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Dec. 30, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Junior guard Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) drained a three-pointer to complete a late run in the second half as the Penn State Lady Lions (12-3, 1-0) rallied from a seven-point deficit with 6:33 remaining to upset No. 14/13 Iowa (12-2, 0-1), 68-59, in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Penn State outscored the Hawkeyes, 20-4, in the final 6:30 to post their first win over a ranked team since defeating No. 20 Michigan State, 68-60, on Jan. 17, 2010. The Lady Lions claimed their first win in a Big Ten opener since the 2004-05 season.
Sophomore guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) led the Lady Lions' offensive charge with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including three three-pointers. She also dished out three assists and pulled in two rebounds. Gray was 6-for-12 from the field en route to 14 points to go along with five rebounds and a career high-tying five assists.
Senior guard/forward Julia Trogele (Devon, Pa.) also reached double figures with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Sophomore center Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) narrowly missed a double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and five steals.
Both teams struggled offensively to start the game as neither squad would score until Iowa's Jaime Printy registered a layup at the 17:08 mark. The Hawkeyes would add to their lead with a three-pointer to take a 5-0 advantage with 15:20 remaining. The Lady Lions found their offensive stroke with a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to take a 12-5 lead. Bentley jump-started the Lions with back-to-back threes, followed by buckets by Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.), Trogele and Greene.
After an exchange of scores, the Hawkeyes reeled off a 10-0 run to regain the lead at 17-14 with 8:40 remaining in the half. The Lady Lions responded with an 8-2 spurt to take a three-point lead (22-19) with less than six minutes to play in the opening frame. Four different Penn State players scored during the run.
Following a Hawkeye basket, Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) knocked down a pair of free throws and Trogele connected on a layup to push the lead back to five (26-21) with 4:17 on the clock. The squads exchanged three-point baskets, Iowa went on a 10-3 run to take a two-point lead (34-32) with less than a minute in the half. Bentley knotted the game at 34-34 heading into halftime with a pair of free throws with two seconds left.
Bentley led all scorers in the first half with 13 points, while Trogele added six points and three rebounds. After the slow start offensively, the Lady Lions recovered to shoot 43.3% (13-30) from the field in the opening frame. Printy led Iowa with 10 points.
The Lady Lions got on the board first in the second half with a layup by Greene, but the Hawkeyes responded with a three-pointer by Printy. Following a layup by Lucas, Iowa scored the game's next four points to take a 41-38 lead with 16 minutes left to play. The Hawkeyes would stretch the lead to four points (46-42) with 14 minutes left in the game.
Gray scored back-to-back baskets on a jumper and a fastbreak layup off of the feed from Lucas to tie the game at 46-46 with 11:05 on the clock. However, Printy knocked down an NBA-range three-pointer in transition to give the Hawkeyes the lead again with nine minutes left. On the ensuing possession, Greene made one of two free throws to slice the deficit with 49-47 with 8:39 remaining. After a few scoreless possessions, Kelly Krei drained a wide open three-pointer to push Iowa's lead to five points (52-47) with less than eight minutes to play.
After Nickson made one of two free throws, Krei nailed a second-straight three-pointer to extend the lead to 55-48 with 6:33 on the clock. A jumper by Bentley kicked off the Lady Lions' final push. Trogele took a nifty pass from Gray on the fast break for an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the deficit to 55-53 with 5:37 remaining. On the ensuing Iowa possession, Kamille Wahlin made of two free throws to stretch the lead back to three points, but the Lions responded with a layup by Bentley, followed by a three-point by Gray to take a 58-56 with 3:51 remaining.
The Lady Lions extended the lead seven points (65-58) with a jumper by Greene and five consecutive points by Gray. Penn State would seal the win by making three of four free throw attempts in the final 37 seconds.
GAME NOTES: Penn State improves to 11-8 in Big Ten opening games ... It is the Lady Lions' first win in a Big Ten opener since 2005 ... Penn State has now won three out of their last four against the Hawkeyes ... Sophomore center Nikki Greene registered a season-high five blocks ... Greene surpassed the 300-rebound mark for her career ... The Lady Lions earned their first win over a ranked team since defeating No. 20 Michigan State on January 17, 2010.
The Lady Lions hit the road for the first time in a month when they travel to Wisconsin on Sunday, Jan. 2 and Northwestern on Thursday, Jan. 6, The Northwestern game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network at 8:30 p.m. 2010-11 Lady Lion Basketball Single-game tickets are available by calling 814-863-1000 or 800-NITTANY. The 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 2011 WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State will take place on Sunday, Feb. 27 at noon as the Lady Lions take on Northwestern in the Bryce Jordan Center. The game can be seen on the Big Ten Network. Last year, the Lady Lions donated more than $80,000 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 and J.C. Blair Memorial 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.