UNIVERSITY PARK - Despite a bumpy beginning, things played out as excepted Sunday for the Penn State women's basketball team.
Maggie Lucas scored 24 points to lead five players in double figures and the No. 6 Lady Lions rebounded from an early deficit with a 22-1 run to spark a 101-44 rout of Fairleigh Dickinson at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Ariel Edwards had 18 points off the bench, and Dara Taylor added 15 points and five assists for Penn State (6-1), which rebounded from its first loss of the season Wednesday at Miami (Fla.).
Danielle Pankey had 15 points to lead Fairleigh Dickinson (1-5).
Penn State, which had gone with the same starting five through the first six games of the season, changed its look Sunday. Taylor, a junior guard who transferred from Maryland, and Talia East, a junior forward, each made their first career starts with the Lady Lions.
"I want us to play faster," Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. "Dara is certainly the fastest and the speediest player on our team. I don't think we're playing fast enough yet. I think we can play faster and we can push tempo even more. I think Dara gives us a great opportunity with her speed. The combination of her and [guard Alex Bentley] that will give us a chance to play faster."
It had the opposite effect at the start.
Penn State, which improved to 11-1 against the Northeast Conference, was playing its first home game in two weeks and expected to dominate Fairleigh Dickinson.
But the Lady Lions missed six of their first nine shots and trailed the Knights, 10-7, after Mariah Nunes made 1 of 2 free throws with 12:53 left in the first half.
"That's the first time we've started this lineup ever," Washington said. "So, I think it took a few minutes for those five to get a rhythm playing together."
Down by three, the Lady Lions' defense clamped down. The Knights went 6 minutes, 19 seconds without a basket and Penn State responded by blowing open the game.
Lucas connected on the second of her six 3-pointers to tie the game. Another three from the junior guard gave Penn State the lead for good at 13-10.
Nikki Greene's layup followed by a turnover from Fairleigh Dickinson and a layup from Taylor gave the Lady Lions a seven-point lead and forced a timeout from the visitors with 9:42 left in the first half.
A 3-pointer from Taylor more than two minutes later put Penn State up 29-11 before Pankey ended Fairleigh Dickinson's scoring drought.
"Our defensive intensity kind of kicked in," Washington said. "We're a team that sometimes it takes us a few minutes to feel the game out. Sometimes it takes us a whole half to feel the game out. It only took us half of the first half to figure out this game."
Penn State went 13 of 14 from the free-throw line over the final 5:36 of the first half to help build its lead to 50-21 at the intermission.
The Lady Lions increased their lead to 48 points by the midway point of the second half. Taylor's jumper with 30 seconds remaining in the game gave Penn State its biggest lead at 59 points and pushed the Lady Lions over the 100-point mark for the first time since a 103-42 win against Wagner on Dec. 18, 2011.
Penn State shot nearly 50 percent (36-for-73) from the field against Fairleigh Dickinson and committed only eight turnovers after handing the ball over 29 times in its 69-65 loss to Miami.
Taylor, who committed a team-high six turnovers against the Hurricanes, had two against the Knights and said holding on to the ball was really important for the Lady Lions.
"Coach was talking about us executing, focusing on offense," Taylor said. "I think a big part of that was trying to take care of the ball, getting more shot opportunities. I think we did that tonight."
NOTE: Senior forward Mia Nickson missed Sunday's game after Washington said she tweaked a muscle in the loss at Miami. Nickson, who started the first six games and averaged 9.0 points, is expected to play at No. 2 Connecticut on Thursday.