UNIVERSITY PARK — Coquese Washington has got bad news for the rest of the Big Ten.
After holding Indiana to its second-worst shooting night of the season Wednesday, Washington said her team deserved only a “ solid B” on the grading scale.
Maybe that’s because the Lady Lions’ defense has been so good lately.
No. 13 Penn State (14-4 overall, 5-1 Big Ten) held its third consecutive opponent to less than 55 points as the Lady Lions netted a 65-52 triumph over the Hoosiers before 4,828 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Indiana (15-4, 2-4) , which has scored 80 or more 10 times this season, shot 27.6 percent for the contest. The Hoosiers netted just nine points — and had nine fouls — over the first 12 minutes of the second half as Penn State pulled away in a sloppy game. Ariel Edwards and Maggie Lucas each had 18 points each to lead the Lady Lions, while Talia East and Tori Waldner had career highs with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
More than half (30) of the Hoosiers’ 58 shots were 3-pointers and they made just nine, with three coming in the final
41/2 minutes after the outcome had been decided.
Still, Washington had some things to nitpick.
“I thought they got too many open threes,” Washington said. “Some of it was our rotations just weren’t sharp enough. ... I thought we did a good job of contesting shots and holding them to a low shooting percentage, but I thought we could have played a little bit better.”
Indiana coach Curt Miller said his team struggled getting into any kind of flow against the taller Lady Lions, starting once the Hoosiers crossed midcourt.
“Tonight what bothered us was the initial entry into our offense,” said Miller, who got a technical foul during the game. “Dara Taylor pushed our point guards out to where we were making our entry passes 35 or 40 feet to start the offense. I thought their wings Ariel and Maggie did a good job of making our first catches away from the basket. As you want to attribute their defensive field goal percentage to their great length and size in the post, tonight it was the ball pressure and the way they made us initiate our offense.”
Penn State, which led from start to finish, held Indiana’s top scorer Larryn Brooks to 11 points on 4 of 15 shooting. The rest of the Hoosiers’ 3-point shooters also struggled until the final minutes.
“The majority of the game we did a good job on it, finding the shooters,” Lucas said. “I think at the end of the game we slipped a little bit.”
The strong defense made up for a rough night on offense by the Lady Lions. Penn State shot just 38.5 percent (20 of 52) for the contest.
“We’re not getting as many points in transition as I would like,” Washington said. “I thought we had easily eight or 10 more points we left on the floor in transition. You add that to our point total and the fans get their McNuggets and everybody is happy. I think we have to be a little bit more efficient in our transition offense and get more points that way.”
Penn State led 31-24 after a disjointed first half. Lucas (13) and Edwards (7) took 20 of the team’s 28 shots before the break. The Two combined for 23 points.
The Lady Lions started spreading the ball a little more in the second half and made seven of their first eight shots after the break to build a 48-31. East made three of those baskets.
Penn State extended the margin as large as 52-31 with 9:35 remaining.
“We moved the ball pretty well from side to side and made the defense work and gave us some pretty open looks,” Lucas said. “When you make the defense work, you get some easier looks.”
Penn State coasted from there, but it wasn’t pretty basketball.
“I’m not sure either team played very well,” Miller said. “Certainly, Penn State didn’t play its best.”
Miller started five freshmen against the Lady Lions, hoping to find some of the same magic that worked in Sunday’s 83-78 overtime win over Minnesota.
“Your four top players are seniors and have played in multiple big games and (they were) going against five freshmen,” Miller said of Lady Lion starters Lucas, Edwards, East and Taylor. “It’s almost comical when you think about we started five freshmen against those four seniors. Are you kidding me?”
Edwards had a strong all-around game, going 6 for 8 from the floor, with eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. East added 11 rebounds for her second career double-double.
Tabitha Geradot led the Hoosiers with 12 points.
Penn State returns to action Sunday with a 1 p.m. clash against Minnesota at the Jordan Center.
Notes: Edwards moved past the 800-point for her career and now has 806. ... Lucas climbed past 2,200 points and now has 2,211. ... Penn State is 30-9 against Indiana. ... Penn State will give away mini-bobbleheads of Lucas at Sunday’s game.