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Jan. 15, 2012
LINCOLN, NEB. - The No. RV/25 Penn State Lady Lions (13-4, 3-2) shot 60.6% from the field in the second half and Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) and Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) each reached the 20-point mark as the Lady Lions earned a 93-73 win at No. 15/23 Nebraska (15-2, 4-1) to hand the Huskers their first-ever Big Ten loss.
Lucas led all scorers with 24 points on 7-for-15 shooting en route to her 10th 20-point game of the season. She also contributed six rebounds and a steal in the win. Bentley accounted for 23 tallies via a 9-for-17 shooting effort to surpass the 1,100-point mark for her career and move her into 28th place on Penn State's career scoring chart. Bentley also contributed four steals and five rebounds.
Senior guard Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) added 16 points, while Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) and Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) also reached double figures with 12 points apiece. Greene, who scored all 12 of her points in the second half, pulled in eight rebounds. Nickson tallied her second double-double of the season and eighth of her career with 11 rebounds. The 53.7% shooting percentage against the Huskers this go-round was a marked improvement from the 29.4% that Penn State shot in the 71-63 loss in State College on Dec. 30.
The Huskers took early control starting the game with a 14-5 run in front of a raucous crowd. After a pair of baskets by Bentley brought the Lady Lions within five (14-9) with just over 14 minutes to play, Nebraska scored seven of the next nine points to push its lead to 10 (21-11). Penn State had a 6-3 spurt to cut the deficit to 24-17 with less than 12 minutes left. The Cornhuskers, who made 12 of their first 16 shots from the field, scored four of the game's next six points to push their lead back to nine points (28-19).
Bentley kick-started an 11-2 surge that featured a pair of three-pointers from Lucas and a triple from Gray to even the score at 30-30 with 7:45 on the clock. The squads swapped scores over the next six minutes until the Cornhuskers scored the final six points of the half on a deep three-pointer by Jordan Hooper and a three-point play by Lindsey Moore to take a 44-38 lead into the break.
Bentley led all scorers with 16 points to go along with three steals, while Gray and Lucas added eight points each in the opening frame.
The Lady Lions came out firing in the second half with a three-pointer by Lucas and a layup in traffic by Gray to pull Penn State within one point (44-43) just a minute into the half. After a bucket by the Huskers, Bentley converted on a three-point play and knocked down a pull-up jumper to give Penn State its first lead of the game, 48-46, with 18 minutes remaining. After the Huskers scored three of the game's next five points from the free throw line, Marisa Wolfe (Ford City, Pa.) knocked down a 15-footer to start a 6-0 spurt by the Lady Lions that gave Penn State a 56-49 lead with less than 16 minutes on the clock.
The Cornhuskers closed within five (58-53) before an 8-2 run, featuring three points by Lucas and Nickson and a jumper by Gray, gave the Lady Lions an 11-point lead (66-55) with 12:13 left in the game. After Nebraska closed within eight (68-60), Penn State used an 8-3 spurt to extend their lead to 76-63 with eight minutes to play. Bentley accounted for four points in the run, while Greene and Nickson added two points apiece.
After Nebraska closed within 12 (78-66), the Lady Lions got consecutive scores by Gray, Lucas and Greene to push the lead to 84-66 with four minutes left. Following a three-pointer by Kaitlyn Burke, Greene took the game over, scoring six points in a 9-4 run to end the game for Penn State.
GAME NOTES: Maggie Lucas turned in her 10th 20-point game of the season with 24 tallies ... Alex Bentley posted her sixth 20-point game of the season with 23 markers ... She also moved past Missy Masley (1,106; 1992-95) for 28th place on Penn State's career scoring chart with 1,120 career points ... Mia Nickson registered her second double-double of the season and eighth of her career with 12 points and 11 rebounds ... Penn State handed Nebraska its first-ever Big Ten loss ... The Lady Lions are now 3-1 all-time against the Cornhuskers ... With eight rebounds, Nikki Greene moved into a tie for 20th place on Penn State's career rebounding chart. Her 598 career boards are tied with Helen Holloway ... Penn State had five players in double figures for the first time since the North Carolina win earlier this season.
The Lady Lions continue their road swing at Illinois (Jan. 19) before returning to the BJC to face Iowa on Sunday, Jan. 22. The Iowa game is a Subway Full Court 4-pack game and it's Kids Day where all kids that in 8th grade or younger will be admitted for FREE if they wear Lady Lion Basketball gear. Single game tickets, PNC Flex Books and Starting 5 ticket packages are available by calling 800-NITTANY. PNC Flex Books are $99 and give 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 Starting 5 Pack is $49 and features tickets to three games of the buyer's choice, a ticket for the Ohio State ESPN2 Big Monday game on Monday, Feb. 20 and a ticket for the Pink Zone game against Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 26.
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.