The third-seed Penn State Lady Lions are advancing to the second round of the NCAA but not before receiving a scare of lifetime from 14th-seed Wichita State. The Lady Lions improve to 18-5 in NCAA tournament games at the Bryce Jordan Center with a 62-56 victory over the Shockers on March 23.
Down 35-30 at halftime, Penn State (23-7) wretched up their defense and held Wichita State (26-7) scoreless for the first 7:30 minutes of the second half. The Lady Lions, behind the play of Maggie Lucas, outscored the Shockers 16-0 during the run and take a 42-30 lead at the 14:02 mark. Michaela Drappich finally got Wichita State on a three-pointer at 12:15 mark. The Shockers were 0-of-8 from the field and committed two turnovers during this stretch.
Wichita State wouldn’t go away. The Shockers closed the deficit to within 50-45 on a long three-pointer by Alie Decker with 5:42 to go in the game. But Ariel Edwards put the Lady Lions backup by nine (54-49) with a jumper and a layup.
The pesky Shockers kept battling and got within two points twice down the stretch but each time Penn State had an answer. Following a Drappich triple to bring Wichita State to with 56-54 with 1:52 remaining, Lucas, after using some fancy dribbling to avoid a Shocker’s trap off a ball screen, dumped the ball into Talia East who scored a lay-up and foul.
Following East’s free throw miss, Edwards was called for a loose ball foul sending Alex Harden to the line. Harden calmly drilled both shots to again bring the Shockers within two. Lucas then missed a three-pointer and the officials initially indicated Wichita State ball but after reviewing the call on the monitor, gave the ball to the Lady Lions.
East secured Penn State’s advancement to the second round after tipping in a Dara Taylor missed layup. Lucas, who scored a game-high 22 points, closed the scoring out with two charity stripe makes. Lucas finished the game 8-of-18 from the field, including 3-of-8 beyond the three-point line. She also grabbed nine caroms and had two assists as well as two steals.
Edwards added 17 points while East posted her fifth double-double of the campaign with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Drappich, who knocked down five three-pointers, led Wichita State with 19 points and Harden chipped in with 16 points.
Penn State, the best rebounding team in the Big 10, hit the boards hard grabbing four offensive boards in the first two minutes of the game. Three of which were by Tori Waldner and one by Ariel Edwards, who scored the game’s first points by hitting 1-of-2 free throws.
The Nittany Lions came out strong defensively, holding the Shockers scoreless in the first two minutes and forcing a 30-second shot clock violation. Penn State held a 5-0 lead before Jamillah Bonner got Wichita State on the board with a jumper at the 17:09. The Lady Lions took a 7-2 lead heading into the first media timeout.
Wichita State came out of the break with renewed vigor and clamped down defensively. The Shockers held the Lady Lions scoreless over the next 7:06 to take a 16-9 lead heading into the third official timeout at the 8:22 mark. During Wichita State’s 14-2 spurt, Penn State committed five turnovers and most were self inflicted – bad passes and an offensive foul.
Dapprich drilled a three-pointer to put the Shockers up 23-13 with 4:53 remaining in the half. However, Lucas had an answer scoring eight of the Lady Lions next 10 to bring Penn State with 24-23 2:29 left.
Wichita State closed the half on a 6-2 run and took a 30-25 lead into the break.
Check back later for more stories about the Wichita State-Penn State game as well as Dayton-Florida first round contest.