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No. 16/15 Lady Lions Top the No. 14/13 Tar Heels in Big Ten/ACC Challenge, 103-84

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Alex Bentley

Nov. 30, 2011

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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The #16/15 Penn State Lady Lions (6-1, 0-0 Big Ten) connected on a school-record 14 three-pointers on the way to a 103-84 victory over #14/13 North Carolina Tar Heels (5-1, 0-0 ACC) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Wednesday at the Bryce Jordan Center. This is the second game in a row that Penn State scored at least 100 points after a 103-65 win at Nevada (11/26). The last time the Lady Lions scored 100 points in back-to-back games was in 1993 when the Lady Lions defeated Nebraska, 102-66, on Jan. 2 and Illinois, 101-71, on Jan. 7. Penn State defeats a ranked opponent for the first time since topping No. 14/13 Iowa (68-59) on Dec. 30, 2010.

The 14 three-pointers by the Lady Lions surpass the previous school record of 13 triples in a game, accomplished twice (at Dayton, 11/21/10; vs. St. Francis (12/2/99). PSU also tied for the most three-pointers by a North Carolina opponent. Penn State, which shot 48.7% from the field, had 26 assists on 38 baskets.

All five starters reached double figures, led by senior guard Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) who was 6-for-10 from the long range en route to 25 points to go along with a career-high six assists. Junior guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) notched her first career double-double with 15 points and a personal-best 15 assists. The 15 assists by Bentley are tied for 11th on PSU's single-game list.

Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) added 21 points, while Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) chipped in 13 points and career highs of eight rebounds and three assists. Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) also reached double figures with 13 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.

The game started with a great pace as neither team led by more than four points in the opening eight minutes until a 6-0 run by the Lady Lions gave Penn State a 25-20 margin. Greene, Lucas and Marisa Wolfe (Ford City, Pa.) all scored for Penn State in the run. The Tar Heels responded, going on a 14-6 run to take a 34-29 lead with 7:49 to play in the half.

Back-to-back scores by Bentley and a layup by Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) got the Lady Lions within a single point (34-33) before North Carolina went on a 6-3 spurt to push the lead back to four (40-36) with 5:42 to play. Penn State fought right back starting with a Tori Waldner (Milton, Ga.) basket and five consecutive points by Lucas to take a 43-40 lead. After the Tar Heels scored five of the next eight points, Bentley connected on a pair of free throws and Lucas nailed her third three-pointer of the game to make it a 51-45 advantage for the Lady Lions with 3:23 on the clock. The squads exchanged scores for the remainder of the period with Gray closing out the scoring with a three-pointer to give the Lady Lions a 58-51 lead at the break.

Lucas led all scorers with 16 points, including four three-pointers, and a pair of rebounds. Bentley added 13 points, seven assists and a pair of steals, while Gray added 11 points and four helpers. Both teams shot well from the field with the Lady Lions connecting on 47.8% (22-46) of their shots and UNC making 44.7% (17-38) of their attempts. Penn State turned the ball over just one time in the first 20 minutes while forcing 13 Tarheel turnovers. Laura Broomfield notched a double-double in the first half with 14 points and 15 rebounds.

Lucas picked up her fourth foul of the game at the 19:04 mark of the second half and was relegated to the bench, but the teams continued to exchange scores until a three-pointer by Edwards and a layup by Waldner made it a 12-point game (67-55) with 15 minutes left. The Lady Lions would push the lead to 13 (70-57) on a Gray three-pointer just a minute later, but the Tar Heels fought back with a 9-0 run to close within four at 70-66 with 11:32 remaining in the game.

Penn State responded with a 9-0 run of their own that featured five points by Gray and three points each from Greene and Wolfe to take an 84-66 lead with 7:35 remaining. The Tar Heels would cut it to 12 in the final seven minutes, but that was as close as North Carolina would get. The Lady lions scored the game's final four points for the 19-point win.

GAME NOTES: This is the second game in a row that Penn State scored at least 100 points, having defeated Nevada on Nov. 26, 103-65. The last time the Lady Lions scored 100 points in back-to-back games was in 1993 when the Lady Lions defeated Nebraska, 102-66, on Jan. 2 and Illinois, 101-71, on Jan. 7 ... The 14 three-pointers by the Lady Lions are a school record, topping the previous mark of 13, accomplished twice (at Dayton, 11/21/10; vs. St. Francis (12/2/99) ... The 14 threes by PSU are tied for the most for a North Carolina opponent ... Penn State defeats a ranked opponent for the first time since topping No. 14/13 Iowa (68-59) on Dec. 30, 2010 ... The Lady Lions are now 3-2 all-time vs. North Carolina ... Penn State improved its record to 2-3 in Big Ten/ACC Challenge games ... The Lady Lions snapped their three-game losing streak in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge ... The Lady Lions outscored North Carolina 22-15 with Maggie Lucas on the bench for seven of the first eight minutes of the second half with four fouls ... The Lady Lions scored 58 points in the first half, marking the first time the Lions scored more than 55 points in a half since scoring 55 in the second half vs. Boston College on Dec. 2, 2010 ... Junior Alex Bentley posted the first double-double of her career with 15 points and 15 assists ... Bentley's 15 assist are a career high and are tied for 11th on Penn State's single-game chart ... Junior Marisa Wolfe made the fourth three-pointer of her career ... Senior Zhaque Gray led the team with 25 points, two shy of her career-high ... Five Lady Lions posted double-digit points, including Gray (25), Lucas (21), Bentley (15), sophomore Ariel Edwards (13) and junior Nikki Greene (13), for the first time since having had five players with double digit points was on Feb. 3, 2011 vs. Michigan . . Gray posted a career-high six assists ... Edwards had a career-best three assists and tied her career-high in rebounds with eight, which was a team-best ... Freshman post Tori Waldner had a career-high six points and two blocks.

The Lady Lions travel to Texas Tech in the return game of the Big 12/Big Ten Challenge Saturday. Last season, Penn State earned a 76-68 win at home over the Red Raiders. The Lady Lions are 3-2 all-time against TTU with wins in the last two games. PSU dropped a 79-65 decision in the only meeting in Lubbock on Dec. 21, 2004. Penn State opens a three-game homestand against Virginia Tech on Tuesday, Dec. 6. 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 The WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State is also on Facebook at

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




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