Lady Lions can’t climb all the way back

UNIVERSITY PARK – The Penn State women’s basketball team struggled on both ends of the floor, but still had a chance to pull out a victory Sunday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The No. 14 Lady Lions cut a 15-point deficit to two during a furious six-minute stretch in the second half, but ultimately came up short in an 84-74 loss to Purdue.

Maggie Lucas scored 17 points to lead Penn State (11-4, 2-1 Big Ten), which had won five straight. Dara Taylor added 13 points and Ariel Edwards had 12 for the Lady Lions, who lost at home to a Big Ten opponent for the first time in more than two years.

“We have to put 40 minutes together,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. “We really haven’t done that this year. We didn’t start the game strong. We didn’t finish the game strong. We had a stretch there in the second half of about six minutes where we played well. Outside of that, I don’t think we played well at any end of the floor.”

Courtney Moses had 25 points, including six 3-pointers, to lead No. 21 Purdue (11-4, 1-2). KK Houser added 18 points and Whitney Bays had 14 rebounds off the bench for the Boilermakers.

“It was a very tough environment,” Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. “We knew we had to stay steady and get out to a good start and try to keep the lead. It was obviously a very good win for us.”

The visiting Boilermakers turned a one-point deficit into a nine-point lead during a seven-minute stretch late in the first half. Purdue surged ahead behind the outside shooting of Moses, who had three 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, and Bays’ nine first-half rebounds.

“I don’t think we defended well enough at all,” Washington said. “Coming into the game, we knew that was a strength of their team. They push it and score in transition. We just did not do good enough of a job.”

Purdue, which led 46-37 at halftime, built its lead to 15 points on two occasions early in the second half. April Wilson’s two free throws put the Boilermakers up 60-45 with 12 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game.

Two free throws from Edwards then sparked a 21-8 Penn State run over the next six minutes.

Talia East’s 3-point play cut Purdue’s lead to single digits. Back-to-back layups from East over a minute later made it 66-60 with 9:12 remaining. Penn State eventually pulled to within two points, at 68-66, after Tori Waldner hit two free throws with seven minutes left.

“We could have played inside-out a lot more on offense,” Washington said. “When we had a stretch that we were playing well, we had good balance.”

After Moses missed a 3-point attempt, Penn State had the ball with a chance to tie the game or take the lead. But Edwards’ jumper was blocked by Bridget Perry. Bays converted the block into a layup and a four-point advantage.

Penn State, which wouldn’t score again until Edwards hit a jumper with 3:23 left, got no closer the rest of the way.

“I don’t think we ran out of gas,” East said. “I think they got a couple of shots down the stretch that we should have defended better. They just got away from us.”

The Lady Lions, who had won 14 straight home games against conference opponents, have four days to bounce back before playing host to Ohio State at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“I hope we respond well,” Washington said. “It’s early in the Big Ten season. We just have regroup and get ready for Ohio State. We certainly have to defend better than we did today.”

Note: New Penn State football coach James Franklin briefly addressed the crowd at halftime. The Lady Lions tied a school record with 14 blocked shots. East led the team with seven.

PURDUE (11-4): Moses 7-16 5-5 25, Williams 1-2 0-0 2, Houser 6-15 4-4 18, Clemons 5-9 2-3 12, Redmon 0-3 0-0 0, Hamby 0-1 0-0 0, Perry 1-10 7-9 9, Wilson 3-6 3-3 9, Bays 3-10 3-4 9. Totals 26-72 24-28 84.

PENN ST. (11-4): Taylor 6-16 0-0 13, East 4-10 1-1 9, Edwards 4-18 4-5 12, Lucas 6-15 3-3 17, Waldner 3-6 2-2 8, Agee 1-4 3-6 5, Harris 2-5 0-0 4, Mitchell 3-5 0-0 6, Whitted 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-79 13-17 74.

Halftime-Purdue 46-37. 3-Point Goals-Purdue 8-17 (Moses 6-10, Houser 2-5, Perry 0-2), Penn St. 3-10 (Lucas 2-5, Taylor 1-5). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Purdue 49 (Bays 14), Penn St. 51 (East 10). Assists-Purdue 13 (Houser 5), Penn St. 15 (Taylor 6). Total Fouls-Purdue 17, Penn St. 23. A-4,853.