebounds per game.

Lucas Continues Climb: Senior guard Maggie Lucas continues her ascent towards the top of the Penn State scoring charts. Lucas became the fifth player in school history to reach the 2,000-point plateau and moved into third place in school history with 2,054 career points after a 26-point effort vs. Texas A&M. She is now 199 points shy of moving into the No. 2 spot, currently held by Susan Robinson with 2,253 points.

What To Watch For - Alcorn State

Another New Face: Alcorn State will be meeting the Lady Lions for the first time in program history on Sunday in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Lady Braves have already played four opponents for the first time in program history, defeating Nebraska-Omaha and dropping games to Central Arkansas, James Madison and East Carolina.

Leading the Lady Braves: Senior Tierro Frost is the top scorer for the Lady Braves this season, entering Sunday's matchup averaging 15.4 points per contest. She is the only ASU player averaging in double figures, with Ashtin NcNichols averaging 9.0 points in just two games played. Frost also leads the team in assists (9) and steals (13), while sitting second on the squad in rebounds (44) and blocked shots (5).

Calling Flint Home: The birthplace of General Motors, Flint, Mich. is also home to Penn State head coach Coquese Washington and Alcorn State head coach Tonya Edwards. Edwards and Washington have met as opponents at every level, playing high school basketball against one another, meeting in college, and playing vs. each other in both the ABL and WNBA. Edwards played her high school basketball at Northwestern and attended the University of Tennessee, while Washington prepped at Central High School and played collegiately for Notre Dame. The two met only once in college, a 77-54 victory for the senior Edwards' No. 1 Lady Vols over the freshman Washington's Fighting Irish.

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--LADY LIONS--

Washington Gets Recognition From Nation's Best

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As Penn State Lady Lion basketball has returned to national recognition, a lot of focus has been on the job Coquese Washington has done during her seven-year tenure.

Washington-Coquese (5).jpegWashington's name has vaulted into the group of up-and-coming college head coaches over the past two season and some current elite women's basketball coaches shared that sentiment earlier this year.

The Notre Dame graduate began her collegiate head coaching career at Penn State in 2007 and has made three NCAA tournament appearances and won two regular season Big Ten Conference championships in the past three years.

"She's right on top of [her game]...she's the best young coach in the country," said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. "When a couple coaches retire, I think she's going to be the one [coach] that everyone looks to."

It all starts with recruiting for Washington, who has had three top-20 recruiting classes since 2008, including a top-10 ranked 2013 class. Washington has recruited players specific to the program's need and has developed a diverse group of stars during her time as head coach for the Blue and White.

Recruiting is where it all starts for elite programs according to legendary Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who said Washington has done a tremendous job in getting the right players to Penn State.


"I think Coquese has done a great job of recruiting to her style of play," he said. "That's probably one of the reasons why fans love coming to their [Penn State's] games. This is one of those places where you can be really successful and create a lot of excitement and get a lot of people from the community involved."

Washington has done just that especially during the past three seasons that have ended in NCAA tournament appearances. The annual "Pink Zone" game has attracted over 11,000 fans since 2011, including 14,173 in 2013.

She has also become active in the community with "Coquese's Drive" which raised over 18-thousand dollars for the Women's Resource Center in the sixth annual golf tournament.

Combine those efforts with her leadership, development of players and results on the court; it has been hard not to notice what the Penn State Lady Lion program has become over the recent years.

"There are probably twenty schools in the country that people think are really, really good and they're one of them," Auriemma said of Penn State.

Additionally, besides building one of the top programs in America, Washington has been very active in the women's basketball world as well. She currently resides as the Vice President/President-Elect for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and is on the board of directors of the NCAA Women's Basketball Issues Committee.

Her work at Penn State and in the realm of women's basketball has led many current coaches to believe Washington is the future of coaching in the sport.

"[Coquese] knows what's good for the game of women's basketball," said McGraw. "She can take her institutional hat off, which a lot of people can't do, and really think about of what's good for women's basketball and what we need for growth in the game.

"She's is going to be the best coaches in the country... she's the best young coach in the country right now. When a couple coaches retire, I think she's going to be the one that everyone looks at to lead the game."

