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In Game Blog: Women's Basketball vs. South Dakota State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome back to in-game coverage of 2012-13 Lady Lions basketball season.  Insight and reaction will be provided by throughout the game, so check back often as the action unfolds.

The Lady Lions (8-2) entered the week at No. 11 in the AP poll and No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches poll and have claimed a 60-41 victory at Virginia Tech already this week. This will be the first meeting between Penn State and South Dakota State. The Lady Lions are 3-0 all-time versus the current alignment of the Summit League, last claiming a victory in overtime at Oakland on Nov. 18, 2010.

Today's Game in 140 Characters: 1 last test be4 finals week starts 4 #PennState...need 2 focus vs. #SDSU & play 40 min of tough D...limit TO vs. NCAA opponent...Nuggets please

The Starting Five
Lady Lions -
G- Bentley, G- Lucas, G- Taylor, F- Nickson, C- Greene
Jackrabbits -
G- Boever, G- Eide, F- Stroup, F- Dietel, F- Waytashek

15:41, 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 7, South Dakota State 10
The Lady Lions have turned it over three times in the early going and SDSU has had a number of open looks at the basket. The Jackrabbits have been to the postseason in five of their six Division I seasons, including trips to the NCAA Tournament the past three seasons, and don't seem to be phased by the PSU pressure defense, so far.

11:45, 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 11, South Dakota State 13
Penn State has started to force some turnovers, but continues to struggle on the offensive end, shooting just 38 percent and committing six turnovers of their own. Nikki Greene leads the way with five points, but only three Lady Lion players have scored. Six different players have scored for the Jackrabbits, who are scoring from the inside and the outside.

7:35, 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 15, South Dakota State 19
Penn State has looked as if they've been holed up and studying for finals all morning. The Lady Lions have uncharacteristically missed layup and allowed some easy baskets to the Jackrabbits. The post players have missed a few layups, Maggie Lucas has been held scoreless. SDSU's physical style of play has also created some unease with the PSU players.

3:38, 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 23, South Dakota State 22
A steal and layup by Dara Taylor tied the game at 19-19, and a Lucas jumper knotted the score at 21-21, but SDSU had an answer for each score, until converting one-of-two from the free throw stripe to make it a 22-21 edge. Mia Nickson's successful jumper with 4:06 remaining in the half gave Penn State just their second lead of game. PSU led by one with just 90 seconds into the contest, 5-4.

End of 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 25, South Dakota State 25
Penn State produced their second lowest point total in the first half this season, just three points more than their 22 point output at No. 2 UConn. Alex Bentley spent the majority of the final ten minutes on the bench with two fouls, but leads the team with eight points on four-of-eight shooting. Both teams have turned the ball over 12 times in the opening period, but the Lady Lions shot the ball better down the stretch to end the first half at 40-percent shooting.

17:27, 2nd Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 32, South Dakota State 25
The Lady Lions scored the first seven points of the second half to build their biggest lead of the game and force South Dakota State to take an early timeout. Greene has a pair of baskets and Taylor converted a fast break layup to push Penn State out in front. Greene now leads all scorers with nine points and Taylor notched her third steal in the early going.

11:47, 2nd Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 36, South Dakota State 33
The Lady Lions continue to force turnovers and built an eight point lead, but they are leaving a lot of points on the floor right now as they have been unable to convert a couple of fast break opportunities. Those missed opportunities have allowed the Jackrabbits to hang around. PSU is still shooting 38 percent and are limiting SDSU to just 29 percent shooting from the floor, but the Jackrabbits have converted three of ten from three-point range and PSU is zero-for-nine from long range.

6:48, 2nd Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 47, South Dakota State 35
It continues to be a struggle for the Lady Lions and Greene has been forced to the bench, for now, with four fouls. Bentley and Lucas have picked up the slack, as Lucas drained her first three pointer of the game to move the PSU lead to double digits. Bentley leads all scorers with 12 points and PSU has forced 21 Jackrabbit turnovers. The rebounding is tied at 34 apiece, but South Dakota State has  14 of those on the offensive end.

