When Penn State and Wagner met in women’s basketball action Sunday, one of the two teams was going to end a long losing streak.
Lindsey Spann, Sierra Moore and Kaliyah Mitchell made sure it was the Lady Lions.
Each of the trio had a career-high in scoring as Penn State snapped a six-game skid with a 96-66 romp over the winless Seahawks at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Spann scored 22 points, 18 in the first half, Moore had 21, including 11 of 12 shooting from the foul line, and Mitchell netted 20, including 16 in the first half, as Penn State shot 53 percent (34 of 64).
The Lady Lions (2-6) bounced back from scoring a season-low 39 points at No. 21 Syracuse on Thursday to better their season-high by 25 against the Seahawks (0-7).
“We focused on a lot of things in practice that we know we can get better at,” Spann said of the difference from Thursday’s 61-39 loss. “I think we’ve improved from the last game to this game and that’s what we’ve been focusing on — growing as a team.”
Coach Coquese Washington made a change within the offense too. She moved shooting guard Moore to the point on offense and Spann to the wing. The result was more shooting opportunities for Spann, who has scored in double figures in every game, and more driving lanes for Moore, who slashed to the basket for several layups and had a career-high seven assists with no turnovers.
“We’ve done it for stretches in other games but coming into this game we wanted to make that adjustment for the whole game,” said Washington, who’s club committed a season-low 12 turnovers. “I think it worked out pretty well for us.”
Washington was especially pleased to see Mitchell’s big afternoon. The sophomore had struggled all season and entered the contest shooting just 25 percent from the field. Mitchell made her first two shots and was off and running and finished 8 for 11 from the floor.
“I think it was another sign of growth,” said Mitchell, whose previous career-high was 14 points last season. “Just coming from last year into this year, it was a rough start but I have just been focusing on the game. Being able to contribute to the team is something that I’m really focused on.”
Mitchell, who was often the first player off the bench last season, has started in every game.
“She has been working really hard all season and even in the offseason on her shot,” Washington said. “She has put a lot of time into improving her game offensively and it just hadn’t really clicked for her in the games. I’m really glad to see her have a breakout game where she could see the ball going in the basket and get a little bit of confidence.”
Penn State broke out from the start, scoring the game’s first 10 points.
But like they have several times, they allowed Wagner to get back into the game. Jordyn Peck’s fourth 3-pointer in the first 10 minutes brought the Seahawks to within 15-14.
Spann and Mitchell helped push the lead back to 42-28 at halftime.
Wagner, battling foul trouble throughout the contest, never stood a chance in the second half. Moore had 15 after the break as the Lady Lions shot a blistering 63 prcent (20 of 32) in the final 20 minutes.
Penn State’s lead grew as high as 80-49 on two Jenny DeGraaf foul shots with 7:48 remaining.
“One of the biggest things that we’ve been talking about a lot lately is just discipline — the discipline to execute and stay focused on executing and not playing haphazardly,” Washington said. “When you’re young, you don’t always have the discipline to execute. One of the things I was pleased with today is I saw a lot more discipline out there, especially defensively in the first half.”
DeGraaf tied a career-high with 12 points. Dominique Brooks added a career-high four points. Led by Mitchell’s seven rebounds, the Lady Lions dominated the boards with a 40-29 edge.
Peck had 27 points, including six long 3-pointers in a 20-point first half, for the Seahawks, who have lost 10 straight dating back to last season. Jasmine Nwajei added 14.
“We got in quite a bit of foul trouble,” Wagner coach Lisa Cermignano said. “I think that shifted the game in the first half. It was a three-point game and as they kept pouring in more players, we had less to pour in because we were in such foul trouble. I really thought that was a turning point.”
The Lady Lions return to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hartford (3-6).