Lady Lions drop fourth straight against the Buckeyes

posted February 27, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Tyler Zulli

It appears that whatever slump the Penn State Lady Lions fell into when they matched up with the Ohio State Buckeyes in last year’s Big Ten Tournament has carried over into this season. The Buckeyes (20-9 overall, 12-5 Big Ten) thoroughly dominated the Lady Lions (6-22 overall, 3-14 Big Ten) Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center, especially in the second half, for their third consecutive victory over their Pennsylvania rival.

After 20 minutes of play, the Lady Loins trailed the Buckeyes 36-30, as the shooting woes for both teams proved to be costly early on. The Lady Lions shot a very poor 39 percent from the field and actually had the better shooting percentage in the first half. Despite leading by six at the half way mark, the Buckeyes shot an ever worse 37 percent from the field, including just 23 percent from beyond the arc.

The Buckeyes were paced by junior guard Ameryst Alston, the only player for either team to break double digits in points in the first half. She netted 14 points in the opening 20 minutes, hitting five of her first 12 shots, including knocking down two of six from deep.

The Lady Lions were led by Candace Agee in the first half, as she used her size and physical presence to dominate the paint, connecting on four of six shots, all while hauling in six rebounds. Her eight points were a high for Penn State in the first half. Agee finished the game with 15 points and ten rebounds, picking up another double-double on the season.

Worse than the poor shooting percentage for these two teams in the first half was the poor ball handling and decision-making. The teams combined for an astounding 17 turnovers in the first half of play, leaving much to be desired out on the floor.  

In the second half, the shooting, and gameplay as a whole, significantly improved for Ohio State, as the team’s offensive dominance came to the forefront from the get go in the final 20 minutes. The Buckeyes, in fact, knocked down their first three shots from the field, improving immediately on a terrible first half from the floor. These three quick buckets were fueled by turnovers on back-to-back Penn State possessions.

Coquese Washington believes that her team is playing hard, and continuing to work, despite the struggles on the court and results on the scoreboard. She did, however, note that the turnovers were again a huge factor in the outcome of the game.

“Those three turnovers to start the half gave them a cushion that they were able to play with for the rest of the game,” said Washington.

That theme remained throughout the half, as the Lady Lions struggled once again in the turnover differential, committing 13 second half turnovers, bringing the team total up to 23 for the game. The troubles with turnovers continue to plague this young and still inexperienced Lady Lions team.

Alston continued her scoring success in the second half, finishing the night with a game-high 23 points, on 50 percent shooting from the field, including 4-9 from three.

Another reason for the offensive surge from the Buckeyes was the emergence of junior guard Cait Craft. Craft, continually trying to make a name for herself in the wake of the tremendous career of her older brother, Aaron, was lights out from three point range, knocking down four of six from three, contributing 12 points on the night.

The nation’s second leading scorer, Kelsey Mitchell, was sensational in the second half, as she took control midway through. Despite finishing with 18 points, the Lady Lions should take solace in the fact that they limited Mitchell to just 6-19 from the field on the night. She did contribute six assists in the game, as she was able to space the floor for her teammates as well.

Coquese Washington gave high praises to the guard.

“Kelsey Mitchell is really good at creating for herself and creating for her teammates, so she’s a tough cover,” Washington said.

Sierra Moore recognized the second half defense wasn’t nearly as strong as it could have been. The redshirt sophomore primarily blames the lack of transition for the team’s lack of defense.

“We weren’t communicating and getting back on defense quick enough and, we let them get the easy buckets, and that’s what really got away from us,” said Moore.

On the other side of the ball, Moore continued to pace the Lady Lions attack, a seemingly recurring theme for Penn State throughout the season. Moore finished the day with a team-high 18 points on 8-15 shooting.

The loss for the Lady Lions is their fourth consecutive. The team hasn’t won a home game since January 25, when they narrowly defeated Northwestern.  The win for the Buckeyes is the team’s third consecutive, as they have now clinched a 20-win season for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. As mentioned earlier, Ohio State has now defeated Penn State in three consecutive meetings dating back to last season’s Big Ten Tournament.

Tyler Zulli is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email Tzull34@gmail.com.