Lady Lions outlast Wichita State in NCAA first round

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The No. 3 seed Penn State Lady Lions (23-7, 13-3) used a 17-0 run to open the second half to pull out a hard-fought 62-56 victory over No. 14 seed Wichita State (26-6, 14-4 Missouri Valley) Sunday in the NCAA Tournament first round matchup. The Lady Lions will face No. 11 seed Florida in the NCAA Tournament Second Round on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. Senior guard/forward Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) scored her 1,000th career point in the win to become the 36th Penn State player to reach the milestone.

Like through most of the season, seniors Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.), Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Edwards came up with huge performances when the Lady Lions needed it most. Lucas led the team in scoring with 22 points, including three makes from distance, and pulled down nine rebounds to power the Blue and White on the offensive end. Lucas added two assists and two steals to round out her stellar performance.

East recorded the fifth double-double of her career and first in the NCAA Tournament with 13 points and a season-best 13 rebounds. The senior scored four of her 13 points with under 1:20 left in the game to hold off the Shockers' late rally to help salt away the win. Additionally, she rejected a pair of shots to become the eighth player in program history to block 100 shots.

Edwards turned in another solid performance as she finished with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting. She scored the first four points of the second half to spur on the Lady Lion run. Edwards also added five rebounds and three assists to complete her day.

The Lady Lions came out of the gate with tenacious defense to open the first round matchup, holding Wichita State to 1-of-7 shooting to open the game. The strong play on the defensive end allowed Penn State to open the contest with a five-point advantage over the first five minutes with a 7-2 lead. Edwards led the early charge with three points and Lucas and East each chipped in layups for the first seven Lady Lion points.

The Shockers then settled into the game and found an offensive rhythm, rattling off a 14-0 run to grab a nine-point advantage (16-7) at the 9:50 mark in the first frame. Wichita State shot 6-of-8 during the stretch, including a 2-for-4 effort from distance.

Taylor converted a fastbreak opportunity to end the Shockers' run and make it a seven-point game. The two sides traded buckets over the next four minutes and Wichita State held a 20-13 lead with five minutes left in the half.

A three-point make from the Shockers' Michaela Dapprich extended Wichita State's lead to 10 points (23-13) before Lucas took over the game. The senior immediately responded by connecting on back-to-back treys, cutting the Shockers' lead to four. After Wichita State split a pair from the free throw line, an Edwards layup and Lucas jumper made it a one-point game at 24-23 with 2:42 remaining in the opening frame. The Shockers closed out the frame by scoring six of the last eight points to take a 30-25 lead into the intermission.

The Lady Lions looked like a completely different team coming out of the halftime break, hitting seven of their first 11 shots from the field in a 17-0 run to open the second stanza and take a 42-30 lead with 13:18 left. Edwards opened the half with two consecutive layups followed by back-to-back old fashioned three-point plays from Lucas and East, sending the crowd into a frenzy. East and Lucas scored two more points apiece before Lucas capped the impressive run with her third trey of the game.

Dapprich finally got the Shockers on the board nearly eight minutes into the frame, knocking down a three to cut the Lady Lions' lead to nine at 42-33 and ending the Lady Lion run. Over the next five minutes of action, both teams traded makes from the field and Penn State held a 48-40 lead at the under-eight minutes media timeout at the 7:21 mark.

Both teams continued to play even, as Penn State held on to its lead at the 3:43 mark (56-49). The eight Lady Lion points came courtesy of Peyton Whitted (Suwanee, Ga.), Edwards and Tori Waldner (Milton, Ga.). The Shockers refused to go away, knocking down two free throws followed by a big three-pointer from Dapprich to make it a one-possession game at 56-54 with 1:53 remaining on the clock.

Penn State got fouled off a made layup from East to increase its lead back to four points, but the senior was unable to complete the three-point play. Wichita State then got fouled and hit two free throws of its own to make the score 58-56 with 1:18 left in the game.

East once again came up with a huge play for the Blue and White, converting another layup at the rim while getting fouled to push the lead back up to four points (60-56). East missed the free throw but Penn State's Kaliyah Mitchell (Stone Mountain, Ga.) hauled in a huge rebound allowing the Lady Lions to keep possession of the ball, which led to Lucas being fouled, sending one of the NCAA's best free throw shooter to the free throw line. Lucas calmly knocked down both attempts to ice away the 62-56 victory. 

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Last Updated March 28, 2014