BLOOMINGTON, Ind. Despite a valiant effort on the defensive end in the first half, the Indiana womens basketball team suffered a 66-49 setback at the hands of No. 5/6 Penn State at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers dipped to 10-11 on the year and 3-7 in Big Ten play, while the Lady Lions improved to 18-3 and 10-0 in conference. The defeat marked the fourth consecutive for Indiana, with three of the four losses coming to No. 8/7 Purdue, No. 14/13 Minnesota and to No. 5/6 Penn State. The fourth loss was to an Ohio State squad that was receiving votes in the Associated Press poll in Columbus.
Indiana hung tough with its defense, but Penn State pressured the Hoosiers into costly turnovers early in the second half to open up a 36-23 advantage and create all the breathing room it needed.
The Hoosiers succeeded in putting the clamps on Penn State All-American Kelly Mazzante (the Big Tens all-time leading scorer for either men or women) in the first half, but Mazzante was able to break free in the second half, scoring 15 points after halftime to finish the game with a game-high 24.
Indiana was able to keep Penn State in its sights, as a pair of Sarah McKay free throws brought the deficit to single-digits at 47-38 with 6:30 remaining in the game, however, the Lady Lions kept the Hoosiers at arms length with timely bucket after timely bucket.
Excellent defense against the Big Tens most second-highest-scoring offense was the key for the Hoosiers in the opening stanza. Indiana limited Penn State to only eight points on 4-of-13 shooting in the opening eight minutes, forcing three Lion turnovers. In fact, Mazzante was held scoreless for the first 12:14 of the game before Jess Strom found her under the basket for an easy deuce.
As good as Indiana was defensively, it struggled equally as much on the offensive end, converting on only three of its first 16 attempts from the field. However, even with the offensive struggles, Indiana took a 17-15 lead after a pair of Sarah McKay free throws with six minutes remaining in the first half.
The two teams traded baskets to give Penn State a 22-21 lead before Mazzante sunk a contested step-back 23-foot three-pointer to send the Lady Lions into the half with a 25-21 lead.
Penn State finished the first half with 11-of-31 shooting from the field (35.5 percent), while the Hoosiers were limited to a 5-of-21 performance (23.8 percent).
The Hoosiers return to action at 2 p.m. Sunday when they host Illinois at Assembly Hall. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for youths 18 and under and free for IU students with valid identification. Indiana will celebrate National Girls and Women In Sports Day Sunday.
The doors to Assembly Hall will open to the public at noon for two hours worth of exciting and educational activities geared towards children of all ages. Fans will have the opportunity to meet and get autographs from other female IU athletes and show off their skills or learn about new sports. In addition, groups from the IU School of HPER, the YMCA, IU Student Foundation, and IU Recreational Sports will join many other groups in the Assembly Hall who will set up interactive booths and displays for kids to learn about the benefits of athletics, education, and being active. Fans may also get their faces painted by Polka Dot the Clown, get IU face tattoos, make a homemade banner supporting the Hoosiers during the game and a whole host of other pre-game activities. This is a fun and educational afternoon for the whole family or large groups or girls.