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Jan. 6, 2011
EVANSTON, ILL. - The Penn State Lady Lions (13-4, 2-1) shot a sizzling 63.6% (7-11) from three-point range on the way to a 80-68 win at Northwestern (12-4, 1-2) Thursday night. Sophomore guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) and freshman guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) both reached the 20-point mark for the night with 24 and 20 tallies, respectively.
Bentley sealed the win with nine free throws in the final 1:39 en route to 24 markers. She also dished out six assists and notched four steals in the win. Lucas was a sizzling 5-for-6 from three-point range and 5-for-6 from the free throw line and finished with 20 tallies. With her five three-pointers, Lucas passes Lisa Shepherd for second place on Penn State's freshman season three-pointers list with 55 this year. She is now within 10 triples of tying Kelly Mazzante's rookie mark.
Chicago native Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) accounted for 12 points and two assists, while sophomore center Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) had a solid performance with 10 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and three steals. Sophomore post player Marisa Wolfe (Ford City, Pa.) returned to action after missing three games due to injury with six points, three rebounds and two blocked shots.
The Lady Lions jumped out to the early lead with a Bentley layup off of the tip and a layup by Greene in the first minute to give Penn State a 4-0 advantage. The teams exchanged scores over the next several minutes until the Wildcats scored five consecutive points to take a 9-8 lead with 15:35 left in the opening half.
Lucas heated up early for the Lady Lions, coming off of the bench to hit three three-pointers in minute and a half to spark an 11-1 run to give Penn State a 19-10 lead with 13:33 on the clock. After Gray added to the Lady Lion lead by making one of two free throws, the Wildcats went on a 10-2 run to close within two points (22-20) with less than eight minutes to play in the opening frame.
Greene pulled in a miss from Lucas and laid it back in to start an 8-3 spurt for the Lady Lions. Gray capped the run by taking a beautiful feed from Bentley for the layup to make it a 30-23 Penn State lead with five minutes left in the half. Bentley scored five of the game's next eight points to push the margin to nine points (35-26) with 1:34 on the clock. However, the Wildcats sandwiched two three-pointers around another Bentley bucket to slice the lead to 37-32 heading into the break.
Bentley led the Lady Lions with 13 points and three assists, while Lucas added 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field. Additionally, Greene added six points and six rebounds in the opening frame. Brittany Orban led Northwestern with 13 points.
The Lady Lions were saddled with five turnovers in the first four minutes of the second half as the Wildcats took a 40-39 lead with an 8-2 run, but Penn State got back on track with back-to-back baskets by Greene, two free throws from Lucas and a layup by Nickson to take a 47-40 lead with 13:24 left in the game. Northwestern would slice into the lead with five consecutive points to make it a 47-45 game with 12 minutes left.
Gray responded for Penn State with five consecutive points to extend the lead back to seven (52-45) with 10 minutes remaining, but the Wildcats did not give up with a 5-2 run over the next minute and a half to get back within four (54-50). The Lady Lions went back to their bread and butter so far this year with back-to-back three-pointers by Lucas and Gray to make the lead an even 10 points (60-50) with less than seven minutes to play.
The squads swapped scores for the next several minutes to keep the margin consistent. With Penn State leading 69-60, the Lady Lions were put on the free throw line for nearly the final two minutes where they sealed the victory with 11 free throws, including nine by Bentley.
GAME NOTES: With five three-pointers, freshman guard Maggie Lucas passed Lisa Shepherd for second place on Penn State's freshman season three-pointers list. Lucas has 55 treys this season and is now within 10 triples of tying Kelly Mazzante's freshman record of 65 three-pointers as a freshman ... Sophomore post player Marisa Wolfe tied her career high with two blocked shots ... The Lady Lions are 28-7 all-time against the Wildcats ... Penn State reached the 80-point mark for the eighth time this season.
Following a bye date, the Lady Lions return to the Bryce Jordan Center for their only meeting of the season against Minnesota on Thurs., Jan. 13. The Minnesota game is Facebook "Like It" Day where fans who "like" the official WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State Facebook page can print off a ticket voucher for one FREE ticket. 2010-11 Lady Lion Basketball Single-game tickets are available by calling 814-863-1000 or 800-NITTANY. The PNC Flex Books are available again this year for $99. The Flex Book gives fans 12 vouchers, including one for the Coaches vs. Cancer game and one for the Pink Zone game, that can be redeemed for Nittany Lion and Lady Lion Basketball tickets in any combination.
The 2011 WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State will take place on Sunday, Feb. 27 at noon as the Lady Lions take on Northwestern in the Bryce Jordan Center. The game can be seen on the Big Ten Network. Last year, the Lady Lions donated more than $80,000 for 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 and J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital. For more information on the Pink Zone at Penn State, visit the official Pink Zone website at www.gopsusports.com/pinkzone. The WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pinkzoneatpennstate.
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.