Penn State Basketball

Penn State women’s basketball runs away with win over Illinois

psheehan@centredaily.com

The fast break sparked the Penn State women’s basketball team Sunday.

The Lady Lions got out in transition on their way to an 82-66 win over Illinois at the Bryce Jordan Center.

“That’s a big thing that we really excel in,” Penn State’s Sierra Moore said. “Just me getting wide and people like Amari (Carter) finding me. That’s what really worked for us.”

Moore led Penn State with 19 points. Kaliyah Mitchell added 16 points off the bench, Teniya Page had 12 and Lindsey Spann added 10 for the Lady Lions, who outscored Illinois 18-2 on fast-break points.

Illinois (8-14, 3-6) had 16 turnovers in the game — including 12 in the first half — and the Lady Lions finished with 21 points off turnovers. Illinois averaged 14.0 turnovers per game coming into the contest.

Penn State (14-7, 4-5 Big Ten) took a 46-39 lead into halftime and added to its lead in the second half while limiting Illinois to 22 percent shooting.

Penn State coach Coquese Washington was satisfied with her team’s defensive performance.

“We wanted to be aggressive defensively: have active hands and speed the game up,” Washington said. “I thought our depth was a factor in mixing up the defense, being aggressive on the glass.”

The Lady Lions turned their defense into offense.

Carter helped lead the break, finishing with eight points and a team-high eight assists.

Carter stressed that the team’s depth contributed to the win.

The Lady Lions’ bench outscored Illinois’ reserves 35-11.

“It gives us a boost in confidence when someone can come into the game and get rebounds, play defense and get up shots and get out in transition, help our offense and defense keep going,” Carter said.

Mitchell was the team’s top contributor off the bench.

She went 6 for 8 from the field and grabbed six rebounds in 15 minutes.

“She was certainly a difference maker for us,” Washington said. “She was impactful on both ends on the floor. She came into the game and gave us a little more speed, athletic ability to guard (Alex) Wittinger. Offensively, she was aggressive and taking great shots and looking for the ball.”

Wittinger was limited to 14 points on 4 for 18 shooting, and Brandi Beasley scored a game-high 28 points for Illinois.

The Lady Lions will look to build on the win when they travel to Ohio State on Wednesday.

“We have to keep coming into practice every day and keep getting better on the little things like rebounding and working on our transition offense and transition defense,” Moore said.

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