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March 24, 2013
BATON ROUGE, LA. - The third-seeded Penn State Lady Lions (26-5, 14-2 Big Ten) scored 47 points in the second half as they picked up an 85-55 victory over the No. 14 seed Cal Poly Mustangs (21-11, 13-5 Big West) on Sunday evening to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. With the victory, Penn State will play No. 6 LSU on Tuesday night at 9:45 (ET) at the Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.
The Lady Lions sported four players in double figures with junior Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) leading the way on 19 points, four assists and four steals. Senior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) had a great all-around game, tallying her 15th career double-double of her career on 13 points and 13 rebounds. It was Nickson's third career double-double in six NCAA Tournament games. Senior Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) chipped in 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Senior Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) added 11 points and eight rebounds in the victory, while junior Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) was stellar off the bench with12 rebounds, four points and three blocks. Junior Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) tallied nine points and three assists and junior Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) scored seven points to go along with four assists.
Cal Poly's Molly Schlemer opened the game with a field goal on the Mustangs' first possession, but Nickson answered with a turnaround jumper in the lane. Taylor then got on the fastbreak and found Greene in the lane for an easy layup. Two Schlemer free throws tied the game up going into the first media timeout. Schlemer went on to score the first 10 points for the Mustangs, while Lucas, Nickson and Greene each hit field goals to tie the game up at 10 at the 12:12 mark. Cal Poly's Kristen Ale hit three free throws coming out of the second media timeout to put the Mustangs in front, 13-10. However, Bentley went on a personal 6-2 run to give the Lady Lions a 16-15 advantage, but Ale hit a pair of free throws to give the Mustangs a 17-16 advantage with 8:27 to play in the first half.
The Lady Lions regrouped and answered with an 11-0 run. Edwards got on the board with a take to the basket to give Penn State an 18-17 lead. Lucas followed with a jumper and Edwards scored her second layup within a minute to put Penn State up 22-17. Nickson then went on to score a layup, followed by one free throw from Bentley. Lucas tallied her sixth point on a layup off a steal by Taylor to close the run and increase the Lady Lion lead to 27-20 with 4:32 to play.
After going scoreless for three-plus minutes, Caroline Reeves nailed a three for the Mustangs to shrink the Penn State lead to seven. Nickson answered with a baseline jumper, but a three by Ariana Elegado and a free throw by Nikol Allison made the lead just five for the Lady Lions. However, Penn State answered with a turnaround hook shot by Greene and two free throws by Lucas. A field goal by Cal Poly made it 33-26 in favor of the Lady Lions, but senior Gizelle Studevent (La Jolla, Calif.) etched her name in the stat sheet with a baseline jumper. After two made free throws by Cal Poly, Lucas nailed a fade away three-pointer near the top of the key as time expired to give Penn State a 10-point lead at halftime.
Penn State came out firing in the second half with a layup from Nickson, a Bentley jumper and a field goal from Lucas to give the Lady Lions a 44-28 lead in the first minute of the frame. Cal Poly came back with two makes to cut it back to 12, but a make by East and two Taylor free throws put Penn State back up 48-32. Schlemer scored her first point since the 9:29 mark in the first by hitting two-straight field goals to shrink the lead to 12 (48-36) with 15:30 to go in regulation.
The Lady Lions answered with an 11-0 run to increase their lead to 23 points (59-36). Nickson kicked things off with a putback, followed by an Edwards baseline transition jumper. East made two free throws and Lucas garnered a steal and scored on a transition layup before Nickson drained one of two free throws to extend the margin. Lucas scored on another transition layup off a steal to close out the run with the Lady Lions leading 59-36 with 11:28 to go in regulation.
Following an exchange of baskets, Greene, Bentley and Lucas combined for eight-straight points to give Penn State a 29-point advantage with 8:32 to go. The Mustangs would get no closer than 27 over the remaining eight-plus minutes as the Lady Lions secured the 30-point win.
GAME NOTES: The Lady Lions improve to 30-23 all-time in the NCAA Tournament ... Penn State increases its record to 15-3 in First Round games ... Penn State improves to 6-0 all-time versus teams from the Big West Conference ... In their three NCAA Tournament games at the Maravich Center, the Lady Lions have scored 80 or more points in each contest, averaging 86.7 points in three wins ... With one steal, Alex Bentley moves into a tie for ninth place in Big Ten history with Joy Holmes of Purdue with 323 career thefts ... With 13 rebounds, Mia Nickson passed Tanisha Wright for 21st all-time in program history with 629 boards ... Nickson posts her 15th career double-double overall and her third career double-double in an NCAA Tournament game (6 career games) ... Nickson's 13 boards are a career-high for her in an NCAA Tournament contest ... The four steals by Maggie Lucas ties her with Angie Potthoff for 19th in program history with 174 thefts ... The four takeaways for Lucas surpasses her career-high for steals in an NCAA Tournament game ... Lucas passes Susan Robinson (1989-90) for the sixth most points in a single season with 635 ... Lucas now has 30 double-figure scoring performances this season ... Nikki Greene passes Andrea Garner (1998-99) for 20th in rebounds in a season with 255 ... Talia East's three blocks and 12 rebounds are both career-highs for her in an NCAA Tournament game ... Ariel Edwards posted an NCAA Tournament best three assists ... Gizelle Studevent tallied the first four points of her NCAA Tournament career ... Dara Taylor recorded her 100th assist this season.
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