Penn State (18-8, 8-6 Big Ten) defeated Illinois 80-62 behind 15 points from redshirt junior Lindsey Spann off the bench for its fourth-straight win and second-consecutive road victory after opening the Big Ten slate 0-5 away from the Bryce Jordan Center.
Illinois (8-18, 3-10 Big Ten) struggled with Penn State in a 82-66 loss toward the beginning of the Lady Lions’ current 7-2 stretch, and its depth wasn’t enough Tuesday to contain the surging team.
How It Happened
The Lady Lions got off to a blindingly fast start on the road against the Illini. Starting the game on a 15-0 run, which included a pair of three’s from Spann and four points from Sierra Moore, Penn State ran Illinois off of the floor in the first quarter with a 24-8 lead heading into the second.
That strong first quarter was really all the Lady Lions needed. With pretty even play between the two teams through the rest of the way, Penn State used strong performances across the board to hold off the Illini.
Coach Coquese Washington continued the trend of giving seniors Peyton Whitted and Kaliyah Mitchell more time on the floor, while starting center Ashanti Thomas’ minutes were limited. It paid off as Mitchell nearly finished with another double-double — recording 11 points and nine rebounds.
With a 38-18 lead at halftime, Penn State continued to grind out the Illini in the second half despite a fourth quarter push from the hosts. After starting the final period of play on an 11-4 run to cut the deficit to 15, Illinois kind of fizzled out down the stretch without the depth to keep up with the Lady Lions.
The lack of depth was an issue throughout the game. While three Illini were forced to play an absurd 37+ minutes of the 40-minute game, the Lady Lions managed to get seven players with at least 15 minutes on the floor.
Depth ruled the day for Penn State with four players — Mitchell, Spann, Moore, and Teniya Page — in double figures and three players — Mitchell, Spann, and Page — each recording a team-high nine rebounds. The Lady Lions took down the Illini for the second time this season, 80-62.
Player Of The Game
Kaliyah Mitchell | Forward | Senior
After being a starter at the beginning of the season, Mitchell has been forced to come off the bench for most of the Lady Lions’ recent action. She’s been key in that role, though, continuously gaining more minutes for herself.
Against Illinois, the senior was just one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds — getting 27 minutes on the floor, about five more than her average 22.3 per game this season.
Penn State eyes its fifth win in a row and third-straight away victory when it wraps up this season’s road slate against Michigan State next Wednesday, February 22. The Lady Lions’ clash with the Spartans tips off at 7 p.m. in the Breslin Student Events Center.