Candice Agee wasn’t feeling very well, so Penn State coach Coquese Washington decided to pull her from the starting lineup Wednesday night.
Agee got better.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore doubled her previous career high with 16 points and was part of a front line that dominated the glass in the No. 14 Lady Lions’ 92-49 romp against Bucknell before 3,646 fans at the Bryce Jordan Center. Maggie Lucas’ 17 points paced five teammates in double figures as Penn State rebounded from a loss to No. 1 Connecticut on Sunday.
Agee, who came into the contest averaging 5.7 points per game, was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season, but made her impact quickly. She tied her previous career high with eight points as the Lady Lions (3-1) took control of the game. Her offense got the Lady Lions through a sloppy stretch early in the second half.
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Agee, who missed practice Tuesday with her illness, said she wanted to be more aggressive.
“Especially after Sunday’s game, we wanted to put a big emphasis on our offensive execution and getting looks inside,” Agee said. “One of our big big things for the posts as a unit was being more aggressive and working to get offensive position. That was definitely a big focus for all of us this game.”
Three of her buckets came following offensive rebounds. She led the Lady Lions with five offensive boards.
“That’s something we’ve been talking with her about — being more active on the offensive glass,” Washington said. “I though she did a better job of it tonight.”
Penn State’s post players were very active throughout the game, helping the Lady Lions produce a whopping 56-32 edge on the boards and a 25-4 margin in second-chance points.
Freshman forward Alex Harris grabbed a team-high 11 boards. Guard/forward Kaliyah Mitchell added eight.
“The posts and the guards, we always go back and forth with our rebounding and their rebounding,” Agee said. “When that’s put as an emphasis on your position. you look to execute that much more. Coming off of Sunday, you really want to get back to Penn State basketball. That’s what it is, posts rebounding and controlling the boards offensively and defensively. Our mindset was on that definitely tonight.
Penn State’s mind also was on getting past Sunday’s 71-52 loss to the No. 1 Huskies.
“I was ready and prepared from practice,” said Mitchell, who scored a career-high 14 points. “(It was) getting over Sunday, trying to bounce back and get on the right track.”
Ariel Edwards, who was 1 for 13 from the floor Sunday, bounced back with 14 points, seven rebounds and a career-high five assists.
“Anytime you have a game that you’re not happy with, it’s important to come out the next game an get that feeling and that confidence back,” Edwards said. “That’s something I looked to do this game.”
Edwards said facing the Bison was cathartic after Sunday’s loss.
“I think especially with the outcome of that game that we wanted to play another game,” the senior said. “Get our confidence back, get back into the flow of things and get back onto the right path. We want to win games. We want to execute well. After a big game like that, we just want to come out and do the things we do well.”
Wednesday’s game wasn’t much of a contest after the opening minutes. Penn State led 10-9 at the 15-minute mark, then outscored the Bison (1-3) by a 42-14 margin to close out the half.
Tori Waldner, Edwards, Agee, Mitchell and Harris were a combined 15-of-18 from the floor. The Lady Lions held a 28-8 edge on points in the paint and 18-0 margin on second-chance points.
“We came into this thing knowing that we had some difficult matchups, especially at the post,” Bucknell coach Aaron Roussell said. “Those definitely exposed us a little bit. I think those did a really good job within the post of getting position, but also when other people were taking shots.
“You can’t simulate their size in practice. You can’t simulate their speed in practice,” Roussell added. “That’s why they’re two-time Big Ten champions.”
The second half wasn’t quite as crisp for the Lady Lions, but it did give Washington a chance to get her freshmen on the floor for extended minutes. Mitchell and Harris (eight points) each finished with 20 minutes of playing time. Washington had five freshmen on the floor in the final four minutes.
“We went to get them as much experience as possible because we’re going to need them,” Washington said. “We’re going to need them when we get into Big Ten play. The bigger and deeper your rotation, the better. The more playing time they get, they can learn from their mistakes.”
Waldner added 10 points for the Lady Lions on 5 of 6 shooting. Nine different players scored.
Audrey Dotson had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Bison (1-3).
Penn State next heads to the Bahamas and will face Oregon State in the opening round of the Junkanoo Jam on Nov. 29.
Notes: Penn State improved to 13-0 against Bucknell. ... Penn State shot just 11 percent (2 of 18) from 3-point range. ... Lucas did make a 3-pointer to increase her school record of 39 straight games with a trey. ... Freshman Jenny DeGraaf scored her first collegiate basket in the second half. ... Waldner, who did not score in double figures during her first two seasons, has hit double digits in two straight. ... Lucas (390) moved past Jess Strom (387) and Lisa Shepherd (387) into seven place for career free throws made at Penn State.