STATE COLLEGE, PA. – After two very different halves — the first dominating for the visitors, the second putrid — the Gophers women’s basketball team beat Penn State 81-74 on Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams. Sara Scalia scored 22 points and Destiny Pitts 21 for the Gophers (11-1), who led 54-21 at halftime. But that enormous 33-point lead kept shrinking in the second half, eventually to single digits.
“Love our start,” Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said in a postgame radio interview. “… Then things got away from us in the second half. It’s all learning, it’s all getting better. I’ll take a win when we can learn.”
Scalia, a freshman guard from Stillwater, had likely her best game yet. Her 22 points were one shy of her season high — she was 5-for-7 on three-pointers — and she also had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in 37 minutes.
“[Scalia] was tremendous, unbelievable,” Whalen said. “We needed everything from her and she showed up.”
So did Penn State (6-6) for the second half, outscoring the Gophers 19-8 in the third quarter and 34-19 in the fourth.
Kamaria McDaniel led the Nittany Lions with 31 points, 25 in the second half.
The Gophers shot 63.6% in the first half, but just 33.3% in the second.