FREEPORT, Bahamas - The Penn State Lady Lions (4-1, 0-0 Big Ten) used a 22-3 run at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half to erase a nine-point deficit and post a 61-56 win over Oregon State (4-1) in the opening round of the Junkanoo Jam's Freeport Division. Penn State will now face Illinois State (1-3) in the championship game today at 11:30 a.m.
Maggie Lucas celebrated her 22nd birthday with a game-high 17 points to go along with five rebounds and a steal. She was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line to improve to 34-for-35 from the charity stripe this season. Fellow senior Dara Taylor added 10 points, six assists and three steals, while Ariel Edwards had a near double-double with 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Talia East was solid in her second start of the season, going 4-for-6 from the field on the way to nine points and six rebounds. Freshmen Kaliyah Mitchell and Alex Harris each added six rebounds off of the bench.
The squads exchanged scores to open the game with a 5-5 tie with 16:30 left, but Oregon State scored the contest's next eight points to establish a 13-5 lead with 13:46 on the clock. Candice Agee scored the next four points via two free throws and a rebound and putback to close within four (13-9) with 12 minutes left in the first. The Beavers went on an 8-3 run to extend their lead to 21-12 with eight minutes left.
The Oregon State lead remained nine points after several exchanges, until Penn State clicked off a 10-0 run to take a 26-25 lead with 11 seconds left in the half. Lucas scored the first five points of the run with a three-point play and two free throws. East had a rebound and putback and Edwards made one of two free throw attempts to make it a 25-24 Oregon State lead.
Lucas closed the run with two more makes from the free throw line to give the Lions their first lead of the game at 26-25. However, the Beavers connected on a long two-point bucket as time expired to go into the break with a 27-26 lead.
The Lady Lions sustained their momentum from the end of the first half to open the second frame on a 12-1 run to take a 38-28 lead less than three minutes into the half. Tori Waldner opened the scoring for Penn State and Taylor scored the next four points on a pair of layups. After a Beaver free throw, Edwards scored for Penn State and East completed the run with two-straight scores to make it 38-28.
The Beavers fought back with five consecutive points to slice the Lion lead in half (38-33) with just under 15 minutes to play. After an Agee score, the Beavers went on a 10-5 run to close within two at 45-43 with 8:52 on the clock. Mitchell hit four consecutive free throws to extend the Lady Lion lead back to six (49-43), but the Beavers would not go away with a 5-2 run to close within three (51-48) with six minutes to play.
Taylor scored the game's next four points on two free throws and a layup off a great fast break pass from Lucas. Edwards made one of two free throw attempts to extend the Penn State lead to 56-48 with 4:28 remaining. Oregon State closed the gap with the next five points to make it a three-point margin (56-53) with 3:38 left.
Lucas connected on a three-pointer for her first points of the second half and Edwards scored to extend the lead to 61-53 with 2:15 left. The Beavers hit a three-pointer to close out the scoring for the 61-56 final.
Penn State returns to the Bryce Jordan Center for Big Ten/ACC Challenge where it will face Coquese Washington's alma mater Notre Dame on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.