NCAA BASKETBALL: Penn State claims share of title
STATE COLLEGE — A parting gift from Penn State’s four-woman senior class was a share of the school’s third straight Big Ten championship.
The No. 8 Lady Lions’ 77-62 victory over Michigan on Saturday enabled Penn State (22-6, 13-3) to celebrate in a post-game, on-court shower of blue-and-white confetti, and gave coach Coquese Washington a reason to smile.
“It’s like Christmas morning for parents when kids open gifts and the wonderment they have and excitement they have,” Washington said. “It warms my heart to see the players enjoy the experience because they work hard for these championships.
“It’s hard work winning championships. The moment the confetti comes down, I just like watching and enjoying that moment.”
Ariel Edwards scored 21 points and her three senior teammates — Maggie Lucas, Talia East and Dara Taylor — followed with 17, 16 and 11 points, respectively. East also had a game-high seven rebounds.
Penn State can win the title outright on Sunday only if Nebraska loses to Purdue and Michigan State falls to Indiana.
The Lady Lion seniors have won 99 games for Penn State thus far in their careers, and this marks the fourth straight season the Lady Lions have won more than 20 games.
Edwards scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half.
“I was taking what they gave me,” Edwards said. “My coaches always want me to be aggressive and that’s what I try to do. My teammates got me the ball when I was open.”
Taylor had seven assists for Penn State and Lucas four.
Michigan (17-12, 8-8) got 21 points from Shannon Smith and 14 from Madison Ristovski. Siera Thompson added 10 points.
The Wolverines entered the game with a 9-1 record (6-1 Big Ten) in road games, but Penn State pulled away in the second half.
The Lady Lions opened the half with a 19-7 scoring advantage, holding Michigan scoreless for a four-minute span and eventually opening a 63-41 lead.
“It was pretty even back and forth in the first half in the first eight or nine minutes and they went on a stretch where they were scoring and also shooting one-and-one at that point,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes-Arico said.
That started with Lucas, who scored 13 points in the first half but turned her left ankle at the end of the half and added just four more.
“I don’t think too many people believed we could do this,” Lucas said.
“We worked so hard for this. I’m just so happy for the four of us. We have a bond over this championship and the previous ones. It’s great to win another one.”