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FEATURE: Lady Lions Clinch Big Ten Title

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Feb. 21, 2012

By Jeff Sattora, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - All season long the Penn State Lady Lions and coaches have been saying one basic thing, "We're just taking it one game at a time." Eventually that "one game at a time" strategy will add up to something, and that something came into view Monday night.

The Lady Lions are regular-season Big Ten champions.

Coming into the contest with a half-game lead over their opponent, second place Ohio State, a win would clinch the top seed in the Big Ten tournament and at least a share of the regular-season title (while also owning the tie-breaker).

A win is exactly what the team got as the Lady Lions dominated all game long to walk away with an 84-66 win in the Bryce Jordan Center.

This is the program's first regular-season title since 2004, and the first under head coach Coquese Washington.

"There are no words. It's amazing. It's just amazing," said forward Mia Nickson. "We worked so hard to get here and I couldn't see it with anyone else around me. My team is amazing. I'm so glad I was able to come here to get the opportunity."

"All of these kids come from all over the country - California, Texas, Atlanta, Chicago - and we said `Hey, come to central Pennsylvania and let's win a Big Ten title,' For them to have that kind of faith and to come here and have that experience it really means a lot," added Washington.

This group from all over the country put on a show in central Pennsylvania against the Buckeyes from the tip, and never looked back.

The inside duo of Nikki Greene and Mia Nickson was a combo that could not be stopped, combining for 43 points and 30 rebounds. A total of two less rebounds than the entire Ohio State team.

"It (the rebounding) is incredible and that was one of the things we talked about going into this game," said Washington. "Our post really stepped up."



"We just executed the game plan. Whatever coach said in practice, we just kind of took it to heart," said Greene. "We knew that this game was one of the big ones, so we tried to take advantage of every minute possible."

Taking advantage was a key statement for the Lady Lions as that's exactly what they did, especially on the boards.

Not only did the squad outrebound Ohio State 60-32, there was also a 29-0 Penn State advantage on second-chance points.

As big as the rebounding edge and second-chance points edge both were, they were not the only things that head coach Coquese Washington was happy about post-game.

"I thought we did a pretty good job on our team defense," she said. "I thought we were aggressive. I thought for most of the game we tried to make them take tough shots."

That defense forced the Buckeyes into tough shots all night long as they never seemed to be able to get into an offensive rhythm.

As the Lion defense clamped down early to build a 15-point halftime lead, the offense and rebounding continued to stay strong as Ohio State was never able to make a run.

As exciting as the game was Monday night the team still has work to do. The Lady Lions will have one more home game Sunday against Minnesota before heading on to the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.


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