Lady Lions rally in home opening win over Providence
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State women’s basketball team outscored Providence 23-9 in the fourth quarter to erase a 15-point second-half deficit and capture a thrilling 74-72 season-opening victory Thursday evening at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Lady Lions trailed 59-44 with 2:30 to play in the third quarter. Penn State was able to pull back within six heading into the final two minutes of the game before ending the contest on an 8-0 run.
Sophomore Sam Breen played hero as she hit a pair of game-winning free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining to cap a strong nine-point second-half effort. Senior Amari Carter scored eight points in the fourth-quarter comeback and finished the night with a team-best 15.
Five Lady Lions finished in double-figures in the balanced scoring attack. Senior Teniya Page and sophomore Alisia Smith tallied 13 apiece, while sophomore Kamaria McDaniel (12) and junior Siyeh Frazier (10) followed.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The teams traded slim leads early on in the first quarter before the score was knotted at 18-18 just over six minutes into the game. Providence then rattled off a 12-3 run to close the opening quarter and take a 30-21 advantage through the first 10 minutes. The Friars were aided by a 6-for-9 showing from three-point range in the first term.
Penn State turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, limiting the Friars to just two points in the opening six minutes of the stanza, but the Lady Lions weren’t able to find an offensive rhythm either as the score stood at 32-25 at the four-minute mark. The Friars made their next two baskets to up the lead to 38-27 with 2:43 to play in the first half.
A three-pointer from Page followed to spark a 9-2 half-closing run for the Lady Lions. Junior Siyeh Frazier added a fast-break layup before senior Amari Carter drained a three with nine seconds left on the clock to pull PSU within 40-36 at the break.
Providence scored nine of the second half’s first 11 points to pull back in front by 11 at 49-38 less than two minutes into the half.
The Friar edge reached 15 at 59-44, but five-straight points from Breen were followed by a pair of Page free throws to comprise a 7-2 Lady Lion run. Providence banked in a last-second jumper to take a 63-51 lead into the final quarter.
A Providence layup opened the fourth term, but Penn State’s senior leadership stepped up big time to help the Lady Lions answer with a 13-2 run. A conventional three-point play from Page was followed by a Smith layup and eight points from Carter to pull Penn State all the way within three at 67-64 with 4:24 left on the clock.
The Friars stretched their lead back to six at 72-66 at the 1:56 mark, but it was all Penn State the rest of the way. McDaniel converted a pair of free throw attempts before a Breen defensive rebound and layup brought PSU within two at 72-70.
Page hit the game-tying jumper with 36 seconds left on the clock to knot the score at 72-72. Frazier came up with a huge steal on Providence’s ensuing possession to give Penn State the ball back with three seconds to play.
A layup attempt rolled off the rim, but Breen was there to collect the offensive board and draw a foul with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
Breen hit both free throw attempts to put Penn State in front 74-72 and cap off her nine-point night.
Providence took a timeout to inbound the ball past half-court and nearly forced overtime, but an officials’ review ruled that the shot clock had expired to cement the 74-72 Penn State victory.
Penn State outscored Providence 23-9 in the fourth quarter and closed the game on a 30-13 run in the final 12:29 of the contest.
The Lady Lions were 5-for-5 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and finished the game 78.9 percent (15-for-19) from the charity stripe.
Penn State controlled a dominant 46-28 rebound edge. Smith and Breen led the team with seven boards apiece.
The Lady Lions held a 17-10 edge in fast-break points.
McDaniel dished a team-best four assists.
This marks the first time that Penn State rallied from a 15-point deficit to win in six years. The last time the Lady Lions erased a 15-point deficit was on Nov. 24, 2012 in an 85-73 win at Cal State Northridge. Penn State trailed by 17 with 5:52 left in the first half in that game.
Five Lady Lions finished in double figures for the first time since Jan. 3, 2018 against Indiana.
With the win, head coach Coquese Washington collects her 198th career victory. She needs just two more to reach the 200-win milestone.
Penn State improves to 11-1 in season openers under Washington.
The Lady Lions are now 28-6 in the Bryce Jordan Center dating back to the start of the 2016-17 season.
Penn State is 6-0 all-time against Providence.
Breen’s game-winning free throws marked the first time a Lady Lion scored game-winning points with less than 10 seconds to play since Teniya Page did so on Jan. 18, 2018 against Rutgers.
Breen’s nine points and seven rebounds were both career highs.
Head Coach Coquese Washington
“Well we wanted to start the season off with the most exciting win we could possibly have. I was really pleased with the effort we had, in particular in the fourth quarter defensively. We had some big stops when we needed them. We got some big buckets when we needed them. I thought in the fourth quarter in particular we made some pretty big free throws down the stretch.”
“I thought we showed a lot of poise down the stretch, in particular some of our younger players showed a lot of poise. We’re just going to continue to grow. We’re going to continue to develop our chemistry with this team and how we’re going to play.”
The Lady Lions remain home to host #24/RV California Sunday in a key non-conference battle.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center.