Brianna Banks seemed to finally be at full health, but the problem with the Lady Lions’ 70-60 loss to St. Bonaventure on Saturday afternoon lay in the cohesiveness of the team as a whole.
“Every game we have two, three, four people (on the same page) but rarely do we have all five people locked in and ready to go to start the game,” said assistant coach Kia Damon.
Banks had a career-best 26 points and played 34 minutes, after a few weeks spent nursing two rolled ankles to limit her play, to help the Penn State women’s basketball team rally in the fourth quarter to come within two points of the lead after being down by 19. The Bonnies outscored the Lady Lions 12-4 in the final four minutes of the game to take the win at the Reilly Center.
“In some of the previous games, we’ve gotten off to a slow start in the first quarter and dug ourselves a hole,” said Damon. “You could see a little bit of that happen this game.
“(During) the run, we were able to get shots off and force them into quick shots, maybe shots they weren’t necessarily wanting to take... But the problem was, we didn’t do that consistently enough over the 40 minutes.”
Redshirt sophomore Lindsey Spann added 17 points, for her fourth consecutive game in double figures, and had three steals. Freshman guard Teniya Page, one of the shortest players on the team, led the Lady Lions on the glass with six rebounds. Nine steals also helped the team almost mount the comeback.
A game chock-full of scoring runs saw an opening 12-0 drive by the Bonnies to overwhelm an early 4-3 Penn State lead. St. Bonaventure also ended the half on a 7-3 run to push an eight-point halftime lead.
“They went on a run and we went cold, from a scoring perspective,” said Damon. “We just couldn’t find our rhythm offensively.”
After Penn State dropped to a 19-point deficit late in the third quarter, the Lady Lions found their groove with a 14-2 run, and Banks hit two free throws to make it a one-possession game with just over four minutes to play.
But from there, Penn State fell prey to a 12-4 outburst by the Bonnies and dropped its fifth loss in six games.
“We’re still trying to figure out what buttons to push as a team collectively to make sure that we can get everybody starting the game on the same page,” said Damon.
Thomas said she still sees the team growing, through the play of Banks and of Page, and the proof lay in the 19-point comeback attempt.
“Well, this game showed proof that when their backs are against the wall they can answer the bell,” she said. “That they won’t just lie down and let the team walk all over them, that they’ll push back, which is good to see.
“We just have to figure out how to not get ourselves in that sort of a deficit before that.”
Note: The writer covered remotely and spoke to Thomas after the game via phone.