3:51, 2nd Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 52, South Dakota State 41
The scoring pace is going to need a serious turbo-boost if the faithful has any chance at nuggets today, but the Lady Lions are shooting the ball well over the last four-plus minutes. Penn State is now nine-of-13 from the free throw line, which has helped them hold their lead, but both teams will shot the bonus for the remainder of the period.

FINAL - No. 11/10 Penn State 52, South Dakota State 41
It wasn't a work of art, but it was a win for the Lady Lions. South Dakota State came out with an intensity that Penn State barely matched and were lucky to enter the half tied at 25-25. A second half scoring spurt pushed the Lady Lions out to a 13 point lead and they traded baskets with the Jackrabbits down the stretch to hold on for their third straight victory.

Senior Nikki Green led all scorers with 15 points, while Alex Bentley narrowly missed a double-double, ending the afternoon with 13 points and nine rebounds. Maggie Lucas was held to single digits for the first time this season, tallying nine points, and Mia Nickson added nine points, as well.

As a team, Penn State committed 18 turnovers, with 12 coming in the first 20 minutes, and forced 23 missteps by the Jackrabbits. The Lady Lions shot just 39 percent for the game, but limited the SDSU offense to a 31 percent shooting night. Each team grabbed 40 rebounds, but 14 of the Jackrabbits boards came on the offensive glass.

PSU will have a week break before their next contest, with the players facing tests in the classroom during finals week. The NJIT Highlanders will travel to the Bryce Jordan Center for a 1:30 p.m. tipoff. That game will follow the men's hoops contest versus New Hampshire at 11 a.m.

Fast Break Press Conference Recap
"There just seemed to be a lid on the basket and that's basketball sometimes. I don't have a great answer. We just couldn't seem to get in a rhythm or make shots consistently. It was a struggle offensively all night"
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"When you are struggling offensively you can't focus on not being able to make shots, you have to focus on limiting their good looks and play tough defense. We know that when neither team is making shots we have to be able to get a lead and then let or defense take over. If we can do that we have a great chance to get a win."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"When Nikki is aggressive and assertive she can be a handful...she is a strong powerful player and makes our team a lot better when she is playing like she did in the second half."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"We did a good job of playing through the contact. We continued to work and play through it. We just focused on what we needed to do and played in a very physical game."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"Going into halftime coach told us that (the post players) were going to need to be more involved in the offense. I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team. I knew I had to be a presence in the lane, whether it was rebounding or scoring."
- Senior center Nikki Greene

"We have to learn from this and move on. It is about confidence and I told my teammates that. You can't hang your head and think about missing the shots, you just have to keep playing."
- Senior guard Alex Bentley

Pregame Reading:
- Penn State will look to head into finals week on a high note versus the Jackrabbits and move their winning streak to three games. The Lady Lions have won three of their four contests in December, with their only loss coming at No. 2 UConn, and are looking to rebound after their second lowest scoring output of the season on Wed., Dec. 12 at Virginia Tech in their 60-41 win.

- Just one week ago Maggie Lucas raddled off a career-high 39 points in a 97-74 win over Georgetown inside the Bryce Jordan Center. The junior set the BJC scoring record and tied the arena record with seven three pointers. Her point total was the most for a men's or women's player in the building and is the third most points ever scored by a Lady Lion player.

- Dara Taylor set a Penn State career-high with 15 points earlier this week at Virginia Tech. The junior was six-of-10 from the floor, connected on three-of-six from three-point range and grabbed three rebounds to help the Lady Lions win their second straight contest.

- Head coach Coquese Washington won her 100th game as the head coach of the Lady Lions on Thursday at Virginia Tech. She joins Rene Portland (606 wins) as the only other coach in program history to top the 100-win plateau.

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