Lady Lions Trounce Spartans in East Lansing

Story posted January 7, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Bill DiFilippo

The 9th-ranked Penn State Lady Lions (12-2, 2-0) won their second straight Big Ten game against the (13-2, 1-1) Michigan State Spartans on Sunday afternoon by a score of 76-55.

The Lady Lions started the game off hot, racing out to an early 6-0 lead over the Spartans. However, Michigan State was able to slow the Lions’ frenetic pace, chipping away at the Lions lead despite being down as many as seven points.

Penn State’s inability to hold onto the ball, they committed seven turnovers in the first half that led to nine points, and Michigan State’s constant pressure on the Lions’ junior guard Maggie Lucas both factored in the Spartans’ ability to chip into the Lions’ lead.

As the half progressed, Penn State began to impose their will on the Spartans, ripping off an 11-0 run in three minutes behind six points from senior guard Alex Bentley and three points from redshirt junior guard Dara Taylor and junior forward Ariel Edwards

While the Lions led by as many as 13 points, the Spartans ended the half on a 7-4 run to cut the Penn State lead to nine, 34-25.

In the first half, the big story was the play of Bentley. While Lucas, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, went 0-3 from the field, Bentley put up nine points and led the team’s offensive attack. Taylor ended the half with six points, three steals and two assists, and redshirt senior forward Mia Nickson and senior center Nikki Greene combined for eight points and seven rebounds.

Both teams had issues with turnovers in the first half: Penn State turned the ball over seven times, while Michigan State coughed the ball up 12 times. The Spartans also imposed their will on the glass, outrebounding the Lions 17 to 12.

The second half began the same way as the first, with a Nittany Lions run. The Lady Lions burst out of the gate on a 13-4 run, including seven straight points, to push their lead to 18.

As the game went on, the Spartans could not keep up with the Lions’ fast paced offense and was flustered by the team’s pressure defense, and led by as many as 26 points. Michigan State, who came into this game boasting the best scoring and field goal percentage defense in the Big Ten, allowed a season high 76 points.

Despite getting outrebounded 39 to 35, the Nittany Lions were able to force 14 turnovers and block seven shots by the Spartans. Penn State was also remarkably efficient from the field, shooting 29-56 (51.8%) and 7-12 from three (58.3%).

While the Spartans were able to hold Lucas to 13 points, well below her season average of 21.2 points per game, three other Lions scored in double-digits to pick up the slack. Taylor (who averages 6.9 points per game) had a career-high 18, Greene (7.8 ppg) had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Bentley (12.2 ppg) had 13 points.

After the game, coach Coquese Washington discussed the game’s breakout performer: Dara Taylor.

“Dara’s a very capable shooter,” Washington told, “And she’s also an extremely gifted passer. And so sometimes she will pass up open shots in order to try and get her teammates involved, and so one of the things that we’ve encouraged her to do is be a dual threat. Shoot the ball when you’re open and when you’re not open, pass it. And I thought tonight that she did a really good job just taking advantage of the opportunities, playing smart and making great decisions with the ball.”

The Lions defense stifled the Spartans, and held them to 17-58 shooting (29.3%) and 4-18 from three (22.2%).  Penn State also held Michigan State’s junior guard Klarissa Bell, who averages 12.1 points per game, to eight points.

When asked about the team’s defense, Washington praised assistant coach Fred Chmiel, who she referred to as the “architect of our defense.”

“I think they understand that, in order for us to be successful on the levels we want to be successful, we can’t rely on outscoring people, we’ve got to be able to play both ends of the floor,” Washington told after the game, “Our kids are developing the mentality that we want to score, but we also want to be able to score on the defensive end. And I think we get that toughness, it starts with our assistant coach Fred Chmiel.”

The Lady Lions return to the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 2 pm against the 25th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. The game will be broadcast live on ComRadio.

Bill DiFilippo is a junior majoring in journalism with a minor in English.  To contact him, e-mail