In Game Blog: Women's Basketball vs. Nebraska

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

Take a look back the Lady Lion's impressive 80-59 victory over Nebraska on Sunday inside the Bryce Jordan Center. It was hard sledding for both teams in the early going, but Penn State picked up the defensive pressure over the final three-plus minutes of the first half to begin to pull away for their second straight 20-plus point win in Big Ten play.

Today's Game in 140 Characters: Can #PennState continue taking care of the ball vs. tough #Nebraska D...get ready for NASCAR offense...PSU must guard 3pt line/establish post

First Five on the Floor (Starting lineups)
Lady Lions -
 G- Bentley, G- Lucas, G- Taylor, F- Nickson, C- Greene
Huskers - G- Moore, G- Theriot, F- Sample, F- Cady, F- Hooper

1st Half: 15:59 - No. 8/8 Penn State 5, No. RV/23 Nebraska 10
Alex Bentley has all five of the Penn State points and Nebraska has knocked down a pair of three pointers and Emily Cady's putback give them the early edge. The Lady Lion bigs are going to be tested today by a long, athletic post group from Nebraska and that is evident in the early going. Nikki Greene found that out the hard way, committing her first foul just two minutes into the contest 35-feet away from the basket. Let's hope the poor shooting problems were limited to the Northwestern game, as PSU is shooting just 28-percent from the floor, so far.

1st Half: 11:49 - No. 8/8 Penn State 11, No. RV/23 Nebraska 11
Maggie Lucas has knocked down a couple of open looks from distance, but the Huskers have really created matchup problems for the Lady Lions so far. Mia Nickson continues to battle down low and will shoot a pair of free throws after being fouled just before the break. The Lady Lions are picking up the pace on the shooting front, now up to 30 percent, while Nebraska has hit just four-of-15 from the field through the first eight minutes.

1st Half: 7:46 - No. 8/8 Penn State 15, No. RV/23 Nebraska 14
Nickson hit both free throws coming out of our last break and Ariel Edwards started and finished the fastbreak right before the media timeout, but between that it was a Nebraska three that accounted for all of the scoring. Cady connected from distance to stop an almost eight-minute streak without a field goal for the Huskers. The defensive rotations for both teams have been poor and neither team has found a rhythm offensively in the early going, but that can be attributed to some tough in-your-face defense from both lineups. 

1st Half: 2:54 - No. 8/8 Penn State 29, No. RV/23 Nebraska 23
I didn't think it was possible for a team to be more physical in the low post than Northwestern, but Nebraska is challenging my frame of mind to this point. The Huskers have really controlled the paint while on defense, but if Lucas continues to drain three pointers that presence will have to change. The Lady Lions put a little distance between themselves and Nebraska with a nine-point run, including a three from Lucas and a swipe-and-score from Dara Taylor, and after Nebraska pulled it back into a one possession game, a Bentley three pointer pushed the lead back to six. Nickson might have to sit the rest of the half with two fouls - coming on back-to-back plays.

An observation for my readers: Taylor's speed has posed a problem for NU all over the floor.

End of 1st Half - No. 8/8 Penn State 40, No. RV/23 Nebraska 27

Penn State began to take control of the game with about seven minutes to play in the opening stanza and that was in large part to the play of Taylor and Edwards on both ends of the floor. Taylor has just two points, but her three steals have all led to points and add in five assists and she has had a hand in at least 30 percent of the Lady Lions points.

Bentley, who is one of the emotional leaders on this team, ignited the large crowd inside the BJC with a buzzer beating three pointer to end the first half. After collecting the steal on the other end, the senior let the shot fly from half court and found nothing but the bottom of the net to send her squad into the locker room on an 11-4 run over the final three minutes.

Penn State will have to continue to switch screens on the perimeter to put pressure on the Nebraska three-point threats and the production they got from the inside game over the final six minutes will need to continue if they want to win the battle between the Big Ten's top two preseason picks.

2nd Half: 15:30 - No. 8/8 Penn State 55, No. RV/23 Nebraska 31
The buzzer beater by Bentley apparently set off the Harlem Globetrotter affect, as the Lady Lions have come out with some nice ball movement and acrobatic plays over the first four-plus minutes of the second half. The half has opened with a 15-4 advantage for PSU, who is seven-for-nine from the floor this half. Bentley (15 points), Lucas (15) and Edwards (11) are all in double figures now for the Lady Lions.

Note to my readers: Just 15 points until McNuggets, the smell has started to permeate throughout the BJC.

2nd Half: 11:54 - No. 8/8 Penn State 61, No. RV/23 Nebraska 39

Nebraska was settling for shots early in the second half, but has begun to take the ball to the hoop and have four of their last eight points from the line. Penn State, on the other hand, has been sloppy with the ball with some ill-advised shot. With another basket, Lucas will become the 13th member of the 1,500-point club, joining teammate Bentley in the exclusive club. The game has been fast paced, which was expected, but PSU has done what they needed to do to keep Nebraska off tilt from behind the arc.

2nd Half: 7:22 - No. 8/8 Penn State 69, No. RV/23 Nebraska 50
Penn State has been going hard to the offensive glass, leading to four second-chance opportunities over the last four minutes, and PSU continues to hound the outside shooters for the Huskers. In the second Half, NU has countered Taylor's speed with a quick guard of their own, Tear'a Laudermill, and the pair has kept each in check.

Note to my readers: If you are not at the BJC, you are missing out on FREE MCNUGGETS! Thanks to all the Lady Lions, but mostly Bentley who pushed us past the magical 70-point mark.

