Think Pink: Lady Lions Battle to the End at Tenth Annual Pink Zone Game
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With high energy and most of the seats filled at the Bryce Jordan Center for the annual Pink Zone game Sunday afternoon, Penn State stormed back in the second half, but fell short to Michigan as the Wolverines walked away with a 91-87 victory.
“I love the fight that we have. This team really loves to play and they’re not going to stop playing until the final buzzer,” said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. “That’s a great thing to have as a coach, to really know that your kids are going to be in it for the full 40 minutes.”
Key players in this matchup on both sides of the ball included Brianna Banks and Teniya Page. Banks led Penn State (6-10, 1-4 Big Ten) in first half scoring with 13 points and finished the game with 19 points, five assists and five rebounds. Page undoubtedly played one of her best games so far this season, putting up an incredible 31 points, with 23 of those points coming in the second half alone.
“Even though I started the second half missing some layups, I realized the pull-up was there instead of trying to get all the way to the basket,” Page said. “In transition, I took my time on the layups, actually made them and did the same with the threes when I was open.”
Candice Agee picked up two points down low at the end of the first half as the Lady Lions headed into the locker room trailing only by four to the Wolverines 37-34.
High pressure on defense was pivotal for the Nittany Lions in the first half, but something they definitely fell short on in the second. Key defenders Ashanti Thomas and Candice Agee showed little aggression in both their second half performances.
“I think some of the foul trouble stopped [Thomas] from getting into a rhythm. I really like the way that Ashanti has grown and developed this season and as she continues to play and get experience, I think she’s going to be really good for us in time,” said Washington. “Candice is certainly a big body for us and sometimes the pace of the game may be too fast, but when she’s in there, we try and get her touches down on the paint.”
Many open looks were available for Michigan to take, specifically for Katelynn Flaherty, who had 19 points in the second half alone. The Nittany Lion’s headed into the fourth quarter facing a nine-point deficit.
The fourth quarter went back and forth between Michigan pulling away with a big lead just to have the Nittany Lions go on a run and cut the deficit back down to a couple of points. The key came down to Michigan’s efficiency at the free throw line, going 27 of 33 in the second half alone, including hitting clutch free throws late in the game.
Page not only helped the Lady Lions offensively with her career high scoring performance almost escape with a win, but also became the first freshman to score 30 points in a game for Penn State since Tyra Grant did it back in 2007.
Spirits were still high throughout the afternoon, as this game was played in recognition of all those who have either survived breast cancer or are still continuing on in their fight.
The Nittany Lions will travel to Iowa on Wednesday to take on the Hawkeyes in their seventh Big Ten matchup of the season. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.
Ellie French is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.