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Lady Lions Surrender Second Half Lead, Lose to No. 22 Rutgers

After earning back-to-back conference wins last week to show their first signs of life, the Lady Lions (5-17, 2-9 B1G) dropped their second-straight game on Sunday, falling to No. 22 Rutgers 76-65 in Piscataway.

Lindsey Spann came off the bench to record a team-best 16 points, including three triples, to go along with three assists and a steal. The freshman recorded double figures for the 18th time this season and surpassed the 300-point mark for her career.

Though the Lady Lions found a way to rally from a 9-point halftime deficit to take a late lead, the Scarlet Knights ended the game on a 12-3 run to erase any hope of a comeback.

How It Happened

For the first 10 minutes of the game, neither team could pull ahead by more than three points, with the Lions and Knights trading buckets early. But with Rutgers leading by one, the Scarlet Knights went on an 8-1 run over the next two minutes to establish a 23-15 lead. Spann countered with her first three of the night, but Rutgers went on an 8-2 run to extend its lead to 11 points with just over five minutes left in the half.

Penn State clawed its way back into the game with a 7-2 spurt that closed the gap to six, 33-27, with two minutes left in the opening frame. Again, Rutgers would answer with a strong push of its own, scoring four of the last five points of the half to head into the locker room with a 37-28 lead.

The Lady Lions came out strong in the second half for the second straight game, as four points from Candice Agee, three from Spann, and two from Sierra Moore fueled a 9-3 run to bring Penn State within three, 40-37, with 16:19 remaining. Rutgers would answer on the other end with a bucket of its own to stop the bleeding, but sophomore Peyton Whitted scored on two straight possessions to spark a 10-0 run for the Lady Lions. With 10:45 to play, Penn State held its largest lead of the game, 47-42.

In a back-and-forth contest, the Scarlet Knights countered with an 11-1 run to take a 53-48 lead with 8:23 remaining. Agee scored four of the game’s next six points to slice the Rutgers lead to three, but the Knights rattled off a 7-2 run to extend its lead to 62-54 with 5:45 on the clock.

Two free throws by Spann and a Moore basket sandwiched a score by Rutgers, followed by a layup from Whitted, to pull Penn State within two, 64-62, with just over three minutes to play. But as had been the story for most of the game, Rutgers would withstand Penn State’s punches before dishing out a knockout punch of its own. The Knights went on a 12-3 run to end the game and secure the 76-65 win, handing the Lady Lions a Big Ten-worst 17th loss.

Player of the Game

Lindsey Spann. The freshman continued to provide a strong spark off the bench, knocking down a trio of threes to finish with a team-high 16 points in 34 minutes. While the team finished a chilly 33 percent from three-point land, Spann was 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Tweet of the Game

After fighting to pull within one possession, Penn State faltered down the stretch, allowing Rutgers to cruise to the finish line.

Game Notes

  • The Lady Lions are now 16-8 all-time in games played on Super Bowl Sunday.
  • Four Penn State players scored in double figures for the sixth time this season; Spann (16), Moore (12), Agee (11) and Whitted (11).
  • Penn State out-rebounded Rutgers, 47-43, marking the 13th time this season it outrebounded the opponent. It was the fourth straight game and sixth in the last seven it pulled down more boards then the opposition.

What’s Next?

The Lady Lions return to the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday, Feb. 5 to host Big Ten-leading and fifth-ranked Maryland at 7 p.m. before travelling to Purdue for a 2 p.m. tipoff on Sunday, Feb. 8.

Photo: Mark Selders/GoPSUSports.com

About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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