(Ed. - Bump. Well done, sir. Also, ladies. - JJ)
The Lady Lions, riding a 10 game win streak, went to Ohio State on Sunday to take on the Buckeyes for a BIG show down. As with the previous 10 games, the Lady Lions fought hard and played smart, tough basketball, earning the W, their first in Columbus since 2004. Even though the Buckeyes entered the game 1-5 in BIG play, Coquese Washington knew that their record did not reflect the talent of this team. Throughout the first half she was proven correct.
The Lady Lions started the game on a 7-0 run, but the Buckeyes began to battle back, going on their own 11-0 run to take the lead. Throughout the first half the Lady Lions did not play great defense; their rebounding on both sides of the ball was lacking and shots were just not falling. Maggie Lucas, one of two Lady Lions on the John Wooden mid-season award watch list, was held to 4 points. Lucas was defended tightly, which didn’t allow her to get off screens for the open jumper, a staple of her style of play. Fortunately, Alex Bentley, the other Lady Lion on the Wooden Award list, shot relatively well in the half making 5 FG for 10 points. The Buckeyes, though, certainly came ready to play PSU, especially Tayler Hill. Hill, also on the Wooden Award list, shot 4-7 from behind the arc, including one that was past NBA range with the shot clock ticking down. She scored 18 points in the half.
If the Lions were going to make the comeback and leave Columbus with the victory, there were a few halftime adjustments they needed to make: offensive rebounding, which could lead to second change points; stop or at least limit Hill; and create fast breaks that turn into points. In the first half, the Lions had seven points off turnovers, six fast breaks and only eight bench points. They would also need to limit their fouling as well; by the end of the first half, four Penn Staters had two fouls each. The Lions would need to start playing the way they have all season if they were to erase the 28-37 deficit at the half.
I don’t know what Coquese said to the team during halftime, but it certainly worked. The Lions came out like a completely different team, or more appropriately, they came out looking like the Nittany Lions. After a quick bucket by the Buckeyes, they started the second half on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 39. During their run, Penn State played tough defense, getting two steals which lead to four fast break points, as well as one possession where they scored five points (two fouls on Nikki Greene, where she went 2-4 from the strip and a three by Maggie Lucas off a Greene miss).
After a timeout, the Buckeyes would answer with a layup, but the Lions went right back to work, going on a 9-0 run to take the lead for good. The Buckeyes would try and mount a late game rally, getting to within five points of PSU, but the Lions were not to be denied. The Lady Lions would go on an 8-0 run that put them up by 13 late in the game. To punctuate the victory, with :47 on the game clock, Lucas hit a pull back three for the final score of the game. The shot was pure Maggie Lucas.
The game certainly was a tale of two halves. In the second half alone, the Lady Lions had 18 points off turnovers, 15 second chance points, nine fast breaks and eight bench points. Leading the way was Lucas, with 18 points, 14 of which were in the second half, followed by Bentley with 16 and Greene with 11, including 13 rebounds. The Lady Lions, having left Columbus with a 71-56 victory, extended their win streak to 11, 7-0 in BIG play and the fourth longest win streak in the nation. This victory also extended the Lady Lions’ B1G win streak to 14, started last season.
The Lions next game will be on January 31st when they travel to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers, which should be televised on BTN, followed by a tough home game against #14 Purdue, on Feb 4th, which will be on ESPN2.
Post game comments by Coquese here.
Do work Coquese, do work.
For the Glory