Lady Lions Win Big Over Cal (Pa.) In Exhibition Game
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania -- Basketball was back in Happy Valley on Sunday afternoon, when the Lady Lions played an exhibition game against California (Pa.). It was the first time the men’s or women’s team took the floor at the Bryce Jordan Center since the conclusion of last season. A total of 2,687 fans were on hand to see the Lions’ dominant 84-58 win.
The Vulcans started the game with good energy and hung in with Penn State early in the game. Since it was an exhibition game, four quarters were played instead of two halves.
With four and a half minutes to play in the first, the Lady Lions only led by four and only by six at the end of the quarter. The Lions created some separation from California and extended their lead to 11 at the half. Junior Kaliyah Mitchell led the team with 11 while Brianna Banks and Peyton Whitted had 10 apiece.
However, something changed in the halftime locker room, which sparked the Nittany Lion offense. The team stormed out of the locker room and outscored California 24-10 in the third quarter alone. It gave the Lions a 63-38 lead, and the outcome was decided before the fourth quarter even started.
“I just feel like the second (half) we came out more focused,” said senior Briana Banks. “(We) executed where we were supposed to execute that we talked about during halftime.”
The fourth quarter featured more dominance even though Penn State only outscored Cal by one in the final quarter. The Lions went on to win by 26, which completed their first competitive game since March.
“I was pleased with a lot of things. Certainly, our returning players came back, and you could see the evidence of some of the work that they put in,” said head coach Coquese Washington.
The redshirt senior, Banks, sat out all of last year after transferring from UConn, and she got her first action since a couple seasons ago.
“It was really refreshing, actually. I was really excited coming in, a little nervous, but I was just really happy to be back on the floor outside of practice,” Banks said. The redshirt senior contributed to the game in all quarters and finished with a solid 20 points.
Juniors Peyton Whitted and Kaliyah Mitchell looked very comfortable on the floor and the two combined for 31 points and 24 rebounds.
“I was just really aggressive on both ends,” Whitted said. “I’m crashing the glass and just rebounding with two hands and just finding my shot. But, my main focus was just reclaiming the culture and doing whatever it takes to win the game,” she added.
The team lost a talented junior guard Sierra Moore last week. Moore averaged over 12 points a game last season and injured her knee during practice, sidelining her for the season. Coquese Washington knows that Moore’s absence is big but knows her team and Banks is up to the task to play without her.
“I think it’s going to be critical. I think her play. It’s not anything where she has to be more vocal, or anything like that, but she just has to have the presence out there like she had today,” said Washington on Banks stepping up with Moore being out.
The Lady Lions have six freshmen on their roster as well as a sophomore. Freshman Teniya Paige had an outstanding game controlling the tempo, as well as her seven points and 10 assists. It is a young team, and Coquese Washington knows that her upperclassmen will have to provide a spark at times.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces. They are going to be inconsistent. But, we need consistency from our upperclassmen and certainly Bri and Kaliyah seemed to provide a bit of that tonight,” Washington said.
The Lady Lions will open up the regular season against Holy Cross on Nov. 13, at 6 p.m. The players all agreed that there is still work to be done and shared what they need to work on the most.
“Boxing out and rebounding, and transition defense,” stated Banks in addition to some of her teammates.
Mike Wszolek is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.