UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State women's basketball coach Coquese Washington has delivered a consistent message to her team's bench players.
"I've been talking to them a lot and telling them that we need everybody," Washington said. "They have to come into the game and make an impact."
The group got its chance Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Maggie Lucas scored 17 of her game-high 24 points in the first half and the No. 19 Lady Lions used a pair of early runs to jump-start a 76-44 blowout of Indiana. Nikki Greene added 17 points for Penn State (17-5, 7-3 Big Ten), which won for the sixth time in seven games.
The Lady Lions trailed only once at 5-4, led by 19 points at halftime and rolled to an easy victory over the last-place Hoosiers (5-18, 0-10), who have dropped 10 straight. No Indiana player finished in double figures.
The lopsided score resulted in increased minutes for the Lady Lions bench and a trio of reserves turned in strong performances. Gizelle Studevent scored 10 points, Talia East had a career-high nine points and nine rebounds, and Ariel Edwards had eight points.
"Talia came off the bench at the beginning of the game and made her presence felt," Washington said. "Gizelle made her presence felt. Ariel did good things for us. The bench was a key. They came in, gave us a lift and helped maintain where we were."
East, who twice scored eight points this season, said Washington reiterated her message to the team's reserves before the start of Thursday's game.
"[Washington] told us we needed a strong bench," East said. "Down the stretch, we needed the bench to be playing strong. My goal was to produce with rebounds."
Indiana entered the game without a victory in over a month at the bottom of the conference in scoring offense, scoring defense, field goal percentage and scoring margin.
It didn't take long for the Lady Lions to pull away.
Danilsa Andujar made one of two free throws to give the Hoosiers their only lead of the game just two minutes in. Lucas then started a 13-0 run with a 3-pointer followed by a 15-foot jumper. Talia East's layup then made it 11-5. Alex Bentley and Lucas followed with baskets, and another layup from East gave Penn State a 17-5 lead at the 14:12 mark.
"I think that Penn State's a very good team and they came out ready to play," Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "They came out with aggression on the inside and tenacity of the perimeter. The best team won today."
Ahead by 12 points, the Lady Lions went nearly six minutes without a field goal and Indiana rallied briefly. Back-to-back baskets from Milika Taufa trimmed Penn State's lead to 17-9. A jumper from Sasha Chaplin cut it to a six-point game and Andrea Newbauer's lay-up made it 18-13 with 9:02 left in the first half.
But Penn State responded by scoring 13 of the next 15 points. After Mia Nickson made one of two free throws, Lucas followed with a 3-pointer at the 8:19 mark to break the Lady Lions' field goal drought and push their lead back to nine points.
Another basket from Lucas made it an 11-point game. After a lay-up from Greene, Lucas added a 3-pointer to push the Lady Lions' advantage to 31-15 with 4:56 remaining in the half.
Lucas made both free throws with 10 seconds left to give the Lady Lions a 42-23 advantage at the intermission. The Hoosiers would get no closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
Lucas' performance marked the 13th time this season she has scored 20-or-more points. She finished the game with 992 career points and the sophomore's first chance to crack the 1,000-point total will come Sunday at Minnesota.
"Not a lot of people are that prolific of a scorer," Washington said. "For Maggie to reach that milestone, it speaks to her work ethic, her intelligence and she's just really good. I'm thrilled to be able to coach her."
The Lady Lions played Thursday without forward Marisa Wolfe (concussion-like symptoms). Washington said Wolfe is day-to-day, but is likely to miss Sunday's game.
INDIANA (5-18): Newbauer 2-6 2-2 6, Andujar 0-0 1-2 1, Chaplin 4-11 0-2 8, Sinclair 3-11 2-2 8, McGhee 3-12 1-2 7, Goodwin 0-2 3-4 3, Rubene 0-2 0-0 0, Stauere 0-0 0-0 0, Ussery 1-5 0-0 2, Deloach 0-1 0-0 0, Taufa 3-8 3-6 9. Totals 16-58 12-20 44.
PENN ST. (17-5): Gray 0-3 0-0 0, Bentley 1-9 3-4 5, Nickson 0-3 1-2 1, Lucas 8-18 4-4 24, Greene 7-12 3-7 17, East 4-7 1-1 9, Edwards 4-7 0-0 8, Studevent 5-6 0-0 10, Waldner 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 29-68 14-20 76.
Halftime-Penn St. 42-23. 3-Point Goals-Indiana 0-6 (Ussery 0-1, Sinclair 0-5), Penn St. 4-7 (Lucas 4-7). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Indiana 43 (Chaplin 16), Penn St. 45 (East 9). Assists-Indiana 6 (Newbauer 2), Penn St. 16 (Bentley, Waldner 4). Total Fouls-Indiana 19, Penn St. 15. A-NA.