Three minutes into Thursday’s Big Ten women’s basketball clash, Penn State was dead even against Michigan.
By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, the game was hopelessly lost for the Lady Lions.
The Wolverines outscored Penn State 47-17 over the next 17 minutes and cruised to an 89-53 romp against the Lady Lions at the Crisler Center. Michigan (9-4, 1-1) snapped a seven-game losing streak to Penn State.
Katelynn Flaherty had 21 points and Cyesha Goree added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Wolverines, who shot 47 percent (35 of 74) from the field and grabbed a whopping 24 offensive rebounds.
Lindsey Spann netted 15 points and Sierra Moore added 11 for the Lady Lions, who fell to 3-10 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. Penn State shot 40 percent (22 of 55) and was hurt by 24 turnovers.
“It was a bad night at the office,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said.
The afternoon started decently for the Lady Lions. Spann’s basket tied the score at 6-6 early in the contest.
But things spiraled out of control for the Lady Lions from there.
Flaherty, a freshman sharpshooter, came of f the bench and scored five points and Goree added four in a 14-0 run that took less than three minutes and pushed the Wolverine lead to 20-6.
The Wolverines made 10 of their first 15 shots.
“We never really got into a rhythm defensively,” Washington said. “When we’re not making stops, it’s hard to keep pace.
“I thought we started out pretty well the first five or six minutes,” she added. “It was still a four or five-point game (11-6). They went on a run and the next thing you know it was double digits and it ran away from us from that point on.”
Spann had two baskets that pulled Penn State to within 26-13, but the Lady Lions wouldn’t score again for five minutes. Flaherty’s 3-pointer capped a 15-0 run that pushed the lead to 41-13. The Wolverines led 53-23 at the break.
Michigan shot 50 percent in the half and made 5 of 11 3-pointers. Spann was 5 for 8 from the floor, while her teammates her teammates shot 6 for 21.
“We’ve got to be able to score points,” said Washington, whose team has been outscored 94-47 in the first half of its two conference games. “We’ve got to get more points and we’ve got to get stops. We definitely have to do a better job on both ends.”
Penn State played better, but did not get closer than 28 points. Michigan’s lead grew as high as 40 points on two separate occasions late in the contest.
“In the second half, we played them fairly even,” Washington said. “We did some things a lot better in the second half, but we have to come out in the very beginning of the game and have the right level of energy and intensity for the first 20 minutes.”
Flaherty finished 7 for 12, including 4 for 6 from 3-point range. Goree was 8 for 10 from the floor on the way to her ninth double-double of the season. Shannon Smith (17) and Sierra Thompson (10) also scored in double figures for the Wolverines, who had 24 assists.
“Everybody played well as soon as they stepped on the court,” Washington said of the Wolverines. “We have to have a better outing on Sunday.”
Penn State continued to struggle from beyond the arc and at the foul line. The Lady Lions were just 1 of 11 from 3-point range and were 8 of 17 from the line.
Spann and Moore led the Lady Lions in scoring, but combined for 12 turnovers.
Washington hopes she can see more of how the Lady Lions played in the second half in Sunday’s Big Ten home opener against Illinois at 2 p.m. The Fighting Illini (9-4) have not played since dropping their Big Ten opener 62-55 to Purdue.
“I thought we executed a lot better on both ends in the second half,” Washington said. “Again, it’s not that we aren’t doing things. We need to do some of those things for longer stretches in the game. When we can do that, we’ll be in good shape.”
Notes: Spann (209) eclipsed the 200-point mark in her 13th career game. … Alex Harris made her first career start but did not score a point or get a rebound in 12 minutes. … Washington has used five different starting lineups. … Michigan shot a season-high against Penn State. … The Wolverines are 8-0 when leading at halftime.