Twenty-two points. That was not the halftime deficit that the No. 19 Lady Lions (11-4, 1-2 Big Ten) were expecting to face on their home floor Saturday afternoon, but that's exactly the hole they dug themselves in.
On a national stage, the preseason favorites to win the Big Ten, the Lions found themselves trailing big to the reigning Big Ten champion Michigan State Spartans on Saturday afternoon on CBS as the teams went to the locker rooms.
Taylor Alton carried the load for the Spartans in the first half and came out on fire, going 5-for-5 from the field including 4-for-4 from behind the arc. She finished the contest with a team-high 20 points. Porsche Poole also chimed in with 10 points of her own and along with senior guard Alton, were the only two players hitting double digits at the midway point.
The second half went the Lady Lions way thanks to stellar shooting from beyond the arc, however the team still fell at home, 75-65. After only shooting a measly 11.1 percent from downtown, the Lions improved their long-range shooting by knocking down seven 3-pointers while shooting 46.7 percent from 3-point land.
Maggie Lucas led the comeback charge for the Lady Lions, registering 28 of her career-high 33 points in the second half. Lucas shot over 66 percent from long-range in the second-half and drilled six long balls. Her hot-shooting and tenacity electrified the BJC and thoughts of a comeback-win were looming in the air as the Lions cut the deficit to four points twice in the final 3:15 of play.
Unfortunately for Penn State, it could not get anybody else going on the offensive end beside Lucas, who had more than half of the team's points, and the hole that they dug themselves in at halftime was just too insurmountable. The Spartans hit key free-throws down the stretch and were able to hang on to defeat the Lady Lions.
With the loss, the Lady Lions drop to 1-2 in conference play and their Thursday night meeting with Michigan carries even more weight, as the ladies look to win their first conference home game of the season. If the Lions want to remain in contention for a Big Ten crown, a win against Michigan is a must, especially since they sit in eighth position in the current Big Ten standings.
Tip-off for Thursday night's contest is scheduled for 6.