Lady Lions Comeback Effort Falls Short, Once Again
The Penn State Lady Lions now sit alone at the bottom of the Big Ten conference as their comeback effort fell short, once again, losing 74-67 to the Michigan State Spartans Wednesday evening at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Spartans (12-13, 4-10 Big Ten) came connecting on all cylinders. A three-pointer by Anna Morrissey gave them an early 17-5 lead within the first six minutes of play, and the Spartans knocked down six of their first seven shots while forcing four turnovers.
Freshman guard Lindsey Spann looked to singlehandedly carry the Lady Lions (6-19, 3-11 Big Ten) to victory, sparking the team in her new role off the bench. Spann finished the night with 13 points, moving her two spots up to No. 8 on Penn State’s single-season freshman scoring list with 359 points total on the campaign. She chipped in career-highs in both assists and rebound with seven of each.
Spann was not enough however, as Aerial Powers dominated the entire court—including three blocks on Spann. Tonight was a milestone night for Powers as she tallied her 1,000th point, in just her sophomore season. She came in leading the Spartans in points, assists, rebounds and steals and her full arsenal was on display as she put up 26 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists.
“Aerial’s a tough one to stop, honestly,” said Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant. “She’s a tough matchup, she can shoot threes, pull up, gets to the rim, she can post.”
“She’s the fastest Spartan to ever get to 1,000 points … but she doesn’t even care. She’s the best team player you’ll ever have.”
Powers downplayed the feat, focusing on the team’s accomplishment rather than her own.
“I wasn’t thinking about it,” she said. “I was more thinking about our win because we needed one.”
The Lady Lions trailed by as many as 14 early in the second half, but a 15-4 run capped with a three-pointer by Keke Sevillian knotted the game at 57 with 9:45 remaining.
The game was for the taking, but aggressive play from Powers and Tori Jankoska, who combined for 15 points and 11 rebounds over the next nine minutes, sealed the victory, despite missing eight free throws in that same stretch.
Jankoska finished the game with a double-double after a game-high 18 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Anna Morrissey contributed 11 points, three rebounds and three assists off the bench for the Spartans.
Penn State head coach Coquese Washington expressed her disappointment in her team for letting another close game slip away.
“At this point in the season, I want to see more consistency with our team,” said Washington. “I’m disappointed in the way that we played to get down so much.”
Penn State’s second half defense was effective as they held the Spartans to 32 percent shooting, but the team missed several layups and free throws that impeded their comeback bid.
“We were a better team in the second half defensively,” added Washington. “We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had on the offensive end.”
“We had plenty of opportunities to continue to break their back defensively, and we just didn’t convert … you’ve got to convert those.”
They finished shooting 50 percent from the free throw line. Washington’s message was clear on what she expects from the Lady Lions, who have been working on that issue in practice: “They need to take more.”
The Lady Lions will return to action Sunday afternoon hosting the Minnesota Gophers with a 2 p.m. tipoff on ComRadio.
Marley Paul is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact him, email mdp5300.psu.edu.
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