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.
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.