Having lost eight of its last nine games and being without two regular starters, all the odds were against a Penn State team that has struggled all season.
But the Lady Lions, who were missing star point guard Teniya Page and leading rebounder Alisia Smith, came out with one of their best performances of the year to beat Purdue 72-61 in its penultimate home game of the season.
“I thought we came out with a high level of intensity,” coach Coquese Washington said. “Playing a little short handed without Teniya and [Alisia Smith] but I thought it was an opportunity for other people to step up and take advantage of the opportunity.”
Lauren Ebo and Jaida Travascio-Green started in place of Smith and Page, and the makeshift starting lineup came out of the gates with a newfound energy.
Team defense was clearly an emphasis for Penn State in this one as it dominated that end of the floor, forcing turnovers and getting stops at a high rate.
“I thought we just really played together as a team,” Washington said. “That was one thing we kind of talked about all week coming into this game.”
Siyeh Frazier and Amari Carter led things on the offensive end of the floor, each having their best individual scoring performances of the season.
Carter, who ran the point in place of Page, put up 18 points while Frazier finished with a career high 18 points as well.
“It was just a matter of staying locked in all forty minutes and executing the game plan.” Carter said.
Travascio-Green was also very influential on the offensive end of the floor, especially with her three point shooting. Travascio-Green made a team high three threes on the night on seven attempts and finished with 14 points total.
“[Travascio-Green] is very important, she definitely adds an element to the team that’s a big piece, being able to stretch the floor,” Washington said. “Towards the end of the game in the fourth quarter Purdue went man and having her to stretch the defense out gave us lanes to the basket.”
Four different Lady Lions tallied double digit points in this game, and everyone who saw the floor added a positive contribution even with a short rotation.
“It speaks volumes about our preparation,” Washington said. “To be honest we really didn’t do much different, it was just that people were locked in and knew that we had to come ready and I think they were ready to play and I think they were ready to execute the game plan.”
Penn State opened up the game playing some of its best basketball it has during its losing streak.
The starting five that took the floor had an energy and intensity about it that led to the Lady Lions forcing six turnovers in the opening 10 minutes.
Penn State’s offense was also very efficient in the opening quarter, especially from the three point line, which has not been the story for most of the season. The team knocked down three of six of its threes in the quarter and held a four point lead heading into the second.
The Lady Lions picked up right where they left off to start the second quarter when Jaida-Travascio Green hit a three pointer in transition after a solid defensive stop.
Travascio-Green would go on to make another three pointer in the quarter and tally nine total first half points, the most in the half by any player.
Penn State forced four more turnovers in the second quarter and extended its lead to seven points as both sides went to the locker rooms for the half.
Amari Carter came out of the half looking to score. As the shot clock ran down under five seconds on the first possession of the third quarter Carter stepped into a three pointer about three feet beyond the arc and drained it.
Carter’s deep three was followed up by a steal by Siyeh Frazier that led to a three point play on the other end and just like that, the Lady Lions found themselves up double digits in the early parts of the third.
Frazier was a problem for Purdue on both ends of the court for the third quarter, causing havoc with her on ball defense and scoring with ease at the offensive end.
“I believe I played pretty good defense,” Frazier said. “A lot of it came from the help of my teammates though, especially talking on screens and having my back in help off the dribble.”
The quarter ended and Penn State held a nine point lead that it took into the final 10 minutes.
The Lady Lions continued their impressive play into the fourth where they held the Boilermakers to just 5-16 shooting and saw the game out relatively easily.
Offensively, Penn State was extremely efficient in the final quarter of play, shooting 71 percent from the field.
The win snaps a six game losing streak for the Lady Lions and marks their fourth win in conference play.
Penn State will travel to Illinois on Sunday for its third to last game of the season as the Big Ten Tournament approaches.