By Todd Hummel
---- — LEWISBURG -- A quick glance at the score of Wednesday night's women's basketball game between Bucknell and No. 16 Penn State won't shock you.
Yes, the Nittany Lions won going away, 78-54, at Sojka Pavilion. But it was the performance by the Bison that stuck out.
"I can't say I'm disappointed because of the way we competed. This a team that has scored 100 points four times this season and we took them out of a lot of the things they did," Bucknell coach Kathy Fedorjaka said. "We committed 38 turnovers up there last year and we wanted to be at 20 or less (Bucknell committed 20). We tied them on the glass (each team had 38 rebounds)."
There was just one problem for Bucknell. The Bison (2-10) struggled to hit shots against the Nittany Lions (10-2), but not for the lack of open looks.
"If we had hit half of the open shots that we hit in practice we would have been in good shape," Bucknell sophomore guard Shelby Romine said. "We have to carry our confidence over from practice into the games."
Bucknell shot just 23.5 percent from the floor in the first half, including 1-of-10 from behind the 3-point arc. For the game, the Bison shot 34 percent and just 4-of-18 behind the 3-point arc.
There were many positives for a Bucknell team that has lost 10 of its last 11 games. The Bison got a big night from Lindsay Hortatuck, who had a team-high 10 rebounds. Hortabuck, a 6-foot-1 forward, battled the entire evening inside with Penn State's front line, which starts three girls over 6-foot-2 and brings two girls over 6-foot-3 off the bench.
"Going against a bigger team doesn't worry me. I like the challenge," Hortatuck said.
"We played very physical inside and did tremendous work," Fedorjaka said.
Penn State led by just three points early in the first half, but coach Coquese Washington switched to a 2-3 zone defense. That sparked a 16-5 run that saw the Nittany Lions open up a 25-11 advantage after an Alex Bentley layup with 7:14 left in the first half.
"The zone allowed us to go to a bigger lineup," Washington said. "It allowed us to take advantage of our size and take control of the game."
Bucknell would cut the lead to 14 twice early in the second half, but the Nittany Lions used a 15-5 run to take a commanding 51-27 lead on Zhaque Gray's 3-pointer with 15:15 left in the game.
Maggie Lucas scored 22 points to lead the Nittany Lions in their final non-league contest before Big Ten play starts next week. Lucas shot 7-of-10 from the floor, including 4-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc. It was Lucas' fourth straight game topping 20 points for Penn State, which is now off until Dec. 30 when it opens conference play against Nebraska.
"Coach and I have talked about my shot selection a lot and I don't think I forced many shots (tonight)," Lucas said.
Bucknell (2-10) never got the lead under double digits again.
Nikki Greene and Bentley each had 11 points for Penn State.
Felicia Mgbada led Bucknell with 12 points.
Note: Bucknell was without freshman Amy Zehner. Zehner, from Tamaqua, leads the Bison in scoring at 9.8 points per game. She had two 20-point games earlier this season. Fedorjaka said that Zehner is dealing with some personal issues and has the full support of the coaching staff and teammates. Fedorjaka hopes to have Zehner back in uniform later in the season.