Washington will enter her seventh Big Ten season on Jan. 5 at Iowa after the final non-conference games of the season with Alcorn State Sunday, Dec. 22 and Hartford on Sunday, Dec. 29.

--NITTANY LIONS--

Strong Second Half Leads Lady Lions Past Ranked Foe

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was classic Lady Lion basketball on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday, Dec. 15 as Penn State hosted then-No. 20/24 Texas A&M. The Lady Lions entered the contest ranked 12th in the NCAA and dominated the glass in the second half, played stifling defense and watched their best offensive scorer go to work in the scoring column culminating in a 66-58 win over the Aggies.

Lucas-Maggie (9).jpegPenn State started off hot in the first half opening the game with a 12-0 run with scoring from Lucas, Ariel Edwards and Dara Taylor. Texas A&M then found a way to negate their 0-for-13 shooting start and made a run midway through to half to take a 27-19 lead. The Lady Lions countered with an 11-1 run to take a 30-28 lead into the break.

The second half was where things got rolling for Penn State and Lucas led the way scoring nine of the first 11 points of the half. Lucas added 10 more points in her 17-point second half and 27-point afternoon, guiding Penn State past a tough Aggie team.

"I thought she got some pretty good looks," said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. "Maggie [Lucas] picked up the load. She made some really good shots and she made some tough shots. She did a good job reading the defense to figure out where her openings were going to be."

For Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair, Lucas' performance was no surprise. The 11th year head coach spoke highly of Lucas in the postgame press conference and even said he used her as an example to his players before the game.

"I told my kids before shoot around, I said 'Watch'," Blair said referencing Lucas. "An hour and thirty minutes before the game, Maggie Lucas was on the floor shooting. That's what the great ones do. The good ones talk about it, the great ones find the gym and get their mojo working."

Lucas' mojo was working, especially in the second half. She didn't do it alone though, as the Penn State rebounding attack improved greatly in the final 20 minutes of play. Texas A&M tallied just three offensive rebounds in the half, compared to 13 in the first half.

With Talia East in foul trouble, Tori Waldner and Edwards combined for eight of Penn State's 16 defensive rebounds shutting Texas A&M out of any second-chance opportunities. Because of the zone Washington uses, defensive rebounding can be hard to come by because of the gaps it creates, but she has stressed her team has to find a way to counter that and she thought they did a good job of doing so in the second half.

"It takes the team a while to figure out where the rebounds were going to come from and how people are crashing the boards during a game," said Washington.  "I thought the second half we did a much better job of rebounding out of the zone. Tori [Waldner], in particular, just did a much better job of attacking the backboard."

A strong second half led to the win against Texas A&M Sunday, but still has Washington searching for a complete two-halve performance with just two non-conference games remaining before their Big Ten opener against Iowa on Jan. 5.

However, Washington did say she thought the win Sunday was certainly a step in the right direction.


"We did a better job today in putting two halves together but we aren't quite there yet," she said. "That's the thing we have to do. I think the more experience we get with this team and this unit playing together, that will come."

Penn State hosts Alcorn State on Dec. 22 and Hartford on Dec. 29 to cap the 2013 non-conference season. Both games are at the Bryce Jordan Center.

 

--LADY LIONS--

GAME BLOG: Lady Lions host Texas A&M

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the Penn State women's basketball contest against No. 20/24 Texas A&M on Sunday, Dec. 15 inside the Bryce Jordan Center. 

BLOG: What to Watch  |  BLOG: Patience Leads East to Feature Role  |  GAME NOTES: Texas A&M

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use #PennState or #LadyLions and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage.

 

What To Watch: Penn State hosts Texas A&M

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team returns home to start a three-game homestand on Sunday (Dec. 15) against Texas A&M. The No. 12/12 Lady Lions (6-3) welcome No. 20/24 Aggies (5-2) to the Bryce Jordan Center for a 2 p.m. tipoff.

GAME NOTES: Texas A&M

Penn State trailed by 20 points at halftime on Wednesday at South Dakota State, but rallied in the second half to pull within one point, however, the Jackrabbits held on down the stretch for an 83-79 victory. Three players reached double figures for Penn State, with Ariel Edwards netting 24 points, Maggie Lucas scoring 20 points and Dara Taylor adding 19.

