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Jan. 13, 2014
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Playing in the Big Ten is a hefty challenge year in and year out. Yesterday No. 15/14 Penn State (11-4, 2-1) found out just that as they fell to conference foe No. 20/21 Purdue (11-4, 1-2), 84-74, in front of the Bryce Jordan Center faithful.
Despite the 10-point loss to the sharp-shooting Boilermakers, Talia East was a force to be reckon with down low on both ends of the floor.
The 6-foot-3 senior out of Philadelphia registered seven blocks, corralled 10 rebounds (four offensive) and tallied nine points on 4-of-10 shooting to lead the Lady Lions frontcourt.
With the seven rejections, East managed to tie her career high in blocks, which she originally set back during her sophomore season. Moreover, she fell just one block short of tying the Lady Lion record for rejections in a game.
"It's [shot blockers] a nice asset to have, knowing that we have Talia [East] and Tori [Waldner] in there and knowing that they can alter or block shots," said Washington.
Thanks to the patience displayed defensively by East, Waldner and a handful of others, the Lady Lions as an entire unit tied a program record with 14 blocked shots. The record was set in 1980 vs. Delaware and tied again in 1982 vs. Boston University.
"Their team was driving [to the basket] a lot," said East. "We knew that if they kept trying to drive baseline that we were going to be able to get blocked shots. I think that's what our strategy was going into the game."
Even though Washington noted her comfort in having East and Waldner down on the block to deter any opponent who tries to go inside, she surprisingly focused on sacrificing those blocks for better perimeter defense.
"The problem is that they're getting a lot of their blocked shots on dribble penetration or second chance offensive opportunities and offensive rebounds," said Washington. "I would trade them getting less blocks if that means we're doing a better job containing the ball and rebounding."
As of late the focus for Washington and her Lady Lions has circled around the idea of starting and finishing games strong.
Although the Blue and White opened the game on a 7-0 run, and found success sporadically during vs. Purdue, Washington stressed the importance of playing hard from start to finish.
"We had a stretch in the second half when we played pretty well," said Washington. "Outside those [stretches of play] I don't think we played very well at all on either end of the floor. We just need to put a 40-minute game together...That's an area of growth for us to look at moving forward this year. We have to be able to put 40 minutes together."
Offensively, the Lady Lions scored 40 points in the paint and converted on 25-second chance points. The opportunities were certainly there; it is just a matter of playing more consistency on both ends of the floor.
"When we had our good stretch in the second half, we were playing pretty well, we had good balance," said Washington. "We were getting the ball in the paint with good paint touches and getting the ball to our posts. We just weren't consistent with that throughout the game."
The game yesterday marked only Penn State's third Big Ten contest and Washington reminded everyone, the media and her team, about that fact after the loss to a ranked Purdue squad.
"The thing about it is that it's early in the Big Ten season," said Washington. "We just have to regroup and get ready for Ohio State."
Penn State will look to rebound when they return to action back at the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. against Ohio State.