Penn State basketball: Lady Lions drop Alcorn State

For the CDTDecember 23, 2013 

— Penn State’s women’s basketball team was looking to emerge from Sunday’s 85-62 rout of Alcorn State with more experience, added consistency and another victory.

Going 2 for 3 was enough to satisfy Lady Lion coach Coquese Washington.

Dara Taylor scored 20 points — the first 20-point game of her career — and Maggie Lucas added 19 as Penn State (8-3) outplayed an undersized and overmatched Alcorn State team at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Lady Lions’ freshman class of six played exactly 35 percent of the game.

The game was a little choppy and performances inconsistent when you include 41 turnovers — 20 by Penn State — and referees’ whistles that led to a combined 56 free throws, but consider the bulk of the goals met.

“We did get a chance to play a lot of our young kids and get them some experience,” Washington said. “They sorely needed to be out there and play and sense what it feels like to play.

“That contributed to the ebbs and flows of the game.”

Penn State jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never trailed. Ariel Edwards scored 10 points and Tori Waldner contributed with 10 rebounds, eight on defense.

Washington said it was difficult for the Lady Lions to stay consistent because of constant stoppage for trips to the free throw line.

“I’m not passing judgment on any of the whistles at all, but there were a lot of whistles and it was hard to get into a rhythm and hard to get into a flow,” she said. “But the experience that our young kids got is going to be valuable.

“We have a lot of things we can get better at,” she said. “We’re making steps but we have a lot of steps yet to make and we have to develop a level of consistency.”

Two of the more consistent Penn State players — Lucas and Taylor — had big days from different perspectives. Lucas was 11 for 11 from the foul line to up her NCAA-leading free throw shooting percentage to 97.4 and Taylor was 9 for 12 from the field.

“It doesn’t feel any different than any other game,” Taylor said about her career-best scoring effort.

“My shot felt good. I found some easy looks in transition and pretty much after my first two shots I knew I was going to shoot the ball pretty decent.”

Taylor played 29 minutes — three more than Lucas — and at one point was on the floor with four freshmen.

“We did some good things in transition and we got everybody involved,” Taylor said. “A lot of people got playing time today.”

Kaliyah Mitchel scored seven points and had three rebounds and Peyton Whitted tallied six and pulled down four rebounds to pace the young crew’s on-the-job training.

Jenny DeGraaf, Infniti Altson, Alex Harris and Keke Sevillian also earned substantial playing time.

The overall playing experience for Alcorn State might not have been good, but it wasn’t bad for the Lady Braves, either, coach Tonya Edwards said.

“When you’re playing Penn State and you come into a facility and they’re ranked in the country, that’s intimidating within itself,” she said.

“It was a good experience for our young ladies to see what it’s like and go against one of the top 25 teams in the country. I guess we all saw the size difference was huge and you really have to stick to your basics.”

Penn State outrebounded Alcorn State 47-33, including 20-12 on offense.

“Overall I thought our young ladies competed,” Edwards said.

In particular was Tierro Frost, who scored 29 points against Penn State.

Aside from Frost, the Lady Braves do not have a bench-full of talent. They fell to 1-9 and Sunday’s 62-point output was eight more than they’ve scored in any game all season.

Their first five 3-point shots were air balls, and Penn State’s size advantage forced them to put up more than a few wild, misdirected shots toward the rim.

That created more than a few loose-ball scrambles, one of which prompted Penn State assistant coach Fred Chmiel to let out a scream of “Get on the floor,” during a battle for a ball near the Lady Lions’ bench.

“We talk about that in practice all the time,” Washington said. “Hustle plays at the point, doing little things we need to do and we had some moments out there where the hustle and extra effort really paid off for us.”

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