Lady Lions Work Past Jackrabbits, Advance to 9-2
The #11/10 Penn State Lady Lions advanced to 9-2 on the season this Sunday against the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Jackrabbits, but offensive struggles and a strong SDSU defensive showing made it a challenging task for Coquese Washington’s squad.
The Lady Lions came into the matchup 8-2 on the season, riding a two-game win streak and a 10-game win streak at home dating back to January of last season. The Jackrabbits came to the Bryce Jordan Center riding a 3-game win streak of their own, looking to advance their all-time record against Big Ten opponents to 8-7.
SDSU came out playing aggressive basketball early, leading the Lady Lions outright for about 11 minutes in the first half. Penn State struggled offensively early on and did not have the lead once from 17:57 in the first half until 19:29 in the second half.
“Those nights are going to happen, that’s what I told my teammates,” said senior Alex Bentley about the team’s offensive struggles. “Nobody is going to have a perfect shooting night every game…you can’t hold your head down when shots aren’t falling, you’ve just got to say you’ll hit the next one.”
Leading scorers from both teams had trouble offensively, particularly in the first half. The Lady Lions’ leading scorer Maggie Lucas scored to just two points in the first half. SDSU’s leading scorer Megan Waytashek was also held to two points in the half, but the Jackrabbits’ number two scorer Ashley Eide was able to push the team with nine points before halftime.
“There just seemed to be a lid on the basket for both teams. That’s part of basketball, it just happens,” said Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington. “[Neither team] seemed to get in a rhythm and make shots.”
Forcing Lucas’s struggles on offense is one aspect of the game that SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston was happy with.
“We did a great job [covering Lucas],” said Johnston. “We just tried to be in a place where we knew she wanted to go and make her got to a different place.”
The Lady Lions came out of the locker room at halftime reenergized, kicking off the second half with a 7-0 run. The Jackrabbits put a stopper in the Penn State momentum, keeping the Penn State lead between three and seven points for most of the next eight minutes.
“I suggested that we do a better job defensively and we needed to get a little bit more of a flow on offense,” said Washington about the changes the team made at halftime. “In the second half we did a better job of getting Candice (Agee), Nikki (Greene) and Mia (Nickson) touches inside and using our size and strength advantage inside.”
Lucas hit her first three pointer of the afternoon with 7:12 remaining in the second half, giving Penn State a 12-point lead, its largest lead of the afternoon to that point. The Penn State lead did not fall below nine points for the remainder of the game.
Greene and Bentley carried the Lady Lions on offense, with 15 and 13 points respectively. Lucas finished the day with nine points, but what she struggled with on offense she made up for on defense. She finished the day with four blocks and five steals, leading the team in both categories.
Alex Eliasof is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com.