One of the all-time great Penn State women’s basketball players, Suzie McConnell-Serio, made a return to her alma mater as the opposing coach Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.
However, it was not a happy homecoming as the Lady Lions defeated Pittsburgh 91-62 on Saturday afternoon.
“Who thought igniting this rivalry was a good idea?” McConnell-Serio joked to open her post-game media session.
Neither team was able to establish a strong lead as the game went back and forth and the first quarter ended 19-19.
The Panthers opened the second quarter with an early 3-pointer, but the Lady Lions then found their rhythm. They went on an 23-5 run the rest of the quarter to take a 42-27 lead heading into the second half. A key during the quarter was the Lady Lions’ defense, holding Pitt to just 23.1 percent shooting from the field.
“We definitely wanted to get stops defensively,” said Lindsey Spann. “Once we got stops defensively it helped our transition game and allowed us to play faster.”
It was an all-around team performance for Penn State.
Spann scored a game-high 20 points and Amari Carter and Teniya Page added 13 each, with Carter hitting three 3-pointers. Page, the team’s leading scorer, struggled from the field with 4 for 14 shooting, but she had a team-high seven assists and added five rebounds and three steals.
Jaylen Williams and Peyton Whitted were both key down low, with Williams scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds, and Whitted had seven points and eight rebounds. Jaida Travascio-Green was 3 for 4 from the 3-point line.
Penn State’s bench outscored Pittsburgh’s bench 34-14, and head coach Coquese Washington said her team can be dangerous with everyone contributing.
“I think we can be pretty good,” Washington said. “I think our bench is key. We’ve got a lot of firepower when they come in. I think Sierra Moore gives us a lot, Jaida Green can give us a lot, Peyton Whitted can come in and give us a lot.”
Brenna Wise led Pittsburgh with 15 points while Jasmine Whitney added 14 as the pair accounted for nearly half the Panthers’ points.
“They didn’t do anything we didn’t prepare for,” McConnell-Serio said. “At times we executed very well, but we didn’t hit enough shots.”
Penn State continued to control the game throughout the second half as the Panthers could not cut the lead significantly.
The Lady Lions will take the week off for final exams before returning to the Bryce Jordan Center nex Sunday to host American.
With Big Ten play approaching, Washington feels the team is becoming more prepared, but the defense still needs work.
“I think our defense needs to continue to improve,” she said. “You look at the teams at the top of the Big Ten and those teams score a lot of points. Michigan at one point was leading the nation in scoring. Maryland at one point was leading the nation in scoring. Ohio State, Minnesota and Indiana can put up a lot of points. We need to defend without fouling, contain the ball and win games without having to score 90 points.”