Lady Lions fall to unranked opponent

BROOKINGS, S.D. – The Penn State Lady Lions rallied late and got within one point with 1:17 left, but South Dakota State secured the 83-79 upset win Wednesday night in women’s college basketball action.

The loss dropped Penn State, whose only two losses prior to the game were against UConn and Notre Dame, to 6-3.

Senior swingman Ariel Edwards keyed the Lions’ late drive and tied her career high with 24 points off of a 9-for-12 effort from the field to lead Penn State.

Edwards also pulled in seven rebounds, blocked a career-best four shots, nabbed four steals and dished out a pair of assists. Maggie Lucas posted her 51st career 20-point game with 20 tallies.

Fellow senior Dara Taylor had a personal-best 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting to go with five assists and two steals. Tori Waldner also had a solid game with eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

The Lady Lions took the early 4-3 lead with scores by Taylor and Edwards sandwiched around a 3-point play by South?Dakota’s Megan Waytashek.

The Jackrabbits scored the game’s next 10 points to establish a 13-4 lead just three minutes into the game and forcing Lady Lion coach Coquese Washington to take a timeout.

Lucas scored four of the next six points to make it a 15-8 game with 15:44 left in the first, but the Jacks spread the margin to 13 – 22-9 – by going on a 7-1 run over the next minute and a half. The Lady Lions brought the deficit to seven (24-17) with an 8-2 spurt that featured four points by Edwards.

However, South Dakota would click off a 10-2 run of its own to take a 34-19 lead with nine minutes remaining in the opening frame.

The Jackrabbits (7-4) scored seven of the game’s next 11 points to push their lead to 41-23 before Taylor scored four and Waldner converted on a layup to close the gap to 12 (41-29) with three minutes remaining. South Dakota State would stretch the lead to 20 (55-35) over the final three minutes as the Jack knocked down four three-pointers and made two free throws in that span.

The second half opened with much of the same as the Jackrabbits scored five of the first seven points to extend the lead to 60-37 with 17:46 left. Penn State caught fire and went on a 21-7 run to close within nine (67-58) with 9:34 left. The senior guard trio of Taylor (9 pts.), Lucas (7) and Edwards (4) led the charge for the Lions.

The Jacks would go on a 8-3 run doing most of their damage from the free throw line with six points to make it 75-61 with eight minutes left. Edwards keyed one last run for the Lions by starting the 16-3 spurt with a three-point play and capping it with five straight points, including another three-point play to make it a one-point game (78-77) with 1:17 left.

Gabby Boever responded for the Jacks with a layup to extend the South?Dakota’s lead and Tara Heiser made it a four-point margin (81-77) with 14 seconds left. Edwards scored on a layup with four seconds left to close the gap to two, but the Jacks sealed the win with two free throws by Steph Paluch.