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March 1, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The #12/8 Penn State Lady Lions (22-6, 13-3 Big Ten) seniors led the way as the Lady Lions claimed their third consecutive Big Ten regular-season championship with a 77-62 win over Michigan (17-12, 8-8) Saturday. It is the first time in Penn State history that the Lady Lions have won three consecutive regular-season conference championships (Big Ten or Atlantic 10). The Lady Lions join Ohio State (2005-10 and 1982-87) and Iowa (1987-90) as the only Big Ten teams to win three or more consecutive Big Ten titles.
The Lady Lions will wait until the rest of the Big Ten schedule is completed tomorrow to find out seeding for the 2014 Big Ten Tournament. Penn State will be either the one or two seed for the tourney.
All four seniors reached double figures on the day, led by Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.), who posted her second-straight 20-point game with 21 tallies on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. She also added five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) tallied a career-high 16 points to go along with seven rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals.
Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) scored 13 of her 17 points in the first half. She was 5-for-10 from the field and also chipped in three rebounds, four assists and three steals. Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) was the final senior in double figures with 11 points with seven assists, three rebounds and three steals. Junior Tori Waldner (Milton, Ga.) added eight points.
The Wolverines jumped out to the 8-4 lead in the first three minutes before a 7-2 run by Lucas gave the Lions an 11-10 lead with 14:42 on the clock. Michigan would score six of the next nine points to take a two-point advantage (16-14) just over a minute later.
Edwards converted on a layup, followed by two free throws from Lucas and Waldner capped the 6-0 run with a layup off of a great fee from Peyton Whitted (Suwanee, Ga.) to take a 20-16 lead with 11:28 to play in the first. The Wolverines cut the margin to two (22-20) by scoring four of the next six tallies.
East spurred the next Lady Lion surge with back-to-back baby hook shots to make it a 26-20 lead with 7:47 to play. The Wolverines climbed within three at 30-27 with 3:27 left. Penn State bounced back as Lucas connected on a long jumper, followed by a layup for East on the feed from Lucas. After a bucket by the Wolverines, Taylor and Edwards scored back-to-back baskets and Taylor capped the 10-2 run with a jumper to force a Michigan timeout with Penn State leading, 40-29. The Wolverines closed the first half scoring with two free throws with seven seconds left to make it a 40-31 Penn State lead at the break.
The Lady Lions extended their lead to 13 (44-31) as East make four consecutive free throws to open the second half. After Michigan's Madison Ristovski hit a three, Edwards went on a personal 6-2 run to push the lead to 14 (50-36) with 16:39 left. After the Wolverines when 2-for-4 from the free throw line in one possession, Penn State clicked off a 6-0 run to make it 59-38 with 12:43 to play. All four seniors scored during the spurt.
Following a three-point play by Michigan's Shannon Smith, East and Edwards scored the game's next four points to make it a 63-41 game with 11 minutes left. The Wolverines scored the game's next eight points to close the gap to 63-49 with 8:48 on the clock.
The squads exchanged scores over the next several minutes to keep the gap at 14 points until the Lions went on a 6-0 run to make it a 20-point game (73-53) with four minutes left. Michigan outscore Penn State 9-4 in the final four minutes for the final margin.
GAME NOTES: Penn State clinches at least a share of its third-straight Big Ten regular-season title ... This is the first time school history that Penn State has won three consecutive conference regular-season titles (Big Ten or Atlantic 10) ... The Lady Lions join Ohio State (2005-10 and 1982-87) and Iowa (1987-90) as the only Big Ten teams to win three or more consecutive Big Ten titles ... Penn State will be either the one or two seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament ... Lions are now 31-9 all-time against Michigan ... This is the 99th win for 2014 senior class ... Talia East had a career-high 16 points, surpassing her previous mark of 14 set against Iowa on Feb. 6, 2014 ... East moves to eighth place on Penn State's career blocks list with 97 rejections ... With six made free throws, Maggie Lucas moves to second on Penn State's single-season free throws list with 165 ... Lucas needs one three-pointer to tie Kelly Mazzante's Big Ten and Penn State career three-pointers record ... Dara Taylor moves to 18th in Penn State all-time career assists with 240 (Kelly Mazzante: 237, 2001-04).