For the second time this season, the No. 16 Lady Lions had a chance to assert their dominance in the women’s basketball landscape. Also for the second time, they failed by only winning one of their two games.
Game #7: Lady Lions (6-1) defeat No. 14 North Carolina, 103-84
This was a huge win for Penn State. Coming off victories against Iowa State and Nevada all the way in Reno, the team
was excited to play in their own gym and welcome a big-time opponent. After fouling profusely in the first half, which has continued to be a theme for the Lady Lions, it seemed like fouls would be their demise. They led 58-51 at the half, but Maggie Lucas earned her fourth foul less than a minute into the second half. She sat for the next fourteen minutes or so, requiring her fellow guards to step up.
They did. Alex Bentley notched her first career double-double (15 points and a career-high 15 assists) and Zhaque Gray scored 25 points. Though the high-octane offense of the Lady Lions was able to overpower the Tar Heels, the amount of foul trouble that the team got itself in is not a recipe for continual success. A win is a win, especially against a team this good, but things haven’t been as smooth as Coach Washington has wanted them to be so far.
Game #8: Lady Lions (6-2) lose at No. 19 Texas Tech, 70-66
This very exciting game was a tale of two halves for the Lady Lions. They led 36-34 when the first half ended, having shot 53.8 percent from the floor. Their offense was effective, scoring 20 points in the paint. The second half was a different story; the Lady Lions shot a measly 25 percent from the floor and only collected eight points in the paint. The dreaded f-word was once again a major problem for the Lady Lions. Nikki Greene, Talia East and Tori Waldner (all of whom mainly play center) had four personal fouls, resulting in a collective 52 minutes between the three of them.
The Lady Lions might have won had Zhaque Gray handled an offensive rebound late in the game, but they definitely would have won if they hadn’t been so outrebounded. The Lady Raiders grabbed 48 boards to the Lady Lions’ 36, and Texas Tech had 22 offensive boards to Penn State’s 13. Coach Washington was peeved that North Carolina outrebounded the Lady Lions (48-40), but the win eased the pain. It was probably a different story against Texas Tech.
Player of the Week
Alex Bentley, again. After her first ever double-double against North Carolina, she scored 18 points in Lubbock, hitting a key three-pointer late in the game that brought Penn State within one point of a tie.
The Lady Lions’ foul trouble could be causing their rebound problems. Most of the culprits of crooked numbers in the PF category are the Lady Lion forwards and centers. Greene has lost so much playing time to fouls that her starting position on the team is more of a formality; East is playing almost as much as Greene.
In other news, Tori Waldner has been tremendous for a freshman. She’s exceeded all expectations and has saved the
Lady Lion bigs when they’ve gotten in foul trouble.
Around the League
Only four weeks into the season, the Lady Lions have officially abandoned being beasts of the Big Ten. Today, No. 13 Purdue took down No. 4 Texas A&M at home, 60-51. Sure, Purdue lost to No. 7 Duke earlier in the week, but at 7-1, Purdue has had a much more convincing season than the Lady Lions.
With the win and loss, Penn State figures to remain pretty stagnant in tomorrow’s rankings, perhaps dropping a spot or two.
12/6 vs. Virginia Tech (2-5): This game starts the easiest stretch of Penn State’s schedule, in which they’ll finally be able to play some legitimately weak teams.
12/11 vs. Maryland Eastern-Shore (2-8)