Fighting Irish Handle Lady Lions

No. 10 Penn State falls to No. 4 Notre Dame in Big Ten/ACC Challenge
UNIVERSITY PARK, CENTRE COUNTY – The #11/10 Penn State Lady Lions (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten) were plagued by 22 turnovers and significant foul trouble among their starters as they dropped a 77-67 decision to #5/4 Notre Dame (7-0) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) led the way with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor. The senior guard/forward also added three rebounds and an assist.
Senior point guard Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) tied her season high with 14 points to go along with six assists, three steals and three rebounds. Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) turned in a solid performance as she poured in a career-high 12 points and grabbed eight boards. East was the Blue and White’s most efficient scorer, shooting 4-of-5 from the field and a flawless 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
As a team the Lady Lions shot an impressive 90.9% (20-for-22) from the free throw line. It marks the first time that Penn State has shot better than 90% from the free throw line since shooting 92.9% against North Carolina on Nov. 30, 2011, which was also a Big Ten/ACC Challenge match-up.
After a rather sloppy start from both sides, Edwards opened up the scoring by driving to the rim for a layup. Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride abruptly responded with a layup of her own to level the game at 2-2 with 17:33 left in the first frame. Penn State then reeled off six of the next seven points to jump out to an early 8-3 advantage. The Lady Lions’ frontcourt of Tori Waldner (Milton, Ga.) and East sparked the run. Waldner hit a jumper and finished a layup, while East also converted a layup for the Blue and White.
With just over 14 minutes remaining in the first Taylor scored an old-fashioned three-point play, pushing the Lady Lion lead to six at 13-7, Penn State’s largest of the half. The Irish fought back over the next minute and a half of action, scoring eight-straight points to grab its first lead of the evening at 15-13. During the run, Notre Dame used a trey from Jewell Loyd, a three-point play from Ariel Braker and two free throws from McBride to take the two-point lead.
Freshman forward Alex Harris (Lorain, Ohio) ended the Irish spurt at the free throw line, knocking down both of her attempts to knot the game back up at 15-15. Taylor followed by making a jumper at the 11:27 mark to put the Lady Lions back on top at 17-15.
After Penn State regained the lead, the Irish took over for the rest of the half. Notre Dame outscored the Blue and White 27-6 to take a 19-point lead at 42-23 with just over a minute left in the opening frame. The Lady Lions closed out the half on a positive note with Edwards and freshman guard Keke Sevillian (Goodrich, Mich.) combining to score the last five points of the half, cutting the visitor’s lead to 14 at the halftime break (42-28).
Penn State wasted little time cutting into the Notre Dame to begin the second stanza, as Edwards hit a shot from beyond the arc to trim the Irish lead to 11 and extend the Lady Lion run to 8-0. The Irish quickly halted Penn State’s scoring streak and immediately began one of its own. Natalie Achonwa and Taya Reimer each scored four points each over the next two minutes of play while the Irish defense held the Lady Lions scoreless to push their lead back to 19 (50-31) with 14:48 left in the contest.
Despite the large deficit, Penn State refused to give in and once again made a run to get back into the game. With Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) on the bench with four fouls, the Lady Lions outscored the visitors 11-1 in the next five minutes of action to nearly cut the deficit in half at 52-42. Edwards contributed four points and Taylor connected from distance, while East and Waldner each chipped in two during the offensive outburst that forced a Notre Dame timeout at the 10:26 mark.
The two sides traded blows over the next five minutes of play with each team scoring 12 points to move the score to 64-54. After a made jumper from Achonwa, Lucas answered by canning her first three of the evening, drawing the Lions within nine for the first time of the second half and extending her streak of three-point baskets made to 42-straight games.
Unfortunately for the Lady Lions, the nine-point deficit is as close as Penn State would come for the remainder of the evening. The Fighting Irish made seven free throws within the last four minutes of play to hold Penn State at bay and capture a 77-67 victory.
PSU Athletics Communications
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