January 14, 2010

Lady Lions Beat Iowa in Comeback

Penn State was on the ropes Thursday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Lady Lions were struggling to sink even the most rudimentary layup, while the Hawkeyes were enjoying leads of nine and 11, deep into the second half. More than a few fans thought the game was over. Turns out that was hardly the case.

Down 49-40 with 9:08 remaining in the game, Penn State's Alex Bently sunk a three-pointer to counter a Hawkeye three moments before. It was just the start of the Lady Lions' frantic, yet incredible comeback. Over the next 1:55, Bently (15 pts) and Tyra Grant (20 pts) tore apart the Hawkeyes defense for an 11-0 run.

Iowa would regain momentum on a Kelly Krei trey, but it would last a mere 18 seconds, when Penn State's Julia Trogele dropped in a three of her own, which turned into a devastating four-point play on a foul. Penn State never trailed the rest of the game.

At the start of the game, Penn State was shooting in the low 30s, going an atrocious 1-9 on three-point attempts. The Lady Lions finished the game shooting better than 41 percent (26-63), including 6-16 from beyond the arch--five of the final seven three-pointers fell true.

The Lady Lions (12-4, 4-2 Big Ten) also dominated the Hawkeyes (8-9, 1-5 Big Ten) on the boards (44-35), scoring points off turnovers (16-10), and got a crucial nine bench points to Iowa's four. Also--I hope the Fighting DeChellises are reading this--Penn State shot 76.9 percent from the line, including several at the end to put the game out of Iowa's reach. The Lady Lions hold onto second place in the Big Ten.

The Lady Lions have now surpassed their 2008-09 win total. A game like this, in the face of adversity, will do wonders for a young team. Penn State has three of the next four games at home--Michigan State (11-5, 2-3 Big Ten), Illinois (11-4, 2-3 Big Ten), Purdue (8-8, 3-2 Big Ten)--all of which are very tough opponents, but hardly invincible. The schedule only gets tougher once February rolls around, so these next few games could forecast the rest of the season.

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