Sunday’s box score
No. 14 Penn St. 62, Wichita St. 56
Price’s final game
There was a brief moment immediately after the loss where senior Michelle Price looked like she had comprehended her career as a Shocker was over.
Tears were brimming from her eyes as she exited after finishing with a team-high eight rebounds to go along with four points as the team’s lone senior.
But when she emerged from the locker room, Price was not emotionally devastated. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“It hit me there for a bit, but now I’m OK,” Price said. “It will probably hit me later again, but I’m just so proud of my team. This is just another step in the program. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
After entering a program picked to finish as a cellar-dweller in the Missouri Valley, Price ended her career leading WSU to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and nearly to a historic upset.
“It’s unbelievable,” Price said. “Back then we were just dreaming about going to the NCAAs and now we’re actually here and it’s amazing. I’m so proud of how the program turned out.”
Wichita State employed a diamond-and-one defense, dispatching one defender to essentially face-guard Big Ten Player of the Year Maggie Lucas while the other stayed near the lane in a diamond formation.
Adams was pleased with the execution, as Lucas finished 8 for 18 from the field with a game-high 22 points and three turnovers.
“I thought we executed defensively exactly how we wanted to,” Adams said. “We made them take tough shots and take tough looks at the rim. We just had to board the ball.”
Penn State finished with 17 offensive rebounds, and WSU was gashed inside by 6-foot-3 posts Talia East (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Ariel Edwards (17 points, five rebounds).
“It was just the little details, like boxing out or possessions on offense where we got kind of sloppy,” WSU junior Kelsey Jacobs said.
No surprise here
When the bracket was released and Penn State coach Coquese Washington saw her team would be playing Wichita State, she knew to expect a battle.
“That’s a tough first-round game,” Washington said. “They are a really good team. We did not have any misconceptions coming into this game about the type of team they were and what they could do.”
Wichita State registered the season’s finest stretch of play when it reeled off an 18-2 run to put the three-time reigning Big Ten champs in an 11-point hole on its home court in the first half.
Penn State players admitted to being in some shock with what was unfolding, but that was what motivated them to return the favor in the second half when it scored 17 unanswered points.
“They’re a very, very good team,” Lucas said. “We have a lot of respect for them. They just kept fighting back, so we knew we had to keep that on and be ready for this to come down to the wire.”
Wichita State felt proud of what it did accomplish in the game, but without a win to show fir it, those accomplishments felt hollow.
“It’s very motivating for us,” Jacobs said. “But right now it’s just kind of a bummer.”