If Sunday’s 30-point win over Wagner was a small step forward for the Penn State women’s basketball team, then Wednesday’s loss at Hartford was a step back.
The Hawks, who had lost six straight, dominated early and the Lady Lions never recovered in a 62-57 loss.
Penn State (2-7) trailed by as many as 24 points early in the second half before Candice Agee fueled a rally. Agee scored 17 of her 20 points after the break.
The Hawks’ Deanna Mayza had 25 points to lead all scorers. She was 6 for 8 from 3-point range. The Hawks made 11 3-pointers in the contest.
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Hartford scored the first five points and never trailed as Penn State struggled to do anything productive on offense in the half. The Lady Lions went 7 for 24 from the floor and committed 14 turnovers. They also went 3 for 6 from the foul line.
Hartford took advantage, building a 38-18 halftime lead. The Hawks nailed 6 of 12 3-pointers in building the margin.
The margin grew as high as 46-22 as Shanise Bultron drilled a 3-pointer with 17:03 left in the game.
Agee, who at 6-foot-6 was six inches taller than any Hawk, began to exert her size advantage as Penn State tried to mount a comeback. Her 3-point play, followed by another basket, brought the Lady Lions to within 54-42 61/2 minutes remaining.
Thanks to a Mayza 3-pointer, it would take Penn State another three minutes before Peyton Whitted’s two free throws cut the lead to 10 points (58-48) with 3:22 left.
The Lady Lions held Hartford to four free throws from there, but could not make up enough of the difference. Kaliyah Mitchell’s 3-pointer, following a steal by Sierra Moore, got Penn State to within 61-57 with 11.7 remaining. Mary Pattison made a free throw to push the margin to five and Penn State did not get a shot until Jenny DeGraaf’s 3-pointer with a second left.
Agee was one point off her career high. She finished 8 for 13 from the floor and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Moore added 10 points and five assists for the Lady Lions, who finished 20 for 57 from the floor with 21 turnovers. Mitchell had nine, but was 2 for 13 from floor. Whitted notched eight. Freshman Lindsey Spann, who had scored in double figures in her first eight college games, was held to five points on 1 for 6 shooting.
Cherelle Moore chipped in 14 points for Hartford (4-6). Of the Hawks’ 19 field goals, 11 were 3-pointers which were the most by a Penn State opponent this season.
Penn State returns to action at 2:30 p.m. Sunday against Rider at the Bryce Jordan Center. The contest will follow the Penn State men’s game against George Washington, which tips off at noon.
Notes: Penn State fell to 2-1 all-time against Hartford. ... The Lady Lions dropped to 0-2 against the America East Conference this season. They also lost 54-53 against Albany. ... Penn State dropped to 0-5 in games in which it has committed 19 or more turnovers. ... Moore has scored in double figures in seven games. ... Tori Waldner had one block and is now tied with Talia East for eighth on the school’s career list with 102.