No. 6 Penn St. overwhelms Fairleigh Dickinson in rout

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The frantic plea to catch up to Maggie Lucas came just a second too late.

"Steph, in the corner!" a Fairleigh Dickinson coach yelled to guard Stephanie Isaacs in a futile attempt to get to Penn State's star guard before Lucas could spot up for a fall-away 3 from a favorite spot in the left corner.

Lucas scored 24, and the Lady Lions overwhelmed the Knights with backcourt speed and a decided height advantage in a 101-44 victory Sunday to rebound from their first loss of the season.

"It was very important. We talk a lot about what our identity is through the season. From game to game, keep improving," Lucas said. "One game at a time, one practice at a time."

Four other players scored in double figures for the Lady Lions (6-1), who used a 43-11 run over the last 13 minutes of the first half to take control against the Knights (1-5). Coach Coquese Washington injected more speed into the starting lineup after inserting backup point guard Dara Taylor for guard/forward Ariel Edwards.

Danielle Pankey had 15 points to pace the Knights, who trailed by 29 at the half and as much as 59 in the second half.

While it took them a few minutes to get used to the new combination, the Lady Lions gave Fairleigh Dickinson fits with thee three-guard look featuring Lucas, Taylor and starting point guard Alex Bentley.

The 69-65 loss at Miami on Thursday is now just a distant memory.

"I wanted to play faster," Washington said about the three-guard look. "We can play faster and push tempo even more."

Fairleigh Dickinson led 10-7 at 12:53 of the half before star guard Lucas and Penn State turned up the pressure. Lucas ran the floor with boundless energy, often pumping up her arms to rile up the crowd after burning Fairleigh Dickinson from 3-point range. After missing her first two shots, she finished 7 of 14 from the field, including 6 of 9 on 3-point attempts.

With Taylor also hitting shots from the opposite wing, Fairleigh Dickinson coach Pete Cinella said he couldn't afford to spare an extra defender on Lucas.

"They added the second point guard on the floor, and it made it tougher to help off the weak side," Cinella said. "Having three guards on the court makes it a little harder."

After beating Manhattan 53-47 last week for its first win of the year, the Northeast Conference school barely lasted seven minutes against Penn State and its suffocating backcourt speed. Any remote hopes of coming back from a 50-21 halftime deficit ended when Pankey picked up her fourth foul barely a minute into the second half.

Penn State stretched its lead to nearly 50 by midway in the second half. The Big Ten favorites got a confidence boost heading into Thursday's anticipated showdown at No. 2 Connecticut.

Kelsey Cruz added 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting for Fairleigh Dickinson, which shot just 30 percent overall (15 of 50) from the field.

Edwards added 18 off the bench for Penn State, while Taylor had 15. Penn State also dominated in the frontcourt behind 6-foot-3 Talia East (11 points, three blocks), 6-foot-4 Nikki Greene (10 points) and 6-foot-6 freshman Candice Agee (career-highs eight points, nine rebounds).

They shut down 6-foot-1 center Erica Livermore, the Knights' leading scorer (14.4 points) and rebounder (10.8) entering Sunday. She finished with four points on 1 of 4 shooting and six rebounds.

"We weren't able to get the ball to (Livermore) at all," Cinella said. "We're not used to see more than one player that's 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5."

Lucas followed her 3 over Isaacs with a steal off Pankey on the next possession. It was Lucas' turn to drive into the lane and find Gizelle Studevent open on the baseline for a jumper and 22-11 lead with 8:24 in the first half.

It only got worse for Fairleigh Dickinson, which had held its own on the glass early in the first half before getting outrebounded for the game 52-27. Penn State also forced 21 turnovers, including 13 in the first half, and had a dominating 32-4 edge in second-chance points.

After coughing up 29 turnovers last week to the Hurricanes, the Lady Lions were much less charitable on Sunday with just eight turnovers to Fairleigh Dickinson.

"Some of our turnovers haven't been because of pressure. It's been decision-making and trying to squeeze in too much," Washington said. "Playing smarter and playing more within ourselves -- we did a better job of that today."