Lady Lions Fall To Minnesota At Home, 85-77

On a frigid day in State College, visiting Minnesota came into the Bryce Jordan Center and heated things up from behind the arc.

Poor defensive communication caused Penn State to cough up a second half lead and the Lady Lions couldn’t work their way back, falling to Minnesota 85-77 in the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday. Sierra Moore and Tori Waldner led the way for Penn State scoring 17 and 16 points respectively, but it wasn’t enough against the Gophers’ balanced offense. Minnesota’s Shae Kelley led all scorers with 23 points.

How It Happened

The Lady Lions got out to an early 9-8 lead, but went cold and quickly found themselves in a double digit hole. They managed to claw back with an 11-4 run beginning around the eight-minute mark, capitalizing on a couple of Minnesota turnovers and working on the boards.

After cutting the Minnesota lead to three points, Penn State’s offense cooled off again. The Lady Lions missed their last eight field goal attempts of the half, but managed to keep it close, ending the first half down 33-28.

The Lady Lions came out focused on both ends of the court in the second half. Waldner nailed a jumper and got fouled with three minutes into the half. The and-one gave Penn State a 38-37 tilt. The game would remain tightly contested through the first 10 minutes of the half as the Lady Lions locked in defensively and relied on Moore to create offense. However, after the Lions took a 58-57 lead, Minnesota found its stroke from behind the arc.

The Gophers went 8-for-12 from three-point territory in the second half, and following the game, Moore pointed to a lack of communication leading to defensive breakdowns.

“When we were communicating and we talk everybody knows what place they’re supposed to be in and everything just flows,” Moore said. “When we’re just silent, nobody knows where to go and that’s when they get open shots.”

In one especially costly sequence, Minnesota’s Shayne Mullaney knocked down a three-pointer and on Penn State’s next trip down the court, Kaliyah Mitchell had the ball stolen and Carlie Wagner turned the steal into a transition layup to make it 78-67.

A jumper by Kelley with just under a minute gave Minnesota an 81-72 lead and officially put the game out of reach.

Player Of The Game

Shae Kelley was too much to handle for Penn State’s defense earning her points inside and on the free throw line. She went 8-of-19 from the floor, but 7-of-9 at the stripe for her 23. She also grabbed eight rebounds including two crucial boards off of the offensive glass.

Stat Of The Game

The Gophers went 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) from behind the arc, compared to just four three-pointers for Penn State. Mullaney went 5-of-6 from deep for a career-high 18 points and Wagner knocked down four treys of her own.

Game Notes 

Penn State falls to 6-20 on the year and 3-12 in the Big Ten. Penn State scored more field goals than Minnesota, but the barrage of threes made the difference.

What’s Next 

With just three games remaining on the regular season schedule, Penn State will try to nab a win on the road against Maryland next Monday.

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