COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Penn State coach Coquese Washington was thrilled to pull out a road victory in a tough enviornment.
The ninth-ranked Lady Lions trailed by five points with about six minutes left before rallying to beat No. 16 Texas A&M 63-58 on Wednesday night.
"This means a lot," Lady Lions coach Coquese Washington said. "When you can go on the road in a tough environment - and Texas A&M is one of the toughest places to play in the country — and not play your best basketball and still come away with a win, that's a positive for us."
Alex Bentley scored 14 of her 21 points in the second half, and Maggie Lucas added 18 points.
"We were able to get out in transition (late) and get some easy baskets," Washington said. "Even though we were down . I always felt like we were in striking distance."
Junior center Kelsey Bone led the Aggies with 16 points and 15 rebounds, but threw away two balls in the last minute in the five-point loss. Karla Gilbert added 10 points for A&M.
"Physically they out-toughed us the last five minutes of the game," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "And we just made some costly turnovers."
Texas A&M led 56-51 with 6:24 left before the Lady Lions outscored the Aggies 12-2 the rest of the way. Texas A&M committed 23 turnovers after having only nine in the first half.
"(Bone) is a fantastic player, and she's got in great shape from the last time I saw her, which was her freshman year at South Carolina," Washington said of one of the top recruits in the nation who started her career at South Carolina. "She's playing much more confidently than she did as a freshman, and in the first half she was a handful for us."
Bone had 10 points and eight rebounds over the first 20 minutes. Penn State had 14 turnovers at the break but finished with 19. The Aggies outrebounded the Lady Lions 49-42, but Penn State outscored A&M 16-6 on the fast break.
"That used to be us on the fast break," said Blair, who won a national title in 2011 with a much different, more veteran team than his current bunch.
Seven of the Aggies' 15 players are freshmen. Penn State is a veteran team that returns four starters from last season's 26-7 team.
"The difference between juniors and seniors and freshmen is the (veteran) players want the ball, they don't turn it over and they make the right plays," Blair said. "We've got kids right now who can't remember plays."
Added Washington of the Aggies' green lineup: "They're young, and they're going to get better as the season goes on."