The Lady Lions were almost upset at Northwestern last night but crucial free throws down the stretch secured the 79-75 victory for the Lions.
Five Lady Lions scored in the double digits, with Maggie Lucas leading the way with 19 points and 6 rebounds. Fellow guard Ariel Edwards almost had a double double with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Freshman Peyton Whitted had a career high 11 points and 6 rebounds. Talia East who came up big for the Lions during the ending stretch reached double digits with 11 points and 2 assists. And Dara Taylor was the fifth Lady Lion to reach double digits with 11 points and 5 assists.
The Lady Lions took an early lead 8-5 in the first two minutes of the game. Edwards started the scoring with four points, followed with two points each from East and Tori. The Wildcats quickly responded with a 6-0 run and took an 11-8 lead with more than 15 minutes left in the game.
The Lions then started a 17-2 run started by Kaliyah Mitchell, and East who each had layups. Lucas then scored seven points on a three-point play and four three throws and extended the Lions lead 19-11. Whitted and Edwards then put together consecutive baskets to close out the run and give Penn State a 25-13 lead with nine minutes left in the first half.
The Wildcats quickly responded and scored seven of the next 11 points to make it a nine point game at 29-20. Lucas started the response for Penn State with four straight points. Followed by a pair of free throws from Edwards and Candice Agee had a basket, 37-20. Dara Taylor then had a three and a jumper to finish the Lady Lions 13-2 run and give Penn State a 20 point lead with 3:22 left in the half. The Wildcats ended the half on a positive note a 9-2 run to go into the half with Penn State up 44-31.
The Wildcats came out strong in the second half and went on a 20-7 run to come within four with 9:30 left in the game at 55-51. Lucas led the Lady Lions rally with five straight points followed by a three point play by Whitted to give the Lions a nine point lead.
The Wildcats came back firing and went on a 12-2 run to take a 63-62 lead with less than five minutes to play. The two teams exchanged points but no team could maintain more than a one point lead. This went on for over two minutes before the Wildcats made a three-pointer to give them their biggest lead of the game at 70-66. This lead did not last long and Taylor responded with a three pointer to again bring it back to a one point game.
The Lady Lions kept fighting, East had two free throws and a three-point play to give the Lions a 74-70 lead with 1:15 to play. The Wildcats made another three to again make it a one point game. Edwards was fouled on the ensuing possession and made both free throws to put it back to a three-point lead with 43 seconds left.
The Wildcats went to the free throw line again but only made one of the two attempts,brining it to a two point game. After a timeout, the Lady Lions turned the ball over on the inbounds pass and the Wildcats had two chances to tie the game but both rimed out. Mitchell was fouled while going up for the rebound and made both free throws to seal the 79-75 win.
The Lady Lions improve to 17-4 and 8-1 in the conference. They’re back in action Thursday at home against Iowa at 6 p.m.