In Game Blog: Women's Basketball vs. Michigan

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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.

Below is a running in-game blog from the Lady Lions 68-57 victory over Michigan on Sunday inside the Bryce Jordan Center that clinched the second straight Big Ten title for the Lady Lions.

Today's Game Preview in 140 Characters: Balance emotions on Senior Day & stay composed vs. stingy Mich. defense...Bentley, Greene, Nickson, Studevent & Wolfe need to go out in style

First Five on the Floor (Starting lineups)
Lady Lions -
G- Bentley, G- Studevent, F- Nickson, F- Wolfe, C- Greene
Wolverines - G- Elmblad, G- Ryan, G-Thompson, F- Jordan, C- Sheffer

1st Half: 15:43 - No. 7/9 Penn State 5, Wolverines 2
Senior Day is always an emotional game and when Marisa Wolfe came out of the game at 19:29 in the first half after forcing a turnover, I am sure those emotions were running high for the senior from Ford City, Pa. Wolfe has missed the entire year with concussion symptoms, but got the start tonight and received a huge ovation from the crowd and a giant hug from head coach Coquese Washington when she stepped off the floor.

As for the game, Penn State didn't score until a Mia Nickson free throw at 17:39 and the senior quickly followed that with a basket to push the Lions ahead, 3-2. Neither team is shooting particularly well, but the Blue and White defense is doing some serious work on the perimeter shooters of the Wolverines.

1st Half: 11:35 - No. 7/9 Penn State 15, Wolverines 4
A 10-2 run has opened up a sizable lead early on for the Lady Lions and Maggie Lucas is a big reason for that. The junior has eight points over the first nine minutes, including a pair of three point baskets, and Penn State has forced five Wolverine turnovers and held them to 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. Alex Bentley has been energized from the opening tip and will need to keep up that energy tonight as she already has two assists, two steals and four points.


1st Half: 7:24 - No. 7/9 Penn State 23, Wolverines 7
The hoop has seemed to have a lid on it for the Wolverines, while Penn State is pushing the ball up the floor and creating offense nicely . Lucas is outscoring the entire Wolverine team with 12 points in 11 minutes and has added three rebounds. The Lady Lions are shooting 44 percent from the field so far, carrying the momentum over from their hot shooting performance against Illinois on Wednesday. The turnovers are at six right now for PSU, so that is a number we will keep an eye on.

1st Half: 3:51 - No. 7/9 Penn State 30, Wolverines 14
Both teams have played a zone defense for the most part in the first half which has contributed to a lower scoring first half than we are used to at Lady Lion games. Michigan has settled mostly for jump shots and is clicking at just a 21 percent mark from the field - including 1-of-10 from three point range - and the Lady Lions are dominating the boards, 22-12. 

End of 1st Half - No. 7/9 Penn State 40, Wolverines 26
A nice shot from Gizelle Studevent nearly gave Penn State all the momentum going into the half, but Jenny Ryan knocked down a contested three pointer at the buzzer to give the Wolverines a boost entering the locker room. Penn State leads by 14 going into the half and will need to continue their strong play on both ends.

A tenacious defense held the Wolverines to just 8-for-28 (28 percent) shooting from the floor, 2-for-11 (18 percent) from three point range and forced eight turnovers. Penn State shot 45 percent (15-of-33) from the floor and hit 5-of-12 shots from beyond the arc, with three of those coming from Maggie Lucas, and owns a 24-15 edge on the boards.

Lucas leads all scorers with 15 points, while Kate Thompson has 13 points for the Wolverines.

2nd Half: 15:40 - No. 7/9 Penn State 44, Wolverines 38
Michigan has come out of the locker room and carried along the momentum of the buzzer beating three pointer from Thompson. It is a 12-4 run that the Wolverines are on to start this half and pull within just eight points. Someone on the defensive end for Penn State is going to have to make a concerted effort to keep Thompson off the scoreboard as she has four three pointers, a layup and five free throws for19 points.

2nd Half: 11:51 - No. 7/9 Penn State 52, Wolverines 45
The Lady Lions have come out a little flat to start the second half, while Nya Jordan and Kate Thompson continue to be the only options for the Wolverines on the offensive end.  Thompson has nine points - all from three point baskets - and Jordan has done a nice job working inside to the tune of seven points. Lucas has just four points - one basket and two free throws - and the Lady Lions are struggling right now against the Wolverines zone. The next four minutes will be key for the Lady Lions who need to establish the post as a threat and stop settling for jump shots, much like they forced Michigan to do in the first half.

2nd Half: 6:04 - No. 7/9 Penn State 57, Wolverines 48
A five minute scoring drought was ended by an Ariel Edwards three pointer as the shot clock expired and Alex Bentley knocked down a jump shot from just inside the arc on the next possession to push the Lady Lions lead to nine points. It hasn't been a pretty half for PSU and the Wolverines came out with a quick scoring punch, but have now gone almost five minutes without a point themselves.

2nd Half: 3:27 - No. 7/9 Penn State 61, Wolverines 52
After having success against the Wolverines zone in the first half, Penn State has struggled in the second half. The Lady Lions shot 15-of-33 (45 percent)  in the opening frame, but are just 8-of-21 (38 percent) from the floor in the second half. With Nikki Greene in foul trouble for most of the half, Penn State has had limited touches in the paint which has meant Bentley and Lucas have been forced to create more shots than they normally do.

FINAL - No. 7/9 Penn State 68, Wolverines 57
When their team needed them the most, the trio of Alex Bentley, Nikki Greene, Maggie Lucas and Mia Nickson came through. And when the final horn sounded the party started and the confetti was flying as the Lady Lions Locked up their second straight Big Ten Championships with a 68-57 victory over Michigan.

Nickson hit the final shot for PSU, a floater in the lane, to account for the final margin and, after all of the senior headed to the bench to a standing ovation from the crowd of 14,173, the underclassmen dribbled out the clock to close out the 10th undefeated home season in school history.

Lucas paced the Lady Lions with 21 points, added five rebounds and three steals, while Nickson finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Bentley was her normal self, hounding the UM player she was guarding from start to finish and notching 11 points, three rebounds, four steals and five assists. Greene was hampered by foul trouble for most of the game, but contributed eight points and nine bounds to go along with two blocked shots.

Michigan's zone defense really kept the offense in check for most of the night, but the Lady Lions were able to get past a five minute  scoreless stretch in the second half and nearly piled up 70 points vs. a Wolverine scoring defense that was allowing less than 55 points per game.
                     


What To Look For:

-
The Lady Lions are looking to secure their first back-to-back titles since the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. A victory would not only give the Blue and White back-to-back Big Ten banners, but would also mark the most home conference wins in school history, eight, and lock up the tenth undefeated home season in school history.

- Penn State is scoring 74.1 points per game and is coming off of a 95-point performance on Wednesday night vs. Illinois, but the Wolverines will use a variety of looks on the defensive end and attempt to hold the Lady Lions offense down. The Wolverines are holding opponents to just 54.5 points a game - second in the Big Ten - and limit the opposition to just a 44 percent shooting percentage.


- The Bryce Jordan Center will big ado to five seniors today, as Alex Bentley, Nikki Greene, Mia Nickson, Gizelle Studevent and Marisa Wolfe will all play their final home contests inside a building that has seen so much success during their four years.  Since the 2009-10 season, Penn State is 48-12 inside the BJC and is currently riding a 19-game winning streak at home. A victory over the Wolverines would also lock up a share of the Big Ten title, mark the 200th win inside the BJC and polish off the 10th undefeated home season in school history.

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