Penn State Women's Basketball vs Maryland, Sabel (10)

Guard Tova Sabel (10) attempts to grab the ball during Penn State women’s basketball’s game against the University of Maryland on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa. The Terrapins beat the Lady Lions 96-82.

Despite a strong start, Penn State couldn’t finish.

The Lady Lions (3-3, 0-2) played strong throughout the first half, but ultimately fell to No. 14 Maryland 96-82 at home in their second Big Ten game.

Tova Sabel earned her first career start for the Lady Lions, while Maddie Burke and Kelly Jekot led in scoring with 24 and 23 points, respectively.

But the Lady Lions couldn’t find an answer for the Terrapins’ scoring attack as four finished in double figures with Ashley Owusu pouring in a game-high 32 points.

After a chaotic shooting effort by both teams to start the game, Penn State led for most of the first quarter, thanks to two threes from Maddie Burke and holding Maryland to 3-for-14 from the field roughly halfway through the opening 10 minutes.

Kelly Jekot came alive in the second quarter, scoring nine points in the frame and helping keep the game close, but the Terrapins eventually found their stride.

Maryland ended the half with a nine point lead, courtesy of a 9-2 run over the final two and a half minutes and Owusu scoring 18 points over the first half.

Despite giving up 29 fast break points and 17 off of turnovers, Penn State managed to trail by only nine heading into the fourth quarter.

However, the Terrapins shot 71.4% from the field over the final frame to bury the Lady Lions.

Experienced players failed to play consistently

While Penn State returns just three players from last season’s squad, the roster remains full of players with collegiate experience.

With a combination of knowing coach Carolyn Kieger’s system and game-time situations, the Lady Lions shouldn’t be struggling to find production from some of their most experienced players.

Anna Camden, Makenna Marisa and Shay Hagans, the three returners from last season, combined for just 11 points throughout the game.

Jekot found her stride early in the second quarter and finished with a double-double, but Johnasia Cash found herself in foul trouble early in the second half when the Lady Lions were attempting to build a comeback

Burke sees increased role

Maddie Burke played a crucial role in keeping the game close for Penn State.

The freshman finished with a team-leading and career high 24 points, knocking down seven threes while also playing 36 minutes.

Burke also saw her role increase on the defensive end, often being tasked with defending in the post against some of Maryland’s top scorers.

The Doylestown native also played 37 minutes, a career high and tied for most on the team in the game.

Transition play, turnovers hurts Lady Lions

Carolyn Kieger preaches strong and fast play in transition for the Lady Lions.

However, it was Maryland’s transition play that ultimately sank Penn State’s bid for an upset.

The Terrapins scored 33 transition points, mostly due to the Lady Lions not getting back fast enough on defense.

In addition, Penn State turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 24 Maryland points.

Penn State’s lack of communication out of transition both attacking and defending left a lot to be desired and ultimately cost it the game.

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.