Penn State has struggled in close games all season, but it took a big step towards changing that narrative on Wednesday.
The Lady Lions were 3-6 in games decided by 10 points or less heading into their contest against No. 25 Rutgers. However, this time they were able to prevail in a tight game, besting the Scarlet Knights 70-67 at the Bryce Jordan Center behind last second free throws from Teniya Page.
With the win, Penn State improves to 12-8 on the season and 3-4 in Big Ten conference play. This is also the eighth home victory of the season for the Lady Lions, which brings their home record to 8-2 for the campaign.
The first 20 games of the season in general have been a tale of two halves for Penn State as the Lady Lions got off to an impressive 8-2 start, before falling in six of their next ten games.
Leading the way for the Lady Lions was the guard tandem of Teniya Page and Amari Carter.
Page played like the reigning All-Big Ten guard that she is, leading all scores with a season-high 34 points on 12-19 shooting, while her backcourt partner added 10 points and three rebounds of her own.
The game started off a positive note for Penn State as both teams traded buckets in the first quarter before the Lady Lions closed the quarter on an 8-2 run and held a 19-17 advantage on the visitors.
The second period was one that the Lady Lions controlled from start to finish. Penn State scored 11 of the first 17 points in the frame and held Rutgers scoreless in the final five minutes to take a 37-28 lead into the half.
One thing that Penn State did well throughout the game was force Rutgers into mistakes and capitalize on the sloppy play from the visitors, to the tune of 17 points off turnovers for the home side.
The third quarter turned out to be the pivotal period in the game as Penn State’s defensive intensity carried over into the second half and so did the hot shooting of Teniya Page.
The Lady Lions were able to keep Rutgers’ offense in check for the majority of the quarter, and Page scored seven of the 15 Penn State points in the frame to preserve a nine point lead for Penn State heading into the fourth quarter.
The final quarter of play didn’t pass without its fair share of drama.
Penn State looked to be in control of things early on in the frame, but Rutgers eventually went on an 14-2 run to take the lead at 65-64, and again at 67-66.
However, the Lady Lions were not to be denied as Teniya Page was fouled on a three-point attempt and sunk a trio of free throws to give the Lady Lions the win.