Lady Lions breeze past NC Central
BERKELEY, Calif. – The Penn State women’s basketball offense came to life as the Lady Lions picked up a dominant 92-68 victory over North Carolina Central Saturday afternoon to wrap up the Cal Classic at Haas Pavillion.
Juniors Alisia Smith and Kamaria McDaniel both put together career nights to lead the PSU offense to a season-high 92 points. McDaniel finished with a career-best 27 points, while Smith went for a career-high 22 points. Sophomore Lauren Ebo rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Six points from Smith helped Penn State get out to a quick 11-4 lead over the Eagles five minutes into the game.
Penn State continued to roll, shooting 53.8 percent in the opening quarter while holding the Eagles to a 26.7 percent clip as the Lady Lions took an 18-10 lead through the first term.
N.C. Central was within seven at 22-15 five minutes into the second quarter before freshman Anna Camden drilled a three-pointer and Smith and McDaniel converted back-to-back conventional three-point plays.
The 9-0 PSU streak put the Lady Lions ahead 31-15 with 4:02 left on the first-half clock.
The Eagles answered with a 7-0 spurt, but Penn State punched right back as six points from McDaniel helped comprise a 12-0 Lady Lion run that put the PSU edge at 43-22 with one minute left in the second quarter.
N.C. Central tossed in two more baskets, but freshman Mya Bembry ended the half with a steal and buzzer-beating layup to give Penn State a 46-26 lead at halftime.
Penn State continued to cruise in the third quarter, working its lead to 23 at 60-37 with just under three minutes to play in the stanza.
N.C. Central closed the quarter on a 14-7 streak, but Penn State still maintained a strong lead, 67-51, heading into the final term.
It was all Lady Lions in the fourth quarter as Penn State out-scored the Eagles 25-17 in the final term to pick up the 92-68 win.
Penn State scored 90-plus points for the first time since Dec. 10, 2016 in a 91-62 win over Pittsburgh. McDaniel and Smith marked the first pair of Penn State players to score 20 points in one game since Jan. 14, 2018 at Wisconsin when Amari Carter and Jaida Travascio-Green both went for 20-plus. Smith’s career-high 22 points bested her previous high of 17 that was set on Nov. 21, 2018 against North Dakota. McDaniel scored 20-plus points for the second time this season. She stretched her double-digit scoring streak to 14-straight games dating back to last season.
All 11 dressed players saw action in the game.
FROM THE SOURCE
Head Coach Carolyn Kieger
“I thought we did a great job with shot selection tonight. We talked about getting our post players the ball after yesterday’s game. I thought we did a great job with awareness of that tonight – getting Alisia 12 shots, Lauren Ebo was 5-for-6. I think we need to play that inside-outside game.”
“Our tempo in the second half was more of the pace that we’re trying to play. Kamaria did a great job pushing pace and attacking the rim with some force and some purpose.”
“Obviously we have to fix our assist-to-turnover ratio. I know that comes from youth and from learning a new system, but that can’t be an excuse anymore and we have to learn how to solve that.”
Penn State returns home Thursday to host in-state foe Pittsburgh in the 2019 edition of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. from the Bryce Jordan Center.