The first time Ohio State played No. 9 Penn State this season, the Buckeyes shot a miserable 29.6 percent in a 66-42 Big Ten basketball loss at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Back in their home digs Sunday at the Value City Arena, the Buckeyes could shoot that poorly again, right?
No, it was worse. Penn State held Ohio State to 28 percent shooting as the Lady Lions (18-5 overall, 9-2 Big Ten) climbed back into the conference lead by rallying to a 74-54 romp against the Buckeyes (4-13, 4-7).
After leading by as many as seven in the first half, the Buckeyes went 7 of 28 (25 percent) from the floor and scored just 18 points in the second half.
While the Buckeyes struggled, Maggie Lucas had one of her best shooting days of conference play this season, nailing 9 of 14 shots, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Lucas had 12 points during a 21-3 run over the final minutes of the first half and early minutes of the second half that gave the Lady Lions the lead for good.
“(There were) a lot of possessions where we got them deep into the shot clock and she would make a play,” Buckeyes coach Kevin McGuff said. “She’s a great player. She’s one of the best scoring guards in the country. Defensively, we were doing a lot of good things but she would kind of bail them out with a spectacular play. That’s what makes her special and it’s part of what makes them a great team.”
Ahead by 38-36 after taking a 12-3 run into the half, Penn State scored the first nine points of the second half.
Dara Taylor’s 3-pointer from the left baseline on the first possession pushed the lead to five.
After three missed shots and a turnover by Ohio State, Lucas nailed a jumper for a 43-36 lead. Lucas then followed two more Ohio State misses with baskets — one a step-back 15-footer and the other a layup in transition — to push the lead to 11.
“A lot of times at the beginning of games, I’m seeing a lot more pressure,” said Lucas, who had been shooting 38 percent for the season and 34 percent from 3-point range. Once the game goes on, you can find some breakdowns.”
Scoreless for the first 4:27 of the second half, the Buckeyes picked up the next five points but couldn’t solve Penn State’s zone defense. They never got closer than six points from there.
Leading 51-44, Penn State iced it. Two Lucas free throws, a transition layup by Ariel Edwards, Peyton Whitted’s follow of her own miss and Taylor’s layup off a pass from Lucas gave the Lady Lions a 59-44 lead with just over 81/2 minutes left.
“That’s one of the things that I like about our team is we’re pretty resilient,” said Lady Lion Coach Coquese Washington, whose team rebounded from a 73-70 upset loss to Iowa on Thursday. “In Maggie’s time here, that’s one of the things that we’ve done — we’ve bounced back when we hit some adversity and suffered through some tough games. I was pleased to see that continue this afternoon.”
Taylor and Talia East each added 12 points for the Lady Lions, who lead Nebraska by a game in the league standings. East and Tori Waldner grabbed eight rebounds each and Taylor had six assists.
Raven Ferguson and Ameryst Alston each scored 16 points for the Buckeyes, who have lost five straight to Penn State. Alston, fourth in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.4 points a game, was held out of the starting lineup after she showed up late for the morning shoot-around, held during a snow squall.
McGuff said Penn State’s experience was the difference again, like he mentioned in the first matchup.
“Even through the down times, they kept playing and doing what they do,” McGuff said of the Lady Lions. “When we started going in a bad direction, we kind of spiraled. That points back to their leadership and their experience kind of carried the day for them.”