No. 22/19 Lady Lions' Comeback Falls Short to Michigan State, 75-65
Jan. 7, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Sophomore guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) scored 28 of her career-high 33 points in the second half as the #22/19 Penn State Lady Lions (11-4, 1-2 Big Ten) staged a comeback after falling behind by 23 points but came up just short to Michigan State (11-5, 3-0), 75-65, Saturday. The Lady Lions were saddled with 25 turnovers on the game, but did outrebound the Spartans, 46-42.
Lucas connected on a career-best seven three-pointers, including going 6-for-9 from deep in the second half, to go along with five rebounds, three assists and a steal. She was the only Lady Lion to reach double figures. Senior guard Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) chipped in eight points, while Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) added seven points and eight rebounds. Junior center Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) notched five points, a team-best 11 rebounds and three steals.
Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) struck first for the Lady Lions with a layup, but the Spartans responded with a three-pointer by Taylor Alton. Following a beautiful reverse layup by Lucas, the Spartans scored the next four points to take a 7-4 lead with 16 minutes left. The squads exchanged scores for the next few minutes until five-straight points by Michigan State pushed the lead to nine (18-9) with 11:32 on the clock.
The Lady Lions closed within seven (22-15) with 9:26 remaining, but the Spartans responded with a 16-2 run to extend their least to 21 (38-17) with less than three minutes remaining. Penn State scored the game's next four points but the Spartans scored eight of the final 11 points in the half to take a 46-24 lead at the break.
Nickson had five points and four rebounds, while Lucas added five tallies for Penn State. The Lady Lions had 14 turnovers in the opening frame and were just 1-for-9 from three-point range.
Penn State came out strong in the second half as Lucas scored eight points to spark a 10-3 run to close the gap to 15 (49-34) just over three minutes into the frame. Following a three-pointer by Alton, the Lady Lions had a 5-0 spurt that featured a free throw by Greene and a thrilling four-point play for Lucas that roused the BJC fans and made it a 52-39 lead with less than 15 minutes left.
The Spartans kept the Lady Lions at bay on would push the lead back to 17 (63-49) with 8:42 remaining. After an exchange of scores, the Lady Lions clicked off 12-0 run that featured a pair of three-pointers by Lucas and five points by Gray, including a three-pointer to slice the margin to four points (65-61) with 3:15 remaining. Kiana Johnson converted on a pair of free throws, Penn State bounced back with a Lucas layup off of a Nickson steal to make it a four-point game (67-63) with just over two minutes remaining. On the ensuing MSU possession, Penn State got the stop, but Gray missed a three-pointer in transition and yielded a jumper to Kiana Johnson with 1:14 left. The Lady Lions could only muster a pair of Lucas free throws in the final minute and the Spartans sealed the win with six free throws.
GAME NOTES: Sophomore Maggie Lucas had a career-high 33 points, surpassing her previous personal best of 28 at Boston College (12/2/10) ... She also tied personal marks with seven threes and made a career-best 10 field goals ... Lucas' 33 points were the most by a player since Tyra Grant posted 32 on March 5, 2010 ... Lucas' seven three pointers are the most for a Lady Lion since Lucas had seven vs. Hartford on Nov. 27, 2010 ... Junior Nikki Greene led the team with 11 rebounds. She now has 581 for her career to rank 23rd in the Penn State history ... Junior Alex Bentley moved into 29th place on PSU's career scoring list (1,085 pts.) ... Redshirt junior Mia Nickson reached the 400-point milestone for her Penn State career with seven tallies today. She has 405 points during her time as a Lady Lion ... The Lady Lions are now 24-12 all-time versus Michigan State and 15-4 all-time against the Spartans in Happy Valley.
The Lady Lions continue their two-game homestand against Michigan on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. It will be Dollar Dog Night at the BJC. Penn State then heads on the road for a pair of games at Nebraska (Jan. 15) and at Illinois (Jan. 19). Lady Lion Basketball season tickets are available by calling 814-867-2557. Season tickets are $117 for adults, $52 for youth and $91 for seniors. Single game tickets go on sale Tuesday, Oct. 11. 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 2012 WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26 as the Lady Lions take on Minnesota in the Bryce Jordan Center. Last year, the Lady Lions donated nearly $200,000 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, 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.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.