It’s the same story, just a different chapter.

The Michigan women’s basketball team lost to No. 18 Penn State on Thursday at the Crisler Center, their second loss to the Nittany Lions in as many weeks.

Two weeks ago, when the teams met at State College, the Nittany Lions used their athleticism and speed to score 24 points in transition, running the Wolverines out of the gym in a 78-63 victory.

Thursday, Michigan was able to contain a speedy Penn State team, but was unable to stop the Nittany Lions’ impressive inside-outside strategy. Junior center Nikki Greene, standing at 6-foot-4, dominated the paint the entire contest. Greene’s ability to establish herself down low allowed the Penn State guard trio of Zhaque Gray, Maggie Lucas and Alex Bentley to get open looks all night.

“Nikki Green was pretty dominant in the first half, and any time you can have a post player that has that kind of presence inside, I think it opens things up for our shooters,” said Penn State coach Coquese Washington. “Usually we’re a team that if we get great shots, we make a pretty good percentage of them.”

The Nittany Lions took advantage of those opportunities in the first half to shoot 49 percent from the field — with 22 points coming from Lucas and Bentley. Because the Wolverines were forced to pay more attention to Green than they anticipated, the guards were freed up to score.

Michigan, which started out playing a help-oriented defense, switched to a zone for a majority of the game to stop Greene. But when the ball went to Greene and the Wolverines collapsed on her, she was able to kick it back out to her open guards.

Junior forward Sam Arnold attributes the open looks to Michigan testing different defensive strategies.

“Since we were switching up our defense so much, you’re trying something new every time down the court,” Arnold said. “You just need to know where you’re at and find the people near you.”

Arnold, who comes off the bench for junior forward Rachel Sheffer, came into the game because she was better able to compensate for Greene’s height and strength. Though she didn’t fare much better than Sheffer on defense, she was able to get some tough points in the paint offensively.

“(Greene) is a big girl and we were outsized a little bit,” Arnold said. “I also think it comes down to knowing the other people on the floor and we needed help to be there.”

The only problem was that even when the help came, it was ineffective because Greene dished to the perimeter. Greene, who averages 8.2 rebounds per game, finished with 11 — four offensive and seven defensive. Though Greene isn’t even one of the top-two best offensive weapons for Penn State, she was crucial in Thursday’s victory.

Neither coach said they had made big changes following the teams’ first meeting two weeks earlier. Both Borseth and Washington knew their opponent’s game plan. Penn State did something entirely different though — attacking the paint. The key similarity was that the Wolverines happened to come out on the short end of the stick yet again.

“Their best part of their game is transition,” Borseth said. “They’re really good. When they get you in transition, all of a sudden you’re trying to stop Bentley, who’s just a bulls-eye on the pull up, and then you try to rush up with (Lucas), and then you have to block out (Greene), and one thing leads to another, it snowballs, and (the lead) just gets bigger and bigger.”

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