Within the first 15 minutes, the game was all but over.
“It’s nice playing with a cushion,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said.
And what a cushion it was.
The Lady Lions dominated Fordham 70-51 on Sunday afternoon, using 15-0 and 12-0 first-half runs to advance to the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. They led by 21 at halftime.
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Penn State (21-10) will host Virginia Tech (19-13) at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State’s Teniya Page led all scorers with 24 points, hitting 9 of 18 from the field with a couple of 3-pointers. Amari Carter and Sierra Moore helped Page out, contributing 15 and 10 points, respectively.
It was Page who started the Lady Lions’ first sizable run. After a sluggish start — Penn State didn’t score in the first two-and-a-half minutes — the sophomore guard put away a fastbreak layup.
Seconds later, Moore cut in front of a Fordham pass at centercourt for an easy breakaway bucket.
“We always talk about letting your defense dictate your offense,” Washington said. “You can’t always control whether or not the ball goes in the basket. I thought early on we had some good shots; they just didn’t fall. Our defense was good in the first quarter ... and it allowed us to get out to a lead.”
Page followed up Moore’s layup with a trey, Moore nailed a fadeaway jumper from the foul line, Jaida Travascio-Green hit a three of her own, and Siyeh Frazier sank a pair of free throws on consecutive possessions.
From the 7:23 to the 3:29 mark in the first quarter, the Lady Lions cruised with 15 unanswered points.
“I could kind of feel that we starting to get momentum,” Page said.
After another run, the Lady Lions led 27-4 with less than five minutes left in the half.
The game felt finished, but Washington knew not to underestimate Fordham. The Rams trailed by11 at halftime in their first-round matchup against Georgetown, only to rattle off a 60-49 win.
“We never felt like we were on cruise control,” the coach said. “We had a lot of respect for Fordham and their ability, and we played hard to keep that gap the rest of the game.”
The Lady Lions didn’t find much issue in staying firmly ahead. Fordham cut Penn State’s lead to 16 in the fourth quarter, but never truly threatened.
The Lady Lions are hoping for a similar effort on Thursday.
“No team is just going to fold over and go away,” Carter said. “Every team is going to fight. This is a tournament, and everyone wants to win.”
Spann likely out for season
Redshirt junior guard Lindsey Spann did not play against Fordham, her second straight missed game — and now it’s clear why.
Coquese Washington said Spann is likely done for the remainder of the season with a leg injury.
“As long as we continue playing, she probably won’t play,” the coach added.
Spann’s last game was on March 2, when Penn State bowed out of the Big Ten tournament to Minnesota. The Maryland native logged 24 minutes and scored seven points off the bench against the Golden Gophers.
Spann averaged 10.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game this season.