The all-time series is tied (1-1), with Penn State snapping Texas A&M's long home court non-conference winning streak last season and the Aggies winning the first meeting in 2008 at the Timeout 4 HIV/AIDS Tournament in Malibu.

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Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Bouncing Back Under Washington: Penn State has not lost consecutive games since dropping back-to-back Big Ten contests during the 2011-12 season. At that time, Penn State lost at Ohio State, 89-67, before falling to Purdue at home, 51-49, in February of 2012. The Lady Lions have followed up a loss with a win on 17 straight occasions, including this season vs. Bucknell and at Georgetown.

Edwards Goes for 24: Senior Ariel Edwards tied her career-high on Wednesday at South Dakota State by scoring 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting. The Elmont, N.Y. native, tied the mark she set last season against Detroit on Nov. 23, 2012 at the Radisson Hotel Chatsworth Thanksgiving Tournament. It is her third career 20-point game, with the other coming against St. Francis (23) in the 2013-14 season opener.

Home for the Holidays: Penn State will be at home for their next three games starting tonight against the Aggies. The Blue and White will host Alcorn State (12/22) before heading home for a quick holiday break. They will then welcome Hartford to the Bryce Jordan Center on Dec. 29 before hitting the road to begin Big Ten play on Jan. 5, 2014 at Iowa.

What To Watch For - Texas A&M

Looking for Revenge: This will be the second game in the home-and-home series, which began with a Penn State victory over Texas A&M last season at Reed Arena. The Lady Lions claimed a 63-58 decision to end the Aggies 58-game non-conference home winning streak that dated back to the 2003 season.

Limiting the Opposition: The Aggies are ranked 13th in the NCAA defensively, allowing 54.4 points per game, allowing only three opponents to crack the 60-point mark. The Aggies have limited two opponents to fewer than 40 points - Prairie View A&M (27) & San Diego State (35) - and also held North Texas to just 45 points.

Against the Rankings: Texas A&M has won their last three games against ranked opponents away from home and claimed four of their last five such contests. They also like playing the No. 12 team in the rankings, winning their last three contests vs. the 12th ranked team - defeating Oklahoma (2009-10) and twice beating Texas (2008-09 & 2009-10).

--LADY LIONS--

Patience Leads East to Feature Role

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two words: patience and dedication. Put those two together and you get Lady Lion senior Talia East.

East-Talia (3).jpegThe 6-foot-3 forward from Philadelphia wasn't seeing the playing time she wanted in her first two years due to injuries and veterans in front of her. In 2012-13, East began to show flashes of the player she could be and now in her final year in Happy Valley, she is a dominating force inside for the Lady Lions. Blossomed

That first word, patience, has been the key for East. It took her more time than she would have liked to crack the starting lineup on a consistent basis, but East wouldn't have it any other way because she now understands her role on the team.

"It's all about understanding what the team needs from you," said East. "As soon as you understand that and excel at your role, you're going to get a bigger role and then you look up and you're starting on a top-10 team in the nation. It was just about understanding my role and exceling at it.

East's emergence doesn't surprise her coaches and teammates because of the amount of work she put in over the summer and over the past three years. Now, she's averaging just over 20 minutes a game, 6.8 rebounds and 6.6 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the floor, all drastic improvements from one year ago.


"This offseason she put in a lot of work and she's a fun kid," said Washington.  "Her teammates love her, her coaches love her and I'm just happy that she's having the type of senior season she is having. You want to end your career playing the best basketball you can and give everything you have to the success of the team and she's doing that."

While East said she is never satisfied with her play, she did admit it was exciting to see all of her hard work pay off and her contributions be felt on the floor as a senior captain. East's leadership has constantly been on display off the court, but she has been the main leader in Penn State's games against two of the top five teams in the country.

Against No. 1 Connecticut on Nov. 17, and against two of the better post players in the country - Stefanie Dolson and Breanna Stewart - East thrived inside scoring eight points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Similarly against No. 4 Notre Dame she again dominated the post tallying a career-high 12 points, with four rebounds and three blocks.

