The No. 3 seeded Lady Lions seniors’ performances seemed fitting for their last game at the Bryce Jordan Center, as they carried the team to victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament, defeating No. 11 seeded Florida 83-61.
Dara Taylor had arguably the best game of her career with a high in points (22) and rebounds (8). Maggie Lucas also had 22 points, which pushed her past the 2,500 career point mark, making her only the second Lady Lion to accomplish that feat. Ariel Edwards had 18 points, the most of her career in an NCAA Tournament game.
It was a slow start for both teams, but Penn State went on a 13-2 run to take a 17-4 lead early in the game. The defense for the Lions ignited the run, forcing five turnovers for 11 points. After the run, the two teams traded baskets for the next ten minutes of the half, and despite Florida making a dent in the lead, Penn State was on top going into halftime, 43-32.
The Lady Lions started the second half strong. Edwards canned a jumper, which was followed by a layup by Taylor to make the score 47-32. Florida looked like it was trying to start a comeback with 18 minutes left in the half, but the Lions went on a 13-2 run and thwarted any chance of the Gators pulling the upset. Penn State was able to expanded its lead to as many as 28 points, which was a game high. Penn State would stay in control for most of the half and won easily by 22 points, 83-61.
The Lady Lions will travel to Palo Alto, Calif. to take on No. 2 seeded Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen. The game is scheduled to tip off at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 30. It is the 13th time in program history that Penn State has made it this far in the NCAA tournament.
“Tonight, I think they were really focused on executing the game plan. It wasn’t about history. It wasn’t about the future. It was about this is what we have to do to win this game tonight,” coach Coquese Washington said. “They have done that all season long. They’ve done a really good job of being focused. I think because we did that, tonight was a night we were able to have everything flowing and click together.”
“I will start thinking about Stanford tomorrow, but today is about Penn State.”