COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Maggie Lucas had 23 points, including 12 during a 21-3 run, to lead No. 9 Penn State past Ohio State 74-54 on Sunday.
Dara Taylor and Talia East each added 12 points for the Nittany Lions (18-5, 9-2 Big Ten), who took over the top spot in the conference a day earlier when Michigan State lost at Nebraska. They had won six in a row before a 73-70 loss to Iowa on Thursday night.
Raven Ferguson and Ameryst Alston each scored 16 points for the Buckeyes (14-13, 4-7), who have lost six of eight. Alston, fourth in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.4 points a game, was held out of the starting lineup after she showed up late for the morning shootaround, held during a snow squall.
Penn State has won the last five meetings with the Buckeyes.
Ahead by two points at the half after taking a 12-3 run into the break, Penn State took control early in the second half.
Taylor tossed in a 3 from the left baseline on the first possession and, after three missed shots and a turnover by Ohio State, Lucas hit a perimeter jumper for a 43-36 lead. Lucas then followed two more Ohio State misses with baskets — one a step-back 15-footer and the other a layup in transition — to push the lead to 11.
On the heels of the spurt to finish the half, the Lions ran off the first nine points of the second half.
Scoreless for the first 4:27 of the half, the Buckeyes picked up the next five points but couldn’t solve Penn State’s zone defense. Two Lucas free throws, a fast-break layup by Edwards, Peyton Whitted’s follow of her own miss and Lucas’ assist pass to Taylor for a layup gave the Lions a 59-44 lead with just over 8 minutes left.
The outcome was never in doubt again.
Ohio State shot just 28 percent from the field (17 of 61) to Penn State’s 49 percent (27 of 55).
The Nittany Lions scored on their final three possessions of the half to lead 38-36 after trailing by seven points.
Down 26-22 after East hit a turnaround 5-footer in the paint at the 7:15 mark, the Buckeyes put together an 11-0 run. Ferguson hit four straight free throws in the spurt, with Ellerbe hitting a 3 and Ashley Adams and Alston each hitting a bucket.
But Penn State bounced back, holding Ohio State without a basket for the final 4:46 of the half.
The Nittany Lions regained the lead when Lucas popped in a high, arching 3 off a quick transition off a Buckeyes turnover. They closed the half by scoring 12 of the last 15 points.
Lucas had 13 points with East adding 10. The Lions, who totaled just 13 turnovers in the earlier meeting, had 10 at the break.
Despite sitting out the first 4 minutes, Alston had 11 for the Buckeyes.
Penn State had held them to a season-low 42 points in the first meeting this season, but the Buckeyes were just six points shy of that at halftime.
It was also an important game for the Buckeyes, with some bracketologists projecting them into the NCAA tournament based on their strength of schedule and victories over four top-50 RPI teams.
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