Those two performances continued to instill confidence in the senior and confirm how big of a role she needs to have for her team. Washington cited that as the biggest reason why East has been able to succeed in the non-conference season.

"She plays with the confidence and urgency that seniors play with," said Washington. "She's really comfortable with who she is as a basketball player and what her contributions to the team are. She's really figured out what her game is and what her contributions are and she just brings [that mentality] every night."

The way East is playing is not only important to her and to the overall success of the team, but also plays a big role in the development of the seven freshmen on the 2013-14 roster.

Washington said East is the perfect player to watch and learn from about how to be patient and grow into the player the team needs.


"I hope they [the freshmen] are paying attention," Washington said.

After a couple minutes with rookie post player Alex Harris, it is clear that they are.

Harris watches East every day in practice and thinks back to the fact that her success didn't happen overnight. It was a long three year process that brought East to this point in her career and Harris said that is a "very important lesson" for herself and fellow freshman to learn.


"It's sending a great message," said Harris. "It teaches us patience and shows that as we go on [through our careers] we will get better. From her I have learned to keep working and getting in the gym and from there you will get to your top point like Talia is in her senior year.

"Not many people have this type of opportunity and I'm grateful to be able to look up to her and see where she is and how hard she worked to get to this point."

Three years ago East was saying those words about players like Nikki Greene, whom she learned important lessons from, and now it is her turn to succeed and teach.

Nine games into the season it is safe to say her patience and dedication is paying off and setting a great example for the younger players in the program.


Penn State is back on the floor Sunday against No. 24 Texas A&M at 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Lady Lions Comeback Falls Just Short at South Dakota State

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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Temperatures were below zero last night in Brookings, S.D., but if you were inside the appropriately named Frost Arena, you would have thought there was a heat wave.

Edwards-Ariel (3).jpegBoth the Lady Lions and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits were lighting a fire all over the hardwood yesterday evening, combining to score a total of 162 points.

Despite being unable to complete the comeback and eventually losing, 83-79, in a difficult road test, the Blue and White displayed tenacity by clawing back from a 20-point first half deficit. 

"What this really goes to show us is we need to be more determined from the opening tip," said Penn State assistant coach Kia Damon.

The Jackrabbits seemed to always have an answer for every Lady Lions made basket in the first half, especially from beyond the arc. The Jackrabbits shot an astounding 50 percent from downtown in the first half (8-of-16), to go into the locker room at the half leading, 55-35.

There is no denying Penn State dug itself quite a hole in the first half, but when the buzzer sounded and the second half commenced it seemed as if a spark had been ignited within the Lady Lions.

It was the play of some experienced veterans that energized Penn State in the second half. Senior guard Dara Taylor scored 11 of her career-high 19 points in the second frame to jumpstart the Lady Lions.

Taylor was not the only Lady Lion to spark the squad. Forward Ariel Edwards tied her career-high with 24 points, including 16 second half points thanks to 7-of-8 shooting.  

"They [Taylor and Edwards] were the catalysts who were getting us going in transition," said Damon. "We were able to use our speed and athleticism to get some easy baskets; they led the charge in the second half."

Senior Maggie Lucas naturally contributed on the offensive side of the ball by tallying 20 points, 12 of which were netted in the second half. Lucas's offensive efforts moved her up to 15th place on the Big Ten all-time career scoring list.

The second half play of the Lady Lions is definitely the type of effort that Coquese Washington and her coaching staff are looking for out of their team as conference play approaches.

"We showed we are aggressive and determined to move the ball in order to get good shot attempts," said Damon. "When we do those things, we can be successful."

Considering the fact that since the 2011-12 season the Jackrabbits are now 29-4 in Frost Arena, escaping with just a four point loss is to some extent permissible, but the Lady Lions are determined to learn from their play in the first half to continue to grow into a stronger team.

"The number one takeaway is we held South Dakota State to just 28 points in the second half, but we gave up 55 points in the first half, and we had the same defensive philosophy in both halves," said Damon. "We are capable of making people have very long nights offensively, but we must start the game with that kind of mindset."

 

--LADY LIONS--