Lady Lions Upset No. 25 Rutgers 70-67 In Happy Valley
Penn State (12-8, 3-4) withstood a furious rally by No. 25 Rutgers (17-4, 5-2) to capture its best win of the season, winning by three points in dramatic fashion on Thursday night.
The Lady Lions relied heavily on junior guard Teniya Page, who exploded for 34 points and seemingly toyed with Rutgers’ defense all night long. It was her biggest scoring outburst of the season, and was the main factor in Penn State fighting off the Scarlet Knights’ late scoring run.
How It Happened
The first quarter was relatively back and forth, with the Lady Lions holding a two point lead after ten minutes. Teniya Page and Amari Carter combined to score 15 of the team’s 19 points in the quarter, with Siyeh Frazier and De’Janae Boykin chipping in with one basket each.
Penn State failed to make a three pointer in the opening frame as well, going 0-7. They did end the period emphatically, however, going on an 8-2 run to put some pressure on Rutgers.
The next quarter started off just how the last one ended — with a bang. Page continued to light it up by hitting the Lions’ first three of the game with a four-point play. The junior was a blistering 7-11 at the half, leading all players in scoring with 19. Other than Page, the Lady Lion’s were paced mostly by Carter and Travascio-Green, as the rest of the squad only scored five points on 2-9 shooting.
Jaida Travascio-Green did heat up at the end of the half, scoring the team’s last eight points after shooting poorly in the first quarter from beyond the arc. Neither team shot better than 39%, but Page’s aggressive play helped give Penn State an eight point lead. Although she almost single-handedly carried the team on the offensive end, Page and the Lady Lions played great defense too forcing ten turnovers to keep the upset bid brewing.
As the second half began, Rutgers started to claw back into the game. The Scarlet Knights hit three layups as part of a 6-0 run, cutting the lead to four. But Teniya Page refused to give Rutgers any hope, scoring on back-to-back-to-back posessions as her point total ballooned to 25.
From there, some of the supporting cast decided to step up. Page found Boykin cutting off the inbound for an easy layup, before Alisia Smith hit two free throws less than a minute later. The Lady Lions struggled mightily to keep Rutgers out of the paint, as the Knights scored six of their seven baskets off layups in the third quarter. Penn State managed to close another quarter well, this time with a three by Travascio-Green with just under five seconds remaining.
With a nine point lead headed into the fourth, the Lady Lions went to their go-to scorer. Page hit a deep, contested three in the face of a defender and then a mid-range jumper, hitting the 30-point mark for the sixth time in her career.
The Scarlet Knights wouldn’t go away though, going on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to four with 2:30 left in the game. Travascio-Green and Rutgers’ Khadaizha Sanders traded three-pointers, but then the full court press really started to bother Penn State. They committed two consecutive turnovers which led to baskets, the second one resulting in an and-one, which made it the first lead of the game for Rutgers since it was 17-15 in the first quarter.
That’s when the game came down to Page. Off a sideline inbound, with Penn State down two with just over five seconds remaining, Page pulled up and was fouled. Moments later Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was called for a technical foul for arguing the call, giving Page five total foul shots. Page calmly sunk four of five thereafter, preserving a three point upset for the Lady Lions.
Player Of The Game
Teniya Page | Junior | Guard
Page had her best game of the season thus far, hitting 12 of 19 shots for 34 points, one off her career high. She could have hit the 40-point mark if some of her three-pointers didn’t rim out, but other than that she made her scoring look easy.
Her biggest moment came in the waning seconds of the game, as she hit four of five free throws to give the Lady Lions the victory. Three of those came from her drawing a foul on Rutgers guard Nigia Greene, which proved to be the difference.
The Lady Lions will have another home game at the Bryce Jordan Center against Illinois on Tuesday, January 23. The Illini will come to State College losers of seven straight, so expect Page to try and duplicate her performance and extend Penn State’s win streak to three. The matchup is at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcasted on BTN Plus.