Lady Lions Pound Purdue

Purdue guard Sharika Webb dribbled with her back to the basket in front of the Boilermakers&#146; bench, trying to set up the offense. <P>She kept close watch of Penn State&#146;s Amber Bland, who was guarding her. However, what she didn&#146;t see was Jess Strom swooping in behind her for her fifth steal of the game. Strom&#146;s ensuing layup gave the Lady Lions a 45-38 lead with 10:22 left in the second half and prompted a Purdue timeout.

Box Score (pdf format)

The Lady Lions would only build on that lead as they defeated No. 24 Purdue 77-54 at the Bryce Jordan Center Thursday night to remain undefeated atop the Big Ten (6-0, 11-6 overall).

The game was a tale of two halves. The Lady Lions entered halftime with a 29-28 lead, but Penn State women’s basketball coach Rene Portland said she wasn’t particularly pleased with her team’s play during the first 20 minutes.

“I went in at halftime and said we just over-coached them, and to just go out and play basketball,” Portland said.

That’s exactly what Penn State did as the Lady Lions outscored Purdue 48-26 in the second half. Strom led the Lady Lions with 23 points to go along with five assists and five steals. Tanisha Wright, the conference’s leading scorer, chipped in with 22 points and five rebounds. She said the Lady Lions knew Purdue wouldn’t back down, so Penn State simply wanted to get a lead in the second half and hold it.

“I don’t know if we [her and Strom] felt like we had to take over,” Wright said. “We just needed a calm presence, and Jess provided that.”

Going into the game, Purdue was averaging 20.9 turnovers per game, while Penn State averaged 14.1. However, in the first half, the Lady Lions turned the ball over three more times than the Boilermakers. It didn’t take long for them to turn that around, though, as Penn State turned the ball over just once in the second half, while Purdue turned it over nine times.

The Boilermakers struggled to get into a rhythm offensively all night. Their leading scorer, forward Erin Lawless, came into the game averaging 15.3 points per game, but her first point didn’t come until the 11:10 mark of the second half. Lawless’ first field goal came with 5:05 remaining in the game, as she was limited to just five points, a season low.

Purdue got scoring from an unlikely source in forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, who came into the game averaging 6.8 points per game, but managed a season-high 16 against Penn State and kept her team in it in the first half.

Purdue coach Kristy Curry said she wanted the players to get the ball to Wisdom-Hylton more, but it wasn’t working.

“We were emphasizing that as a staff,” she said. “When they want to listen, that’ll be a positive. I thought she [Wisdom-Hylton] was the only one who showed up tonight and wasn’t scared.”

Curry also said that her team’s inexperience showed in the second half. She said she hopes her team can learn from the performances of Wright and Strom, and build on the lopsided defeat.

“Take a picture of it,” she said. “Maybe it was a Kodak moment for us.”

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