Lady Lions In-Game Blog: Howard

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to in-game coverage for the 2012-13 Penn State women's basketball season.  Each home game, GoPSUsports.com will provide insight from press row. Check back often for running updates as the action unfolds.

The Nittany Lions open their 2012-13 campaign versus Howard this afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center.

GAME NOTE: Senior Nikki Greene made her 100th career start on Sunday versus Howard. Greene has started every game of her Penn State career.

1st Half: 11:52 - No. 8/8 Penn State 15, Howard 11
After some technical difficulties, we are up and running...as are the Lady Lions. Penn State trailed 7-5 heading into the first media timeout, but solid defense and seven points combined from Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas. Lucan hit a three coming out of the first media timeout to get the offense some momentum and connected on a jumper to move the PSU lead to three points later in the action. So far, Penn State holds the edge in rebounds (9-6) and steals (4-2), while forcing six turnovers and committing just four.

1st Half: 6:58 - No. 8/8 Penn State 21, Howard 21
Penn State has struggled to find any momentum on the offensive end and some sloppy play before the third media timeout of the first half has given Howard the opening to knot the score, 21-21. The Lady Lions have turned the ball over seven times and Howard has seven steals, so far in the contest.

1st Half: 3:49 - No. 8/8 Penn State 25, Howard 31
Howard is shooting 47-percent from the field and has connected on three-of-six from the beyond the arc to match their largest lead of the game at six points. The Lady Lions have connected on 45-percent from the field and own a 14-10 edge on the boards, but nine turnovers have hampered the offensive flow and they are just one-of-seven from three point range.

End of the 1st Half - No. 8/8 Penn State 39, Howard 31
Maggie Lucas scored seven points over the final four minutes of the half to help Penn State outscore Howard 14-0 down the stretch and take an eight point lead into the locker room. At the half, Penn State is 14 of 29 from the field (48%), nine of 15 from the free throw line (60%) and owns the edge in rebounds (18-15), steals (10-7) and blocks (2-1). The Bison have forced ten PSU turnovers, but have turned it over 15 times themselves to lead to 17 Penn State points.

2nd Half: 15:49 - No. 8/8 Penn State 46, Howard 35
Since Howard built a six points lead, 31-25, late in the first half, it has been all Penn State. The Lady Lions have found that offensive footing to the tune of a 21-4 run over the last eight game minutes. Lucas currently leads all scorers with 20 points - including three, three-point field goals - she also has two assists. Bentley has seven steals, ten points, four rebounds and three assists for PSU.

2nd Half: 11:36 - No. 8/8 Penn State 53, Howard 39
Penn State has forced Howard into 19 turnovers and turned those into 22 points, however, the game has remained relatively close with the Lady Lions committing 15 turnovers of their own. Mia Nickson leads the way with five rebounds for PSU, while Lucas connected on her fourth three-pointer of the game just before the media timeout to give her 23 in the game.

2nd Half: 7:36 - No. 8/8 Penn State 58, Howard 44
Just four minutes came off of the clock between media timeouts, but Penn State continues to hold a comfortable lead against the Bison. Howard continues to struggle against the pressure of the Lady Lion defense, now with 18 turnovers, but have turned 16 PSU turnovers into 20 points.

2nd Half: 3:10 - No. 8/8 Penn State 68, Howard 49
Nickson now has a double-double with 14 points and ten rebounds and Lucas sits on 23 points in the contest. The pressure of the Lady Lions has forced Howard to shoot just 27-percent so far in the second half, while the Lions have shot 44-percent through 17 minutes of the second half. Penn State's owns a 21-6 edge in fast break points and a 26-14 advantage in the paint.

 

FINAL - No. 8/8 Penn State 72, Howard 61
Discipline was a key word throughout the postgame press conference, because I think that most of the Lady Lions feel as if they were fortunate to come away with the victory. It's not often that a team turns the ball over 20 times and is still able to win the game, but the Lady Lions were able to overcome some sloppy play early on in their win over Howard to open the season at 1-0 for the seventh straight year.

One reason was the play of Maggie Lucas, who poured in 25 points in the game, including seven over the final three minutes of the first half to give PSU the lead heading into halftime. Mia Nickson opened her senior season with a double-double of 14 points - ten in the second half - and ten rebounds. Nickson was tied with Bentley for second on the team in points, going six-of-ten from the field and connected on both of her free throws, while her 10 rebounds were a game high.

Saadia Doyle - the MEAC Preseason Player of the Year - was as advertised, ending the game with 36 points, six rebounds and three steals. Doyle connected on nine-of-21 from the floor, but was 17-for-23 at the free throw stripe, setting an opponent record for free throw attempts in a game. The record was previously held by Georgeann Wells of West Virginia who was 19-for-20 on Feb. 8, 1986.

Fast Break Press Conference Recap
"I think we have to play a lot more disciplined than we played tonight. We have to be better on both ends of the floor. We have to be more disciplined." - Head coach Coquese Washington

"They wanted to play better. They wanted to have a better performance, but it is what it is. We know the things we have to work on and, on the other hand, we can be confident in the things we did well. It's November, it's our first game and we didn't play as well as we wanted to play, but it gives us information, it gives us feedback so we know the things we need to get better at. And we have to do it quickly, because we know going to Texas A&M is going to be a big challenge for us." - Head coach Coquese Washington

"We're happy that we got the win, but have to be more disciplined." - Junior guard Maggie Lucas

"I just took advantage of my opportunities. When I got the ball I just tried to make a positive play, whether it be with a pass or making a shot. (Howard) was really physical down low, so (our post players) just tried to do what we could." - Redshirt-Senior forward Mia Nickson

"We came in to the game and knew Howard was a good team...We have a lot to work on over the next couple of days and I look forward to working on our weaknesses in practice. We need to have a couple of good practices before we take on Texas A&M." - Senior guard Alex Bentley

                                      
Pregame Reading:
- Penn State is meeting the Bison for the first time since the 1989 season and have played Howard just twice in program history. The Lady Lions are 2-0 all-time against Howard winning 82-44 at home on Dec. 2, 1980 and claiming a 107-69 neutral site win on Nov. 26, 1989. The Lady Lions are a perfect 6-0 all-time against MEAC schools.

- Senior guard Alex Bentley opens her senior season ranked among the Top 15 in the Penn State record books in a host of categories. The Indianapolis native enters her final year in the blue and white 15th in scoring (1,335), 10th in assists (455), 12th in steals (216) and 10th in field goals attempted (1,245).

- The Lady Lions have won 13 of their 16 home openers since playing their first full season in the Bryce Jordan Center in 1996-97. Penn State is riding a string of six straight home opening wins, with their last loss coming at the hands of No. 1 Duke on Nov. 18, 2005, and will play their tenth season opening game at home since beginning the 1996-97 slate with a victory over Maryland at the BJC.

- Howard swept the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason awards, taking the top spot in the preseason coaches poll and watching as Saadia Doyle - the 2011-12 MEAC Player of the Year - was selected to repeat that honor as the preseason choice for the award. The Bison opened the season on Friday at St. Francis (Pa.), falling 69-61 to the Red Flash. Doyle led the squad in points and rebounds with 21 and seven, respectively, as senior Cheyenne Curly-Payne distributed seven assists.

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