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Jan. 3, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The #9/9 Penn State Lady Lions (11-2, 1-0 Big Ten) used a late rally to fend off the Northwestern Wildcats (8-6, 0-1) in their Big Ten opener by a score of 73-69 on Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Wildcats held a six-point advantage with 4:47 remaining in the contest, but Penn State closed the game on 17-9 run to seal the comeback victory.
Junior guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) led the way for the Lady Lions, netting 24 points. All five of Lucas' field goals came from three-point range while she shot 9-for-12 from the charity stripe. The Narberth native additionally tallied four assists, two blocks and five steals in the win. The Lady Lions accumulated 19 total steals with a career-high seven steals coming from junior Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.).
Senior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) recorded her 13th career double-double in the win, tallying season highs of 14 points and 13 rebounds. Senior point guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) added nine points to go along with six steals and three assists. Taylor additionally chipped in nine points.
Northwestern jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead until Bentley scored on a three-point field goal 3:59 into the contest. Following a Nickson putback, the Wildcats put together a 7-0 run to up their lead to 13-5 with 13:35 remaining. Penn State would answer right back though with a 7-0 run to shrink the lead to one (13-12) thanks a three from Lucas, and made free throws by Nickson and junior Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.).
With the Lady Lions down 25-19, Bentley made two free throws to cut the lead to four the freshman Candice Agee (Victorville, Calif.) scored two of her four points to shrink the Wildcat lead to two (25-23) with 6:10 remaining. The Wildcats would push their lead back to four points over the next two-plus minutes before Lucas closed the deficit to one (31-30) with 3:06 to go in the half on a made three, but Northwestern would go on a 7-2 run to close the half and take a six point lead into the locker room (38-32).
Greene, who was relegated to the bench for 18 minutes in the first half with foul trouble, started the second half with a layup 1:45 in to cut Northwestern's lead to four. The Lions scored three of the game's next five points, but two-straight Wildcat baskets would put Penn State down seven (44-37) with 16:09 left.
With 13:33 remaining in the contest, the Lady Lions would begin a run that started with a baseline drive by junior Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) to make the score 45-41 in favor of the Wildcats. Lucas sank two free throws and Nickson tied it up on two ensuing makes from the charity stripe to make it 45-45 with 12:49 on the clock. Penn State garnered its first lead of the game on one Lucas free throw and an Edwards drive to the basket to close out the 7-0 run and give the Lady Lions a 48-45 lead with 11:06 to go in the contest.
The squads exchanged scores until the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run to establish a 62-56 lead with 4:24 remaining. Alex Cohen capped the run with five consecutive points, including a banked in three-pointer as the shot clock expired. Trailing 62-56, Greene cut into the Wildcat lead on a putback at the 3:56 mark. After Lauren Douglas made one of two free throws, Lucas scored four consecutive tallies, including her fifth three-pointer of the game to shrink the lead to 63-62 with 2:35 remaining.
A Kate Popovec layup put Northwestern back up by three, but Taylor would score four consecutive points on a jumper and layup to jump-start an 8-0 that would give the Lady Lions a 70-65 lead with 36 seconds remaining.
Two Karly Roser free throws for Northwestern would shrink the lead to three with 31 seconds to go, but East made one of two from the line on the other end to make it a two-possession game with 23 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Roser knocked down a jumper to cut the lead to two with 14 seconds remaining (71-69). Northwestern was unable to foul Bentley until there were two seconds remaining on the clock. Bentley made both free throws, resulting in a 73-69 final score.
GAME NOTES: Junior guard Maggie Lucas posted her eighth 20-point game of the season and 39th of her career with 24 tallies ... With her performance, she moved into 13th place on Penn State's career scoring list (1,469), passing Katina Mack (1,463) and Jess Strom (1,466) ... Senior guard Alex Bentley nabbed six thefts on the night to climb into sixth place on Penn State's career steals chart (270), passing Tanisha Wright (267) ... Junior guard Dara Taylor had a career high seven steals, surpassing her previous career mark of six thefts against N.C. Central (11/14/09) as a member of the Maryland Terrapins ... Taylor surpassed the 100-steal mark for her career (104) ... Senior Mia Nickson posted her third double-double of the season and 13th of her career with season-bests of 14 points and 13 rebounds ... Penn State nabbed a season-best 19 steals ... The 19 thefts are the most by the Lady Lions since registering 21 thefts against Bucknell Dec. 28, 2010 ... The Lady Lions have won 13 consecutive home games, the ninth-longest streak in school history ... Penn State is now 12-9 in Big Ten openers since joining the conference in 1992-93 ... It is just Penn State's second win in a Big Ten opener in the last eight years (2010-11) ... PSU is 15-6 all-time in Big Ten home openers since 1993 ... The Lady Lions shot below 30% and won for the first time since shooting 22.4% (15-67) at Minnesota on Jan. 3, 1999 ... The Lady Lions had more three-point field goals (5) in the first half than they did two-point field goals (4).
The Lady Lions travel to Michigan State on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2:15 p.m. for a BTN-televised game before returning to the BJC where they will face Nebraska on Sun., Jan. 13 at 2 p.m. for THON Day and Alumni Day. Go to www.GoPSUsports.com/promotions/wbb.html for complete promotions information.
Single game tickets for the Lady Lions are on sale now. Tickets are $15 and $12 for adults and seniors and $9 and $7 for youth (12 and younger). The PNC Flex Books are available again this year for $99. The Flex Book gives fans 12 vouchers, 10 that can be redeemed in any combination for Nittany Lion and Lady Lion Basketball tickets throughout the year and two extra vouchers for the Nittany Lions' Coaches Vs. Cancer game and the Lady Lions' Pink Zone game.
The 2013 Pink Zone at Penn State will take place on Sunday, Feb. 24 as the Lady Lions take on Michigan in the Bryce Jordan Center. Last year, the Lady Lions donated a record $203,000 to breast cancer causes. This year's fundraising efforts will benefit the Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Lewistown Hospital. For more information on the Pink Zone at Penn State, visit the official Pink Zone website at www.pennsylvaniapinkzone.org.
The Lady Lions are on Twitter. Follow sports information contact Kris Petersen (@ladylionsid) and the Lady Lions and coaches (@pennstatewbb) to get the inside scoop. The Lady Lions are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennstateladylions.