Lucas scored 23 of her 28 points in the second half and Ariel Edwards scored 19 of her career-high 24 points in the first half to help the Lady Lions hold off the pesky Titans 80-72 on Friday at the Cal State Northridge tournament.
Lucas scored six points in the second half’s first five minutes then hit some late shots to seal the victory, including a 3-pointer with 1:31 to play.
Detroit employed a triangle-and-two defense trying to contain Lucas and Alex Bentley, who take “75 percent of their shots,” said Audrey Matteson.
Detroit coach Autumn Rademacher said the Titans’ plan was to shut down those two and dare anyone else to beat them.
“We wanted to hang around and we couldn’t let those two beat us,” Rademacher said, “so let’s lock those two down and see if the rest can carry their No. 6 ranking.”
Edwards answered the challenge early. While Detroit focused on Bentley and Lucas, Edwards found herself with more than enough space to take midrange jumpers.
“I never played a game when I was that wide open,” she said. “I have struggled with my jump shot, so it was exciting for it to click.”
Edwards said she had been coming to practice an hour earlier each day to take extra jumpers and work on her follow-through. Lady Lions coach Coquese Washington said it’s not the number of extra shots that has helped; it’s the sheer repetition.
“Our kids got a little more comfortable at figuring out the triangle-and-two,” Washington said.
It proved necessary because Edwards was the sole Lady Lion who had success from the field in the first half. Through the first 10 minutes, the Lady Lions missed all six layups and made just one of their first six 3-pointers. Edwards scored 11 of her team’s first 17 points.
Lucas broke the Titan defense by getting out in transition because, she said, “it wasn’t going to be there for me in the halfcourt game. “… Any new experience, you have to learn from it.”
Edwards and Lucas were the only two Lady Lions to make outside shots with any regularity.They combined to shoot 19 of 30 from the field. The rest of the team was 11 of 42, which helped Detroit hold a 46-31 rebounding advantage. But the Titans also committed 25 turnovers, compared to just 10 for Penn State (4-0).
Matteson scored a career-best 20 points, Shareta Brown scored 16 points with 15 rebounds, and Demeisha Fambro scored a season-best 17 points for Detroit (2-2).
“Terrible defense,” Washington said. “We’ve got to do a better job all over: containing the ball, rebounding the ball. We certainly got to get better, and we will.”