It wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done.
Guards Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas each contributed 22 points as the No. 12 Lady Lions (1-0) got off to the right start on Friday night, defeating the Washington State Cougars, 72-60, but there were road bumps along the way.
The Lady Lions turned the ball over 24 times and didn’t obtain a lead they wouldn’t surrender until there was 6:53 left in the game. They trailed at the half, and the game was separated by only five points until there was 0:57 left.
The Lady Lions got off to a quick start, jumping out to an early 16-8 lead. Lucas led the early charge, scoring half of those points en route to scoring 16 in the half.
But from there, foul trouble and defensive shortcomings started to plague the Lady Lions. They fouled Washington State ten times in the first half, allowing them to take a 38-35 lead by the end of the half. The Cougars spread the wealth, as four of their players registered six points in the first half.
Had it not been for the Cougars’ own foul troubles, the Lady Lions might have been in a deeper hole by the end of the half. WSU fouled Penn State 13 times, and the Lady Lions went 12-for-16 in free throw shooting in the half.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair. It had seven lead changes and three ties before guard Gizelle Studevent put the Lady Lions ahead, 61-60.
Lucas and Bentley were rarely on the bench, as they played 38 and 36 minutes, respectively. Though center Nikki Greene started, she was spelled often by Talia East, as they played 22 and 19 minutes.
This game was the first of the Lady Lion Classic, a four-team tournament. On Sunday, Penn State will play either Middle Tennessee State or UNC-Wilmington.