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Feb. 11, 2012
By Laura Finley, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Lady Lions jumped to the lead and never looked back during Thursday night's game against Wisconsin. Leading by as many as 19 points during the second half, the Lady Lions took advantage of their own defense, forcing missed opportunities by the Badgers and going on to win 69-54.
"We made it a point to get up and guard them," said head coach Coquese Washington. "We wanted to get in their space. You have to get out on the three-point line and you have to defend. Our kids did a really good job of making sure they matched up and they guarded them. We were aggressive guarding them behind the three-point line."
The Lady Lions started the night off right with a three-pointer by Lucas to open up the game followed by successive shots from junior forward Mia Nickson and junior forward Nikki Greene to make the score 8-0. As the Badgers struggled throughout the night with their shooting, the Lady Lions were on a roll, pulling ahead 41-26 by the half.
The three-point shot was critical for both teams, and with previous experience playing Wisconsin, the Lady Lions knew they had to hold strong and guard the Badgers.
"Coach prepared us for that," said junior guard Alex Bentley. "She said they were shooting a lot better from the three recently. We just made sure we got out on the shooters and made them put it on the floor."
The Lady Lions did just that, holding Wisconsin at zero percent on three-pointers in the first half, while accumulating 33 percent of the shots for themselves.
Wisconsin tried to make a comeback after halftime, finding its rhythm and making shots from the outside to pull within eight points of the Lady Lions with 11:54 to go. With the Badgers on the run, Coach Washington pulled the girls aside, stressing the need for patience on the court.
"We were not very patient on offense," said Coach Washington. "So we talked about being patient on offense and being smarter; making the right reads and making the right pass. We were not doing a good job of pressuring them on the three-point line and they adjusted by going to the basket. We just talked about fixing those couple of things and I thought we were fine after that."
And the Lady Lions were fine after that, holding the Badgers to just 10 points before the end of the game and spreading shots among their own players. Sophomore forward Ariel Edwards demonstrated her offensive abilities, shooting 5-7 in the second half and tallying 11 points alongside Nickson who accumulated 12.
"[Ariel] was a huge lift on both ends of the floor," said Coach Washington. "I thought she did a really good job defensively in using her length, speed and quickness to be disruptive to Wisconsin. I think because she was getting after it defensively, that gave her the adrenaline to play and to be attacking and assertive on offense. That was a huge lift for us."
Closing out the game, Greene led the team with 10 rebounds, playing a critical role in shutting out the Badgers. Sophomore guard Maggie Lucas led the offense once again, with 16 points, followed closely behind by Bentley and Edwards who both had 14.
The defense proved to be the deciding factor in the game, holding Wisconsin to just 37 percent shooting from the field, while creating opportunities for the Lady Lions offense.
"I thought after they got it to eight we kind of made a point to get it in the post," said Lucas. "I think Mia [Nickson] made a quick bucket and Alex [Bentley] got a stop and a lay-up. I think the defense turned that around pretty quickly for us."