Blue White Illustrated

Jan. 14 Newsletter

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 7 of 9

The Lady Lions are fed up, as you would expect. They are getting tired of all the turnovers, the missed shots, the defen- sive lapses, the overall inconsistency. Mostly, they're fed up with all the losses. Last Saturday against visiting Rutgers, Penn State committed 38 turnovers – a figure that coach Coquese Washington called "probably insur- mountable" – in a 71-51 loss to the No. 24 Scarlet Knights. It was the team's 13th loss in 16 games and its sixth in a row. Not only that, it was the team's fifth double- digit loss in a row. Penn State hasn't been able to keep things close with any of its Big Ten opponents, at least not for 40 minutes. The Lady Lions are now five games into their conference schedule, and they have lost them all by an average margin of 23 points. Their scoring differ- ential for the entire season is less un- sightly (-6.1 points per game), but that's still the worst figure in the Big Ten and 269th out of 343 teams in Division I. None of which is sitting well with Penn State's players. "I think they're ticked off because they lost and they're competitors," Washing- ton said following the loss to the Scarlet Knights. "They played hard and they competed against people they know. They know these kids. They compete in AAU and they are familiar with each other. So they are ticked off. "We expected to win," she continued. "We came into this game expecting to win, and when your expectation is to win and you don't, you're not happy. So yeah, we are ticked off. We are disappointed. We feel like we let one slip away. We feel like we could have won this game and we should have won this game. We didn't earn it. We didn't perform that way that we expected to perform, and that is dis- appointing and frustrating." Known for their scrappy defense under coach C. Vivian Stringer, the Scarlet Knights aggressively pressed Penn State, a team whose starting lineup that after- noon featured two sophomores and a redshirt freshman. Guard Syessence Davis had 10 steals, prompting Stringer to call her "our player of the game" even though she finished with only one point. The Lady Lions' turnover total was their highest in one game since the 1991- 92 season, and it was too much to over- come. After falling behind by 13 in the first half, Penn State pulled to within four early in the second, only to lose its mo- mentum. It turned the ball over five times during an 8-0 run that allowed Rutgers to regain control of the game for good. Turnovers have been a problem throughout the season, a consequence of having to rely on a redshirt freshman point guard with few experienced players around her. Lindsey Spann has been the team's starter all season long, and Big Ten opponents have looked to exploit her youth. She's got more turnovers (68) than assists (55) through 16 games, and as a team, Penn State is averaging 19.4 turnovers per game, worst in the Big Ten and 246th nationally. But Spann has also been the team's most reliable scoring threat. Her average of 16.3 points per game ranks ninth in the Big Ten, and she has led the Lady Lions in scoring in 12 games this season. It's been a learning experience for the 5-foot-6 guard from Laurel, Md. She suffered a torn ACL in a summer basket- ball game shortly after arriving on cam- pus in 2013 and was forced to sit out her true freshman season, but she has come on strong in her first year of action. She is one of only two players to have started every game for Penn State, and her com- petitiveness has sparked a team that has had a frustrating penchant for slow starts. "You have to play with heart. You can't J A N U A R Y 1 4 , 2 0 1 5 B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M 8 Looking for answers Lady Lions head to Nebraska in hope of breaking a six-game losing streak W O M E N ' S B A S K E T B A L L M A T T   H E R B   | M A T T @ B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M CONTESTED SHOT Waldner (left) and Agee (right) have started a combined 24 games in the Lady Lions' reconfigured frontcourt. Photo by Bill Zimmerman

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