On Thursday night, No. 6 Lady Lions’ junior guard Maggie Lucas had one wish for her birthday, to beat Miami (Fla.) Thursday night, said her teammate freshman center Candice Agee.
It is one wish that will elude Lucas as she and the Lions (5-1) fell to Miami (5-1), 69-65.
While the game might have been decided on the scoreboard when the clock struck zero in the second half, the game shifted the Hurricanes' favor early in the contest.
Penn State did not record a single point until after the first official TV timeout, when junior forward Talia East made two free throws, her only points in 20 minutes of play, to end Miami’s early 8-0 run with 15:28 left in the first half.
The Lions did not make their first basket from the field until Lucas drained a three point shot less than 40 seconds after East scored the first points for the Lions.
The three was one of four made for Lucas on six attempts. She finished the night with 20 points, three assists and five rebounds in 40 minutes.
Lucas did not catch one minute of rest during the game partially because the Lions could not afford to lose their best shooter after falling behind early. Lucas shot 57.9 percent on 19 shots in total.
Although, the early scoring drought did not help the Lions, it did not pit them into such a great hole as their sloppy play.
In the team's first 11 possessions, the Lions turned the ball over nine times. They had 14 turnovers when 11 minutes were still left in the first half.
Penn State finished with 28 turnovers on the night, 20 in the first half.
It pitted the team in a great hole when they entered the locker rooms at half down trailing Miami, 36-29.
However, the Lions seemed poised to overcome their own adversity when the second frame went underway.
Lucas and senior center Nikki Greene, who scored six points with chipped away at the Hurricanes’ lead by tallying four points each after the first five minutes of the second half.
Then, the team went on a 10-0 run with 11 minutes left in the game, to take its first lead of the game after senior guard Alex Bentley made a layup to give the Lions a 53-49 lead.
Bentley finished the night with 14 points, four steals and four fouls that cut her minutes to 26.
Miami responded to Penn State’s run with its own 6-0 run to regain control of the game, leading 56-53 with 4:31 left.
The next four minutes went back and forth until Lucas connected on another three to tie the game at 65 with 23 seconds left.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the Hurricanes exploited the Lions’ defense once again with a lay-up made by Suriya McGuire, who scored eight points with two steals. The Hurricanes took two points and never looked back.
Senior forward Morgan Stroman and senior guard Stefanie Yderstrom were the Hurricanes leading scorers. Stroman picked up 15 points while Yderstrom finished with 14.
They also plagued the Lions on offense, combining to have nine steals.
There is one good thing to come out of the loss for the Lions.
Head coach Coquese Washington said the rebounding would prove to be a challenge for the Lions, but they outrebounded the Hurricanes 48-32. It’s the first time Miami has been outrebounded this year.
The Lions will try to rebound from their first defeat on the season Sunday against Lafayette before they take on No. 2 Connecticut at Storrs next Thursday night.