Penn State gave up 46 points in the first half of Sunday’s loss to Purdue, drawing the ire of coach Coquese Washington.
So what did the Lady Lions do in their next outing against a team that had beaten Purdue?
Give up 42 — for the entire game.
The No. 16 Lady Lions’ zone defense held Ohio State to a season-low 42 points in a 66-42 romp before 3.964 at the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday.
Maggie Lucas had 18 points and Ariel Edwards added 13 for Penn State (12-4 overall, 3-1 Big Ten) which dominated all of the major defensive statistics. The Lady Lions held the Buckeyes to 29.6 percent shooting (16 of 54), forced 22 turnovers and had a massive 54-36 rebounding edge.
“I didn’t really have specific expectations like that,” Washington said of holding Ohio State to 42 points. “I just knew we needed to play better. I liked from the very beginning the aggressiveness and the intensity which we played with on the defensive end.”
Ohio State (12-8, 2-2) was held below 50 points for the fifth time this season.
“It was a combination of things,” explained first-year Buckeye coach Kevin McGuff. “Penn State did a good job defensively. Give them credit. We didn’t move the ball real well which resulted in turnovers that they were converting into points at the other end. And when we did get open shots, we missed them. It was really kind of a convergence of a lot of things that came together for a really ugly night of offensive basketball for us.”
With the score tied at 10-10 six minutes into the game, Penn State took control by holding the Buckeyes without a basket over the next 8 1/2 minutes. The Lady Lions also struggled but used an 11-0 run over that time period to take the lead for good. Dara Taylor had six points and Lucas had five in the run.
“When we make shots early, we tend to shoot the ball really well throughout the game,” McGuff said. “And when we don’t, we struggle.”
The Lady Lions, behind 13 points from Lucas, led 29-21 at the half. Penn State opened the final 20 minutes with a 9-0 run and the Buckeyes never cut the lead into single digits the rest of the game.
Penn State’s 2-3 zone held the Buckeyes to 27.6 percent shooting (8 for 29) over the final half. The Buckeyes couldn’t finish inside and went 5 for 24 from 3-point range.
“I thought we communicated really well in the zone,” Lucas said. “I can speak up at the top for me and Dara, I thought we contained the ball. I thought all of the guards did a really good job of containing the ball and I thought our posts were just a dominating presence. They were big and just made it tough.”
Ohio State’s top scorer Ameryst Alston, who had carved up Indiana for 29 points on slashing drives to the basket in her last game, could not penetrate the Lady Lions’ zone. She had 12 points on 4 for 17 shooting.
“We’ve got to lock in on the best players in the conference and make it tough for them to get good looks,” Washington said.
“She didn’t play as aggressively tonight as she played in the last game,” McGuff said of Alston. “We’re at our best when she’s playing aggressively because she can create her own and she can create shots for others. She didn’t do that enough of that tonight.”
Penn State’s outstanding night on defense overshadowed its own poor shooting. The Lady Lions struggled in the halfcourt and shot just 25 of 72 (34.7 percent of the game). Penn State did have 10 different players make baskets.
“We still have to find a better rhythm on offense,” Washington said. “We have to be able to convert some of our paint touches. We’re a work in progress. We’ve got to keep getting better.”
Edwards grabbed 10 rebounds for her third career double-double. Taylor had six of the Lady Lions’ 14 steals. Ashley Adams added eight points and 10 rebounds for Ohio State.
Penn State next travels to Michigan State for a 5 p.m. clash Sunday. The Spartans (12-5, 4-0), the only unbeaten team in Big Ten player, thumped Iowa 88-72 Thursday.