No. 12 Lady Lions Upset By South Dakota State
After winning five of their first seven games of the season, with both losses coming against No. 1 Connecticut and No. 4 Notre Dame, the Lady Lions looked poised to string together a few wins over weak non-conference opponents before entering Big Ten play. So when the 12th-ranked Lady Lions traveled to South Dakota to take on the Jackrabbits, it looked like Penn State was going to walk away with an easy victory.
But as the old saying goes, that’s why they play the game.
The Lady Lions lost a heartbreaker to South Dakota State in Brookings, SD on Wednesday night, falling to the Jackrabbits 83-79. Steph Paluch and Megan Waytashek led the way for SDSU, scoring a combined 36 points. Penn State’s Ariel Edwards scored a career-high 24 points, shooting 9-of-12 from the floor while adding seven rebounds, four blocks, four steals, and two assists.
Penn State trailed by 20 at the halftime break, thanks in large part to the Jacks’ hot shooting. SDSU shot 51.4 percent from the field in the first half, including a torrid 50 percent from beyond the arc. The Lady Lions mounted a furious comeback in the second half, including a 21-7 run that cut the lead to nine with 9:34 left to play.
After SDSU countered with an 8-3 run of their own, Penn State torched the Jacks with an 16-3 sprint to make it a one-point game, 78-77, with 1:17 left. To use another sports cliche, it was a whole new ball game. Unfortunately for the Lady Lions, back-to-back buckets by South Dakota State pushed the lead to 81-77, and after an Edwards layup, Paluch added two late free throws to seal the upset win.
The victory marked South Dakota State’s second win over a ranked opponent in the last two seasons after defeating No. 15 Nebraska in 2012. The No. 12 Lady Lions were the highest ranked opponent the Jackrabbits have ever beaten.
South Dakota State out rebounded the Lions 53-42, leading to 21 second=chance points to Penn State’s ten. The Jacks bench outscored the Lions 23-8, including eight points from Clarissa Ober.
Senior guard Dara Taylor added a personal-best 19 points to go along with five assists and two steals, while Tori Waldner posted eight points, nine rebounds, and two blocks. Maggie Lucas scored 20 points for the 51st time of her career and made a three pointer for the 44th straight game, extending her own school record.
The Lady Lions will open up a three-game homestand when they face No. 24 Texas A&M on Sunday at 2 p.m. Penn State follows that with a pair of games against Alcorn State and Harford before traveling to Iowa City to kick off the Big Ten schedule against the Hawkeyes on January 5.