If the Penn State women’s basketball team wanted a character test to start the 2014-15 season, that wish was granted Friday against Towson in the opening round of the WNIT.
With a lineup filled with newcomers, the Lady Lions found themselves trailing by nine points on their home court during the second half versus the Tigers. However, redshirt freshman guard Lindsey Spann showed a steady hand in her first regular-season game to guide Penn State to a 71-64 victory. Penn State moves to the quarterfinals of the WNIT and will play either Albany or St. Francis-Brooklyn at 2 pm EST Sunday at home.
The Lady Lions (1-0), winners of the past three Big Ten Conference regular-season titles, trailed 48-39 with 12 minutes, 50 seconds after Towson’s Dominque Johnson hit a 3-pointer. Spann, who missed all of last year with an ACL injury, led the comeback and closed with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Tori Waldner, the Lady Lions’ only returning starter and sole senior, had her first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Candice Agee’s jumper with 5:55 left gave Penn State a 57-55 lead it would never relinquish, and Duke transfer Sierra Moore fortified the comeback by finishing with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists in her first game.
Towson (0-1) got a career-high 32 points from Johnson and had the lead for much of the second half, but a scoreless stretch late in the game (from 3:34 to 1:26 remaining) allowed Penn State to move ahead. The Tigers will move to the WNIT consolation round, with their next game Fri., Nov. 21 at a site to be determined.
Penn State and Towson both struggled from the field in the first half, with the Tigers not even able to crack 25 percent shooting. Breonn Hughey did hit a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to trim Penn State’s lead to just 31-29, but the Tigers were not able to sharpen their shooting eye and closed shooting just 32 percent for the game.