LINCOLN, Neb. — When Penn State got a second shot at No. 15 Nebraska, the Nittany Lions were ready.
Two weeks after the Cornhuskers rallied to beat Penn State by eight in State College, the Nittany Lions returned the favor, rallying from an early 11-point deficit to win 93-73 on Sunday as Maggie Lucas had 24 points.
|TOP 25 SCORES|
|No. 1 Baylor 77, Texas 59|
|No. 6 Tennessee 87, No. 25 Vanderbilt 64|
|No. 7 Duke 61, Virginia Tech 34|
|No. 9 Kentucky 66, No. 24 South Carolina 58|
|No. 11 Ohio State 64, Michigan State 56|
|No. 13 Miami (Fla.) 60, Florida State 57|
|Penn State 93, No. 15 Nebraska 73|
|No. 17 Purdue 57, Iowa 55|
|No. 18 Georgetown 69, Syracuse 42|
|No. 19 Georgia 68, Mississippi State 51|
|No. 20 Delaware 70, Northeastern 54|
“Since we played Nebraska the first time, we found a way to get them to understand how important it is to play with patience, poise and composure,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. “That’s what we didn’t do the first time. As our team learns and grows, we’ll be able to hopefully do this, by this I mean, go on the road into a tough environment and execute down the stretch of games.”
On Sunday “the stretch” began with the opening possession of the second half. Penn State trailed by six at intermission. But Lucas hit a 3-pointer eight seconds into the second period and the comeback was on.
The Nittany Lions (13-4, 3-2 Big Ten) held Nebraska to just two field goals in the first eight minutes of the second half.
In that stretch Penn State outscored Nebraska 26-9, taking its first lead of the game at 48-46 on Zhaque Gray’s jumper with 18:08 left and going up 64-53 on Lucas’s pull-up 3-pointer with 15:19 remaining.
“I think all of us had fire in our eyes,” said Penn State guard Alex Bentley, who finished with 23 points, five rebounds and three assists. “We just came out very focused. We’ve been focused since we were preparing for this game. It was all focus, preparation and determination to get this win.”
Nebraska (15-2, 4-1) cut the lead to eight on a pair of Jordan Hooper freethrows with 10:30 left, but was unable to get closer. Penn State’s largest lead was 22.
Penn State hit 20 of its 33 second half shots, 61 percent. Nebraska made just 7 of 29 shots. Penn State put up 55 second-half points. Nebraska had been holding teams to 48 points per game at home.
“Penn State, I thought, was hitting all cylinders in the 2nd half,” said Nebraska coach Connie Yori, whose team gave up 90 points for the first time since 2008. “They’re a good execution team with a veteran point guard and good scorers at every position. They do a good job of executing and we could not find a way to make them miss … We lost the game because of our defensive end. We could not find a way to slow them down.”
Nebraska led 24-11 eight minutes into the game and finished the first half on a 6-0 run to lead 44-38. But Bentley said the Nittany Lions knew they’d make a second-half push.
“It was a great win,” she said. “It was probably my favorite game of the season so far just because everybody contributed. Everybody on our the team stepped up and played their roles and they did their roles well. That’s why we got the win.”.
Nebraska had won nine consecutive before Sunday’s loss.
“We got a split with Penn State, I would have taken that to start the year.” Yori said. “We’re not going to win every game, guys. We’re not that darn good. We’re young. We make mistakes. We were lucky to be 15-2 frankly. I feel good about where we are.”