If you don’t do well on a test, you study harder and hope to get a better grade on the next one.
Following Wednesday night’s victory over Akron, Penn State coach Coquese Washington was not pleased with her team’s defense, especially her players’ communication, saying they would want a do-over if she were to grade them.
But after the Lady Lions upset No. 13 Tennessee 70-56 on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center, Washington was happier with her team’s effort and energy.
“Our defense is coming along,” Washington said. “In our last game, our energy on defense was up and down, so when I gave that grade it was in large part because of that. Tonight on the defensive end, I thought our energy stayed high. We didn’t get deflated when they made a run, we didn’t get deflated when they were able to get the ball inside to (Mercedes) Russell.”
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Penn State (3-1) got out to a quick lead, starting the game on an 11-4 run. Tennessee (3-1) came right back at the Lady Lions to close the lead to 15-14 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Lions had a big second quarter, outscoring the Lady Volunteers 18-6 to take a 33-20 lead into halftime.
Tennessee slowly got back into the game with a strong third quarter behind Russell, who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
But Penn State responded in the fourth, outscoring Tennessee 26-16 to seal the upset victory with some big shots down the stretch.
“Penn State played a great game,” Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick said. “They were inspired. They were ready to play us. They did whatever they wanted against us, and they deserve a lot of credit today.”
Sophomore guard Teniya Page was Penn State’s offensive leader with 29 points.
“I just read the defense to see what they were giving me,” said Page. “... I just had to pay attention to how they were guarding me and my teammates.”
Lady Lions guard Amari Carter was aggressive offensively.
She finished 3 for 7 from beyond the arc, including a big 3-pointer with 5:43 remaining in the game to give Penn State a 57-42 lead.
“(The shot) was amazing,” said Carter, “because it felt like they got deflated at that point. The crowd and the atmosphere helped us push along.”
Washington was very pleased with her team’s communication.
The coach gave her players a good grade Sunday.
“Our communication was really high on the defensive end,” she said. “I would give our communication a A-minus, I thought our upperclassmen really came through today and played big. The moment wasn’t too big for them.”
The Lady Lions take on Georgia State in the San Juan Shootout at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Daytona Beach, Fla. They then face Georgetown at 1:15 p.m. Friday.