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Feb. 12, 2012
EVANSTON, ILL. - The No. 18/21 Penn State Lady Lions (20-5, 10-3) landed four players in double figures and saw all nine players score en route to a 77-63 win at Northwestern (13-12, 3-9) Sunday. Junior guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) led the Penn State effort with 18 points on a 7-for-12 effort from the field. She also had two rebounds and two steals.
Sophomore guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) narrowly missed out on her first career double-double with 11 points to go along with a career-high tying nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Senior Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.), playing in front of her hometown crowd for the final time, had 17 points and tied her personal mark with six assists.
Junior center Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) also reached double figures with 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks, while fellow center Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) contributed six points and 10 rebounds in just 13 minutes.
With Northwestern leading 3-2 two minutes into the game, a three-pointer and a layup by Lucas sparked a 15-2 run to give the Lady Lions a 17-5 lead with 14:46 on the clock. Gray had a pair of layups off of feeds from Lucas during the run, while Bentley, Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) and Greene also scored during the run.
After the Wildcats scored the game's next six points to pull within six, Penn State clicked off a 10-0 run to push the lead back to 16 (27-11). Edwards scored four points during the run, while Greene, Bentley and Gray each added two markers. Northwestern fired back with back-to-back three-point scores to slice into the lead (27-17). After an exchange of scores, the Lady Lions closed out the half with a 12-6 run to take a 41-25 lead at the break.
Seven different Lady Lions scored in the opening half, led by Lucas, who led all scorers in the opening frame with nine points to go along with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Bentley added eight tallies, while Greene, Gray and Edwards added six markers each.
After Northwestern opened the scoring in the second half with a bucket by Morgan Jones, the Lady Lions go a layup from Nickson, a three-pointer by Bentley and fadeaway jumper from Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) to extend the lead to 48-27 with 18:34 left in the game. However, the Wildcats responded with a 12-2 run of their own to close within 13 (50-37) with 16 minutes to play.
Following a three-pointer by Gray, the Wildcats scored the next five points to move within 10 (52-42) with less than 14 minutes remaining. Back-to-back scores by Lucas and Gray extended the lead to 15 (57-42) with 13:07 on the clock. The squads exchanged scores over the next several possessions to keep the lead at 15 until a 10-3 spurt by Northwestern pulled the Wildcats within 12 (73-61) with four minutes to play. Gray scored four of the game's final six points to seal the 77-63 win.
GAME NOTES: The win is the 20th of the season for the Lady Lions, marking Penn State's second-straight 20-win season and 24th overall ... It was also Penn State's ninth road win of the season, equaling the most wins away from the BJC since the 2003-04 season ... The victory is the 825th in program history ... Senior guard Zhaque Gray tied her career high with six assists, equaling the mark set against North Carolina on Nov. 30, 2011 ... Sophomore guard Maggie Lucas tied her career high with seven assists and nine rebounds. Lucas' also had seven helpers against Wisconsin (1/2/12) and had nine boards against Washington State (11/11/11).
The Lady Lions closes out the road portion of its regular-season schedule at Purdue (Feb. 16), a game that will air on the Big Ten Network. Penn State returns to the BJC for its final two games against Ohio State on Monday, Feb. 20 and for the Pink Zone game vs. Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 26. Single game tickets and PNC Flex Books 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, which 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 at 2 p.m. 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.