WHO’S NEXT?: Nittany Lions knock out Fighting Illini in Big Ten Tournament opener

Teniya Page (11) of Penn State University Women’s Basketball shoots the ball during an NCAA Big Ten Conference Tournament opening game against Illinois on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. The Lady Nittany Lions won, 83-57. (Photo courtesy of Penn State Basketball)

INDIANAPOLIS — Behind a Lady Lion Big Ten Tournament record 38 points from junior Teniya Page (Chicago, Ill.) the Penn State women’s basketball team earned a decisive 83-57 victory over the University of Illinois to open the 2018 Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Page recorded her 15th-straight double digit scoring effort with a game-high 38 points in the opener, which marked her seventh career 30-point game. She is tied for No. 2 all-time at Penn State with seven games of 30-or-more points, equaling Maggie Lucas’ total from 2011-14.

The 38 points marked just the fourth 30-point game for Penn State in the 25th edition of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament and she joins Kelly Mazzante as the only other Lady Lion with multiple 30-point games in the event. Mazzante scored 30 vs. Ohio State and 34 vs. Wisconsin during the 2002 event. Page added a 35-point outburst last season vs. Minnesota in the second round.

In the Big Ten Tournament record books, Page’s 38-point effort ranks No. 2 all-time, trailing only Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell’s 42-point outburst vs. Rutgers in 2016. Page now owns the No. 2 and is tied for the No. 4 highest-scoring efforts in Big Ten Tournament history. Her 35 points against the Golden Gophers last season are tied with five other Big Ten student-athletes at No. 4 following Wednesday’s tournament games.

Along with the scoring mark, Page also broke Mazzante’s mark for most field goals in the Big Ten Tournament game, hitting 14 shots from the field – including four 3-pointers. She topped the mark of 12 which Mazzante set vs. Wisconsin on March 3, 2002.

Page’s 1,563 career points also moved her into the No. 12 spot in Lady Lion scoring laurels as she passed Tanya Garner (1,538; 1988-91). Furthermore, Page’s career-best 14 field goal of the day moved her into the No. 17 spot on career charts, passing Lisa Shepherd (523; 1998-2001) and Carol Walderman (524; 1981-83).

Finally, Page’s six made free throws moves her past Suzie McConnell (371; 1985-88) for No. 10 on the career made free throw charts with 373 makes.

Sophomore Amari Carter (Washington, D.C.) and freshman Alisia Smith (Lansing, Mich.) also notched double-digit scoring efforts for the Blue and White as Carter netted 10 and Smith added 11. Carter and Page paced the Lady Lions with four assists each and both Page and Siyeh Frazier (Detroit, Mich.) had a team-best two steals.

Penn State out-rebounded the Fighting Illini 41-37 with Carter grabbing a team-high seven boards and De’Janae Boykin (Springdale, Md.) adding six to the Lady Lion effort.

Penn State improved to 27-21 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament, including a 6-2 mark against Illinois.

Alex Wittinger and Brandi Beasley combined for 42 of Illinois’ 57 points as both netted 21 points. Wittinger led all players on the glass with 11 rebounds in her double-double effort, while Beasley dished out a team-high five assists.

Turning Point

With 5:31 left in the second quarter

A Smith layup would pull Penn State within four points, 24-20, and spark a 15-0 run over the next four minutes. Smith’s two points were the only points not scored by Page in the scoring spurt, as she reeled off 13-straight tallies to push Penn State to a nine-point lead. Page scored via layup, followed by three free throws, then a jumper. A 3-pointer was followed by a jumper and she capped the scoring run with one more free throw.

Difference Makers

Penn State

-G Teniya Page — Netted a game-best 38 points, tied a team-high four assists, grabbed three rebounds and tied a team-best two steals.

-G Amari Carter –Had a team-high seven rebounds, while scoring 10 points and tying a team-best four assists.

-F Alisia Smith –Scored 11 points with four makes from the floor and grabbed five rebounds for the Blue and White.

-Bench Production –The Penn State bench outscored the Illinois bench 19-3.

-Fast Break Action -The Lady Lions scored 24 points off of fast breaks while allowing Illinois to score just 18.

Illinois

-F Alex Wittinger –Tied a team-high 21 points, going 9-for-16 from the floor, while grabbing a team-best 11 rebounds

-G Brandi Beasley –Tied a team-best 21 points with three 3-pointers and handed out a team-high five assist while pulling down four rebounds.

-G Petra Holesinska –Scored six points and had one rebound and one assist

First Quarter

The Lady Lions opened the 2018 Big Ten Tournament winning the tip and scoring off the first possession as Carter made a jumper, scoring the first points of the game for Penn State for the ninth time this season. The two teams exchanged baskets following the opening tip before the Blue and White took a five-point advantage on a Page 3-pointer. Two free throws from Illinois knotted the score at 10-10 with 5:21 remaining in the quarter before the Penn State took back the lead on a Kamaria McDaniel (Inkster, Mich.) trey. The Lady Lions went through a 3:31 scoring draught that resulted in an 8-2 run for Illinois as it took an 18-15 edge to end the first 10 minutes of play.

Illinois 18, Penn State 15

Second Quarter

The Fighting Illini continued their scoring run into the start of the second quarter before Page hit a 3-pointer to bring Penn State within four, 22-18, with 8:21 to play in the half. Penn State worked its way back and went up by one when Page was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three shots from the charity stripe with just under five minutes left in the half. Page’s free throws were in the midst of an 18-5 run for the Blue and White, with Page scoring 13-straight points at the end of the run, which allowed it to take a 33-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Penn State 33, Illinois 27

Third Quarter

Penn State continued to build on its lead in the third quarter, going up 44-36, heading into the media timeout with 5:11 left to play. Page drove the Lady Lion scoring effort as her two free throws with 2:15 left in the quarter allowed Penn State to eclipse the 50-point mark and extend its lead to 51-38 over Illinois. The two teams exchanged points heading into the closing minutes as Penn State took the 58-43 lead into the final quarter of play.

Penn State 58, Illinois 43

Fourth Quarter

The Fighting Illini looked to close the gap when they opened the quarter on a 6-0 run, but a bucket from Jaylen Williams (Eaton, Mass.) would allow Penn State to maintain a 16-point advantage with 6:04 to play. The Blue and White worked its lead to 23 when Carter made a quick layup for the Lady Lions before Illinois answered on its next possession on the other end of the floor. Penn State maintained its 20-point lead in the closing minutes of the game to earn the 83-57 victory over Illinois to open tournament play.

Penn State 83, Illinois 57

Up Next

The Lady Lions advance to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament and will take on No. 6 Michigan Thursday, March 1 at approximately 9 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

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