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Nov. 11, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The #12/14 Penn State Lady Lions (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) needed a 13-0 run over the final seven minutes of the game to claim a 72-60 win over Washington State (0-1) in the opening round of the Lady Lion Classic. It is the fifth consecutive season-opening win for the Lady Lions under head coach Coquese Washington. The Lady Lions advance to the Championship game against either Middle Tennessee State or UNC-Wilmington on Sunday.
Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) and Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) paced the Lady Lions with 22 points each. Lucas also added a career-high nine rebounds, narrowly missing her first career double-double. Additionally, Lucas was 11-for-13 from the field. Bentley added four rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in the game. Bentley became the 14th player in school history to reach the 300-assist plateau.
Sophomore post player Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) had a career night with personal bests of six points, eight rebounds and two blocks. She connected on all three of her shots from the field. Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) added six points and seven boards, while Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) chipped in seven points.
The teams exchanged scores out of the gate but the Lady Lions took the lead with back-to-back three-pointers by Lucas and a layup by Bentley to take a 10-2 lead with 15 minutes left in the half. The Cougars scored six of the game's next eight points to close within four points (12-8) but scores by Lucas and Nickson pushed the lead back to 16-8 with 12:30 on the clock.
Washington State compiled an 8-0 that included four points by Rosetta Adzasu to even the score at 16-16 with 10:24 to play in the opening half. Four-straight points by Bentley gave Penn State a 20-16 lead, but the Cougars rallied with a 17-7 run to take a 33-27 lead with less than three minutes left. The Lady Lions gathered themselves to put together an 8-1 run that featured four points by East to surge ahead, but the Cougars scored the final four points of the half to take a 38-35 lead at the break.
Lucas was 4-for-6 from the field in the opening frame en route to a team-best 16 points. She also pulled in four rebounds. Bentley added eight points and three assists, while East tallied four points and four rebounds in the first half.
Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) got the Lady Lions on the board in the second half with a pair of free throws, but WSU would score six of the next eight points to extend its lead to 44-39 with 17:39 on the clock. The Lions responded either a spurt of their own thanks to a layup by East and a three-pointer by Gray to square the game at 44-44 with 17 minutes remaining
Washington State surged ahead with a pair of three-pointers sandwiched around a jumper by Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) to establish a 50-46 lead with 14:31 left. The Lady Lions responded with a 13-5 to take a four-point lead (59-55) with 10 minutes to play. The run featured three points apiece from Nickson and Bentley.
The Cougars retook the lead with five-straight points before Penn State closed the game on a 13-0 run to take home the 72-60 win over Washington State. Bentley was instrumental in the game-winning run with nine points, including a nearly half-court shot at the buzzer.
GAME NOTES: The Lady Lions are 36-12 all-time in openers ... Penn State is 40-8 all-time in home openers, including 13-3 in the BJC ... The win marks the fifth-straight season-opener win under Coquese Washington ... The Lady Lions are 124-49 in regular-season tournament play with 26 titles ... Alex Bentley bypasses the 300-assist milestone (303) and becomes 14th player to accomplish the feat ... Bentley and Maggie Lucas acquire their first 20-point games of the season, putting up 22 points apiece ... Sophomore Talia East hits career highs with six points and eight rebounds ... Lucas tops her career high in rebounds, totaling nine ... Ariel Edwards exceeds the 100-point milestone (101) contributing four points to the Lady Lions total.
The Lady Lions begin a four-game road swing at Delaware on Thursday, before visiting South Carolina (Nov. 20). Penn State topped the Blue Hens last season, 64-55 in the Bryce Jordan Center, led by 16 points from Maggie Lucas off of the bench. Lady Lion Basketball season tickets are available by calling 814-867-2557. Season tickets are $117 for adults, $52 for youth and $91 for seniors. Single game tickets go on sale Tuesday, Oct. 11. PNC Flex Books are available again this year for $99. The Flex Book gives 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 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.