No. 8/9 Lady Lions Sprint Past the Spartans, 71-56
Feb. 10, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The #8/9 Penn State Lady Lions (20-3, 10-1 Big Ten) notched the program's 25th 20-win season with a 71-56 victory over Michigan State (18-5, 6-4) on Sunday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center. The win gives Penn State its third-straight 20-win season and 18th-straight home win.
The Lady Lions sported three players in double-figures with senior Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Pa.) leading the way with 24 points to go along with three assists and four steals. Junior Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) netted 19 points with five rebounds and two assists, while senior Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) chipped in 13 points and six rebounds to go along with three blocks.
The Lady Lions accounted for 17 steals, the fifth time this season in which they have recorded at least 17 thefts. Junior Dara Taylor (Wilmington), senior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) and Bentley each recorded four steals, while sophomore Tori Waldner (Milton, Ga.) tallied a career-high three thefts.
The Spartans jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead, but the Lady Lions would score the next four points on a made free throw from Greene and a free throw followed by a turnaround jumper from Nickson. Michigan State would increase the lead to 10-6 before Bentley converted on an old-fashioned three-point play to make it a one-point game. However, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run to increase their lead to 17-9. Following a Lucas floater in the lane, MSU's Becca Mills hit a three to give the Spartans their largest lead, 20-11.
Out of the media timeout, the Lady Lions answered with an 8-0 run in a 1:21 time span. Bentley started the stretch with two free throws then Taylor then stole the inbound pass and found Lucas, who threaded the needle to Greene on a pass in the lane, where the Texas native converted to cut the Spartan lead to 20-15. Greene scored the next four points all on layups to cap off the 8-0 run and to make the lead for Michigan State just one point (20-19).
After the Spartans rebuilt their lead to 25-21 with 3:54 to go in the first half, the Lady Lions put together an 11-2 run to end the half. Bentley scored the first four points on a pair of free throws and a jumper, Edwards then made two from the charity stripe and Lucas drained a crossover stepback three at the top of the key to give Penn State a 30-25 edge. Jasmine Thomas stopped the Penn State streak with two free throws for the Spartans, but a Nickson turnaround jumper gave the Lady Lions a 32-27 lead heading into the half.
Penn State opened the second half scoring 12 of the first 16 points. Bentley kicked things off with a jumper in the lane followed by a Spartan field goal to make the score 34-29. The Lady Lions scored the next six on a jumper from a Bentley, a three from Lucas and a free throw by Nickson to put the Lady Lions up by 11 (40-29). Following a pair of basket exchanges, Penn State tallied another 9-0 run with the first five coming from Lucas on free throws and a three-point goal before Bentley went on to score the next four on fastbreak layups to give Penn State a game-high 53-34 advantage with 12:14 to go in the game.
The Spartans went on to score 10 of the next 12 points to cut the Lady Lion lead to 11 with 9:04 remaining, but layups by Lucas and Bentley increased the lead to 15 (59-44) at the 5:40 mark, but the Spartans again went on to score eight to the next 10 to make it 61-52 with 4:26 to go. Following exchanges of scores, a free throw from Greene, jumper from Bentley and an and-one layup by Greene gave the Lady Lions a 69-54 advantage with 1:16 remaining. A Bentley jumper in the paint would follow a Spartan score to seal a 71-56 Penn State victory.
GAME NOTES: Sunday's win clinched Penn State's 25th 20-win season in program history and the third-straight 20-win season for the Lady Lions ... Penn State earns its 14th 10-win Big Ten campaign in 21 seasons as a conference member ... The Lady Lions improve to 26-13 all-time against the Spartans and 15-4 against Michigan State in home games ... The Lady Lions sweep the regular-season series from the Spartans for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign ... Penn State extends its home court winning streak to 18 games ... The Lady Lions tallied at least 17 steals in a game for the fifth time this season. The five games with 17 or more thefts is the most since the 1993-94 squad had six games with 17 or more steals ... Alex Bentley scored a season-best 24 points ... Bentley tallied her 300th career steal, becoming just the fourth player in school history to accomplish the feat ... Bentley is also just the fourth player in Big Ten history with 1,500 points, 500 assists and 300 steals ... Bentley tallied her 23rd career 20-point game ... Bentley moves into ninth place in program history with 1,649 points, leading her teammate, Maggie Lucas (10th place), by one point ... Lucas is now in a tie for fourth place with Lindsey Meder (Iowa) in Big Ten history with 261 three-point field goals ... Lucas' three three-point field goals moves her into a tie for eighth place with Lisa Shepherd's 1998-99 campaign with 67 three-pointers in a season ... With six rebounds, Nikki Greene passes Angie Potthoff (1993-97) for fifth place in school history with 922 boards ... Greene matched her season-best in blocks with three rejections ... Tori Waldner tallied a career-best three steals ... Mia Nickson had a season-high four steals.
The Lady Lions visit Iowa on Valentine's Day before getting its second bye date of the conference season. Following the bye, Penn State returns home for it's final two games in the BJC against Illinois (2/20) and Michigan (2/24) for the annual Pink Zone game. Go to www.GoPSUsports.com/promotions/wbb.html for complete promotions information.
Single game tickets for the Lady Lions are on sale. 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.