The No. 1 Lady Lions were upset yesterday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, losing to No. 8 Ohio State 99-82. After coming off of a regular season Big Ten Championship, this was a shock to the Lady Lions but head coach Coquese Washington was optimistic about the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
“The good thing is we’ve got a little bit of time off to regroup and get ready for the NCAA Tournament,” she said.
The seniors stepped up for the Lady Lions but it wasn’t enough. Guard Ariel Edwards played the best game of her season with 29 points and 10 rebounds, her fifth career double-double. Maggie Lucas became the Big Ten and Penn State career leader in three-pointers, brining her total to 358 triples. She finished the game with 21 points and six rebounds. Guard Dara Taylor also reached double digits with 14 points, surpassing the 800-point mark for her collegiate career.
The Buckeyes started the game off hot, and in the first nine minutes lead 30-18, going 8-for-10 from the field over that period. The Lady Lions tried to rally with a 6-2 run, started by Taylor and Kaliyah Mitchell, to bring the Lady Lions within eight, 32-24. Ohio State responded and over the next eight minutes extended the lead to 53-30.
Edwards tried to respond for Penn State before the half, scoring four consecutive points to make it a 53-34 game, but Ohio State fired off a rapid five points to go into the half with a seemingly insurmountable 58-34 lead.
The Buckeyes came out firing in the second and extended their lead to 69-43 with just 16 minutes to play, hitting on just over 70 percent of field goals and three-pointers. The Lady Lions scored the game’s next seven points thanks to buckets from Talia East, Taylor and a free throw by Edwards. That brought them within 19, 69-50 with 13:48 left in the game, but they couldn’t fend off the Buckeyes who poured in six straight to push the lead back to 25.
The Lady Lions tried to start yet another comeback, and went on a 9-0 run with two-free throws by Mitchell, followed by buckets from Edwards and Taylor. Lucas capped the run with a three-point play to make it 75-59 Ohio State with less than eight minutes to play.
The Buckeyes pushed their lead back to 20, 81-61 and held it there until Penn State made their last final push with three-minutes left to make it a nine-point game. The Lady Lions had seven uncontested points by Lucas followed by two free throws by Edwards. That is as close as the Lady Lions would get as the Buckeyes would seal the win with free throws down the stretch, winning 99-82.
Penn State will host the first and second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 23 and 25.