2nd Half: 7:22 - No. 8/8 Penn State 69, No. RV/23 Nebraska 50

Lucas converted a pair of free throws at the 5:30 mark of the game to push her career points total to 1,500 on the nose and the Lady Lions continue to apply pressure on the offensive and defensive end. I can't wait for McNuggets, which is where my mind has been since Bentley knocked down the jumper, but on another note, Greene is closing in on her third double-double of season, needing just one more point.

2nd Half: 3:38 - No. 8/8 Penn State 76, No. RV/23 Nebraska 52
Nebraska has been hampered by a poor shooting all night, especially from behind the three-point line, and are connecting on just 30 percent of their shots. Penn State picked up the pace offensively at around the seven minute mark of the first half and is now clicking at 45 percent from the field for the contest. Bentley and Lucas lead all scorers with 19 points and Nickson has a contest-best 11 boards entering the final three-plus minutes. PSU has really locked down on the defensive end, which has frustrated Nebraska the entire second half.

FINAL- No. 8/8 Penn State 80, No. RV/23 Nebraska 58
I have to admit, I thought that Nebraska would give the Lady Lions a huge test after watching the Huskers last weekend vs. Purdue, but head coach Coquese Washington and her staff really put together a dynamite game plan and the players executed.

Nebraska came out and really controlled the first four minutes and kept the Lady Lions defense off balance. Penn State didn't have an answer for the athletic post players for Nebraska on either end, but after taking a 15-14 lead they found their grove and really started taking it to the Huskers at both ends. Each team committed just 13 fouls in a game that featured a pair of aggressive defenses and Penn State limited their turnovers and on the other end came away with 13 steals.

Taylor dished out eight assists, collected three steals and was the defensive star for Penn State, keeping the Nebraska guards from creating open looks for their three-point shooters and applying full court pressure that lead to run-out chances for the Lady Lions.

It was the type of game that can provide some needed momentum heading into the heart of Big Ten play, but that momentum can become dangerous if you are looking too far down the line. After listening to the three players in the press conference, I don't think that will be a problem. Bentley sat between Edwards and Taylor and fielded questions from all over the room, saying all of the right things, but the look in her eyes let me know that this was not just "coach speak" and was coming from the depths of her being.

Three of the next four games will be on the road, including a trip to red-hot Michigan, so they Lions will need all the mental toughness and focus they can get out of their leaders; Bentley and Lucas (in no particular order).

Fast Break Press Conference Quotes

"Our defense got a lot better over the last four minutes. We talked in the media timeout about locking down on defense over the final three minutes. We made them take some tough shots and were able to get out in transition and get some easy looks."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"I think our (defensive) help rotations were pretty good and we wanted to make them take tough shots. They missed some shots they would normally make, but I think we made them take some tough shots, too."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"We know that teams are going to key on Maggie (Lucas) and Alex (Bentley) and we talk to all of our players about being ready every game. Ariel (Edwards) was big tonight for us. She was very aggressive attacking the rim, attacking the paint and we need her to have an attacking mentality. She is a big threat and we need her to play that way to be successful."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"There are a lot of teams that have a lot of offensive fire power in this conference. If we want to be a team to be reckoned with in this conference (our coaching staff) knows that we have to dictate the game on the defensive end. Offense can come and go, you are going to miss shots in the game, but defense can be a constant. We want to be able to shut people down and I think that is what we did to end the first half and start the second half."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"We were talking about finishing the half strong. They had a chance to score at the end of the half and I was able to come away with the steal and just threw it up and it went in. I learned that from Maggie Lucas, she practices that every day."
- Senior Alex Bentley

"We wanted to focus on picking up the energy over the last three minutes (of the first half). We knew we have to get locked in on defense and I think that really helped our offense to get going late in the half."
- Junior Ariel Edwards

"Maggie and Alex are the emotional leaders of this team and we know that we can rely on them to give us that motivation at any point of the game. We know that we can lean on them and they will give us a boost when we need it most."
-Junior Dara Taylor

"Building throughout the season has been out focus all season and we are going to continue that throughout the season. We have to go hard in practice every day and continue to improve."
-Senior Alex Bentley


What To Look For:

- With 13 points at Michigan State, senior Alex Bentley surpassed the 1,500-point plateau and became the fifth player in Big Ten history and second player in Lady Lion history to accumulate 1,500 points, 500 assists and 250 steals. Bentley joins the Big Ten list that includes: Stephanie White, Purdue (1996-99), Yvette Angel, Ohio State (1982-85), Tamara Moore, Wisconsin (1999-02) and Katie Douglas, Purdue (1998-01). Additionally, Bentley joins Suzie McConnell (1985-88) as the only Lady Lions to accomplish the feat. Bentley has 1,506 points, 512 assists and 271 steals in her career.


- Senior forward Mia Nickson became the 28th member of the Lady Lions' 500-rebound club with six caroms at Michigan State Jan. 26. She has accumulated 504 rebounds in her three seasons in the Blue & White since transferring from Boston College after her freshman season.

- Senior Nikki Greene continues to climb the rebound and blocked shot lists at Penn State, sitting third with 190 career rejections and sixth with 830 boards. Greene now aims for the No. 5 spot on the rebounds list that is held by Angie Potthoff (1993-97) with 918 and is just two blocks away from the No. 2 spot held by Mary Donovan (1977-81) with 192.

- This game features the top scoring offense in the Big Ten, Penn State at 74.4 ppg, and the No. 7 scoring offense in the conference, Nebraska at 69.9 ppg. These two squads are also among the top turnover margin squad in the league as Penn State paces the conference with a plus-4.3 and Nebraska is third at plus-2.8. Nebraska's game revolves around the three-point arc, where the Huskers have made 104 of their 336 shots. The attempts are the most in the Big Ten and their successful attempts rank second to Michigan (108).

 

 

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