Penn State had a week to get ready for its second meeting with No. 5 Maryland on Monday.
The extra time didn’t help against the newly-crowned Big Ten champions.
The Terrapins scored the game’s first 10 points and opened up a 21-point lead at halftime on the way to a 65-34 romp against the Lady Lions at the XFinity Center on Monday.
Penn State (6-21 overall, 3-13 Big Ten) had more turnovers (15) than points (14) in the first 20 minutes and never threatened against the Terrapins (25-2, 16-0).
“Turnovers killed us,” Lady Lion coach Coquese Washington said. “We couldn’t get into the start of the game. I think we had seven of our first 10 possessions end with turnovers.”
Candice Agee had 10 points and nine rebounds to lead the Lady Lions, who shot 30 percent (15 of 50) and had 22 turnovers. The 34 points eclipsed a season-low of 39 scored against Syracuse on Dec. 4. The loss also dropped the Lady Lions into a last-place tie with Purdue in the conference standings with two games remaining.
Brionna Jones had 17 points for the Terrapins, who led by as many as 35 points in the second half.
Penn State opened the game with three turnovers and three missed shots. Maryland’s Laurin Mincy and Lexie Brown each drilled 3-pointers in a 10-0 run.
Peyton Whitted’s two free throws finally ended the Lady Lions’ offensive drought at the 15:52 mark. The Lady Lions wouldn’t make their first field goal until Agee‘s layup off a feed from Sierra Moore 7:06 into the game.
“We missed a lot of layups,” Washington said. “When you’re facing a high-caliber team on their court, it’s hard to be successful when you leave points on the board. We never really got into a rhythm or a flow, obviously.”
Despite playing solid defense, Penn State saw the deficit grow thanks to its poor shooting and turnovers. After Agee’s layup, the Lady Lions would make just three baskets over a nearly 11-minute span as the Terps extended their lead to 30-10. Jones’ putback at the buzzer made it 35-14 at halftime.
Lindsey Spann scored the first two baskets of the second half to bring Penn State to within 35-18, but the Lady Lions would get no closer. Penn State later would have a more than six-minute drought in a sloppy half. Maryland’s lead grew to 57-26 during that drought. It got as high as 65-30 with 3:07 left.
Maryland coach Brenda Frese sat four of her starters over the final five minutes. Her team, which clinched the Big Ten crown when Iowa lost to Ohio State on Saturday, celebrated its title after the game.
“I’m really, really proud of this group,” Frese said. “Going into this season there were a lot of unknowns — young team, new conference. To be able to come out and play the way they have in these first 16 games is not easy.”
Penn State actually held the Terps about 17 points below their scoring average. Maryland’s point total was its second-lowest this season and the Terps shot 42 percent (25-60) with 20 turnovers. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Kristen Confroy had nine points each. Maryland had a whopping 51-27 rebounding edge.
“We did some positive things on the defensive end,” Washington said. “It’s just that we had an abysmal offensive night.”
Spann, the Lady Lions’ season scoring leader, had eight points on 4 for 16 shooting. Aside from Agee (5 for 9) the rest of the team shot 21.7 percent (5 of 23). Penn State also went 4 for 12 from the foul line.
Washington didn’t think the eight days between games affected her club adversely.
“I don’t think we were rusty at all,” she said. “We didn’t capitalize on the opportunities. Sometimes you get too hyped and too ramped up to play and we tried to make some plays that were uncharacteristic. We just needed to take advantage of the plays that we had and we didn’t quite do that.”
Penn State has two home opportunities to try to improve its seeding for the Big Ten Tournament, which tips off March 4 at Hoffman Estates, Ill. The Lady Lions own the tiebreaker edge against Purdue thanks to a 54-50 triumph against the Boilermakers on Feb. 8.
Penn State hosts Ohio State (19-9, 11-5) at 7 p.m. Thursday and meets Wisconsin (8-18, 4-12) in the annual Pink Zone game at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“This is one of those games that in some ways you don’t want to overanalyze it,” Washington said of Monday’s loss. “We didn’t play well. You have to put it behind you, regroup and get ready for Ohio State. I’m certain we’ll play better against Ohio State. We will have a better performance.”