Penn State Basketball

Penn State women’s basketball: Lady Lions collapse in second half in loss to Wisconsin

Penn State had its first halftime lead of the Big Ten season.

The margin didn’t make a difference as the worst start in program history worsened.

Wisconsin blew out the Lady Lions in the second half in a 65-46 loss at the Kohl Center on Tuesday. Penn State dropped to 3-12 overall and 0-4 in the conference. The Lady Lions have been outscored 322-227 in league play.

Jacki Gulczynski, who came in averaging 8.4 points per game, torched the Lady Lions for 23 points, including six 3-pointers.

“I think Coach Bobbie (Kelsey) lit a fire under me during our last game when she pulled me after the first two minutes of the game,” Gulczynski said. “She told me to shoot the ball, and that really got under my skin a little bit. Nobody likes to sit on the bench, so I was just determined tonight to come out and shoot it.”

Lindsey Spann had 13 for the Lady Lions, who made just seven field goals over the final 20 minutes, going 7 for 29 from the field with 10 turnovers.

“I thought we ran out of gas a little bit in the second half…didn’t have quite as much energy as we did in the first half and certainly Wisconsin played a role in that,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. “They were very aggressive.”

The Badgers (6-8, 2-2) trailed Penn State 26-24 at the break, but the Lady Lions scored just five points over the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Badgers outscored Penn State 24-5 over that span, with Gulczynski’s 3-pointer capping the the big run to make the score 48-31 with 10:16 left.

Candice Agee had Penn State’s field goals as the Lady Lions went 2 for 9 with seven turnovers.

Penn State did not get within 13 points the rest of the way. Wisconsin’s lead grew as large as 64-42.

“I think we had a scoring drought in the second half, and we tend to do that,” Washington said. “We have stretches of the game — five, six, seven-minute stretches — where we struggle to score. Wisconsin got on it and transitioned and got some easy baskets. It kind of got away from us there.”

Dakota Whyte added 15 and Tessa Cichy had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Wisconsin. Cassie Rochel had 13 rebounds and swatted seven Penn State shots.

Agee added nine points and seven rebounds for the Lady Lions, who shot 30 percent (18 of 60) for the game and had 19 turnovers.

The Lady Lions once again got off to a poor start in the first half. Wisconsin scored the game’s first seven points as Penn State opened 0 for 4 from the field and committed three turnovers.

Spann and Jenny DeGraaf helped the Lady Lions get going. Spann had the first two baskets and DeGraaf drilled a 3-pointer to end a 14-1 run that gave the Lady Lions an 18-10 lead.

Gulczynski helped Wisconsin regain the lead. A 3-pointer, her third, put the Badgers ahead 24-22 with 2:56 left in the half.

Penn State held the Badgers scoreless for the remainder of the half. Spann converted a jumper and fed Peyton Whitted for a layup to give the Lady Lions a 26-24 lead at the break.

Neither team shot well. Penn State was 11 for 31 (36 percent), while Wisconsin was 8 for 28 (29 percent).

Penn State hosts No. 24 Rutgers (10-4) at noon on Saturday.