A second straight victory over one of the nation's top three teams was probably too much to expect from the Maryland women's basketball team, but for a while last night it looked as if it might happen.

But the 24th-ranked Terrapins -- who upset then-No. 3 North Carolina State on Saturday -- couldn't repeat the effort, losing to second-ranked Penn State, 75-70, before 878 at Cole Field House.

In a game relatively even otherwise, the Nittany Lions (16-1) prevailed because of one big run in each half. They used a 15-0 first-half burst en route to a four-point halftime lead, then blew things open with a 21-3 spree midway through the second half.

The Terrapins (13-7) made a few runs of their own -- including one that closed a 15-point deficit to three with two minutes to play.

"We have not played well against Maryland the past few years," Penn State Coach Rene Portland said. "And with them winning eight of their last nine, we knew they were on a roll."

Maryland Coach Chris Weller denied that playing another highly ranked team so soon after a big victory was a suitable excuse for her team's play. The players "have that excuse if they want to," she said. "I just think if you're a great competitor, I don't think it matters who you play when."

Forward Susan Robinson led Penn State with 19 points and 18 rebounds, as the Nittany Lions held a 52-36 rebounding edge. Maryland was paced by freshman center Bonnie Rimkus's 17 points and six rebounds.

The game -- slowed by 42 fouls -- was close early, with Maryland holding a 26-18 lead. Penn State's Tanya Garner (16 points) then made a three-pointer to start the 15-0 run.

The Terrapins closed the half with a 7-2 run to get to 42-38, then started the second half with an 8-4 spurt to tie the game at 46.

Aluma Goren followed with a three-pointer that gave the Terrapins a 49-46 lead, but the Nittany Lions scored 14 in a row to take a 60-49 lead.

After Maryland's Katrina Colleton made an eight-footer and Rimkus a free throw, Penn State ran off seven points, with Garner's putback of a miss making it 67-52 with 6:47 left.