Lady Lions Take Down Holy Cross Crusaders In Overtime Thriller
The Lady Lions opened up the season in the Bryce Jordan Center with a matchup against the Holy Cross Crusaders of the Patriot League. The game was the first game of the regular season, ushering in slight rule adjustments enacted by the NCAA. The new changes affect timeouts, largely impacting the game’s flow with four quarters instead of two halves. The Lady Lions played physical, fast, and with an edgy resilience that, despite two major comebacks by the crusaders, carried them to an overtime victory.
How It Happened
From the first tip, the Nittany Lions came out firing on all cylinders defensively. Pressuring passers and crowding passing lanes, along with changing shots inside with the likes of two talented bigs, the Nittany Lions played physical, and never lacked in effort or intensity. Where the Nittany Lions did struggle was in the communication and execution departments.
The Lady Lions took advantage of open opportunities, hitting outside open looks at a solid rate of 44 percent, and held the opponent to a much lower percentage of only 25 percent. The team had spurts of dominance with its ability to jump into passing lanes and hit a high number of fast break points. The Lady Lions headed into the locker room after a steady first half performance which allowed them to hold a 38-34 lead, but the team certainly had room for improvement in the second half.
The focal point of the second half was the offensive play of Peyton Whited. Her first half performance was, in a word, lackluster. After missing shots, misplacing passes, turning the ball over, she came out of the locker room with a fire that her position coach lit for her. She scored 2o points in the second half, grabbed boards, and played smarter on both sides of the ball. While the team played at a high level, it couldn’t properly piece together the ability to maintain a lead. The team gave up 36 points to Raquel Scott.
Too quick for bigs and too strong for the guards, Scott gave the Nittany Lions matchup issues all over the floor. The Lady Lions displayed a strong resiliency through this adversity, though. With three freshmen playing, the team is still in the developmental stages of mentality and chemistry, but the resolve they showed to not concede showcased their mental toughness and unrelenting effort that coach Washington loves. Through a series of back and forth struggles, a high volume of fouls, the Crusaders bounced back and sent the game into overtime.
The extra period featured a back and forth contest as Holy Cross refused to give in. Gibbons wasn’t disappointed with the play of his team, because the unit came out and battled for four quarters and extra time. In the end, through a long series of fouling and clutch free throws, the Lady Lions put the Crusaders away 86-82.
Player Of The Game
Player of the Game honors go to Brianna Banks. While Peyton Whited’s bounce back performance from the first half was commendable, Banks played the most complete game every minute she was on the court. She took a hard hit in the first quarter to the knee, but came back and battled on both ends of the floor. She plays very fast, and with a defensive urgency that will make any opposing coach sweat. Not only did she perform defensively, she was performing on the offensive side, hitting threes and sending home fast break layups. Her play set the tone for the rest of the team, and she figures to emerge as a strong leader on the court.
Next, the Lady Lions will take on Fordham on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.