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March 1, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The No. 9/12 Penn State Lady Lions (23-5, 13-3) enter the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis as the top seed for the first time since the 2004 season and will begin their quest for their first Big Ten Tournament title since winning the first two tourneys in 1995 and 1996. Penn State opens the Big Ten Tournament on Friday at 6 p.m. against No. 8 Minnesota, which will take place on Thursday at 6 p.m. The quarterfinal contest will air on the Big Ten Network with Tom Hart, Stephanie White and Lisa Byington on the call.
TELEVISION: The quarterfinals and semifinals will air on the Big Ten Network with Tom Hart, Stephanie White and Lisa Byington on the call. The Championship game will air on ESPN with Dave O'Brien and Stephanie White describing play.
RADIO/LIVE STATS: The game is on the Penn State Sports Network and on ESPN 1450 locally with Jerry Fisher and Brian Tripp calling the action. The audio feed and live stats are available at www.GoPSUsports.com.
SCOUTING MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers are 14-16 overall and 6-10 in Big Ten play, including wins over Michigan State, Ohio State and Nebraska. Rachel Banham continues to have a solid freshman campaign, leading the team in scoring (16.1) and being second in rebounding (5.3). Kiara Buford chips in 13.3 points with 3.1 assists per outing, while Katie Loberg tallies 9.1 points and a team-best 6.3 rebounds per game.
ALL-TIME VS. THE GOPHERS: The Lady Lions are 24-11 all-time against Minnesota and have won the last four meetings between the teams, including a series sweep this year. This will be the second time in the last three years that the Lions and Gophers have squared off in the Big Ten Tournament. PSU picked up a 63-52 win in the 2010 tourney.
LAST TIME VS. MINN: With 13,849 fans, including a record 505 survivors, filling the Bryce Jordan Center, the Lady Lions defeated Minnesota, 74-51, Sunday afternoon in the Sixth Annual WBCA Pink Zone game. Sophomore Maggie Lucas led the Lady Lions with 24 points, a career-high eight assists and a pair of steals. Lucas reached the 20-point plateau for the 15th time this season. Senior Zhaque Gray closed out her time in the BJC with an impressive afternoon that featured 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting and three rebounds. Junior Nikki Greene posted 12 points via a 6-for-7 day from the floor and four rebounds, while junior Mia Nickson led the Lady Lions with eight rebounds to go with seven points.
SCOUTING WISCONSIN: The Badgers are 9-19 overall and 5-11 in Big Ten play. Taylor Wurtz paces Wisconsin, leading the team in scoring (16.3) and rebounding (7.6). Anya Covington is second on the squad in scoring (10.3) and rebounding (6.6), while Morgan Paige also averages double figures at a 10.0 per game clip.
ALL-TIME VS. THE BADGERS: The Lady Lions are 27-10 all-time against Wisconsin, including a season sweep of the Badgers this year. The teams have only met twice in the Big Ten Tournament (2002 and 2006) with the Lady Lions claiming wins in both encounters.
LAST TIME VS. UW: The Lady Lions landed four players in double figures on the way to a 69-54 win over Wisconsin Feb. 9 at the BJC. Sophomore Maggie Lucas led the Lady Lions with 16 points via a 7-for-11 shooting performance. Junior Alex Bentley had 14 points to go along with three assists, while sophomore Ariel Edwards was a spark off of the bench with 14 points thanks to a 6-for-10 night from the field. Redshirt junior Mia Nickson rounded out Penn State's top scorers with 11 tallies to go with seven rebounds and three assists.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONS: The Lady Lions clinched the Big Ten regular-season title outright for the first time since 2004 with a 74-51 win over Minnesota Feb. 26. It is the sixth overall regular-season crown for the Lady Lions and fourth outright (2000, 2003, 2004). Penn State will serve as the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2004 and the fifth time in program history (1995, 2000, 2003, 2004).
BIG TEN WINS: The Lady Lions picked up with 13th Big Ten win of the season against the Gophers. The 13 conference victories are the most by a Penn State team since the 2004-05 squad went 13-3 in conference play.
WASHINGTON NAMED COACH OF THE YEAR: After leading the Lady Lions to their first Big Ten regular-season title since 2004, Coquese Washington was selected as the Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the coaches and the media. Washington joins four-time winner Rene Portland (1994, 2000, 2003, 2004) on the list of Penn State mentors to win top conference coaching honors. The Lady Lions started conference play 1-2, but rallied to win 12 of their next 13 games to claim the crown. Penn State's 13 Big Ten wins are the most since the 2004-05 campaign and PSU's 10 road wins this year are the most for the Lady Lions since 1993-94.
DUO NAMED TO FIRST TEAM: Junior guard Alex Bentley and sophomore guard Maggie Lucas were both named to the All-Big Ten first team after stellar seasons. A first team choice last season, Bentley becomes the ninth different Lady Lion to earn first team accolades twice, while Lucas is the 12th different Penn State player to earn top all-conference honors. The Lady Lions have 26 All-Big Ten first team selections, the most of any team in the Big Ten since joining the conference in 1992-93. Bentley was also named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team.
MORE BIG TEN HONORS: Junior center Nikki Greene earned third team All-Big Ten honors from the media and an honorable mention nod from the coaches. It is the second time that Greene has earned All-Big Ten honors after an honorable mention appearance a year ago. Additionally, senior guard Zhaque Gray and junior forward Mia Nickson were named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten. It is the first all-conference honors for the pair.
BIG TEN STATS TITLES: The Lady Lions corralled several Big Ten stats titles during conference play. Junior guard Alex Bentley paced Big Ten action with 49 steals in 16 games. She is the first Lady Lion to lead the league in steals since Jess Strom did it in back-to-back years in 2003-04 and 2004-05. The Lady Lions led all teams in scoring (74.8 ppg) for the first time since the 2002-03 squad averaged 74.6 points in 16 conference games. Penn State also won the Big Ten title for rebounding margin (+6.1) for the first time since 1998-99 (+5.1)
STREAKING: The Lady Lions have won their last seven games, dating back to Feb. 2. It is the longest win streak for a Penn State squad since the 2003-04 team won seven games from Feb. 15 - March 7, 2004. The Lions also finished February with a perfect 7-0 record. It is Penn State's first undefeated month since 2003-04 when that squad was 9-0 in January.
WINS UNDER WASHINGTON: The Lady Lions have increased their Big Ten win total in each of Coquese Washington's five seasons in Happy Valley. Penn State won four games in Washington's first year and improved to six wins in 2008-09. In Washington's third year, PSU had eight wins before collecting 11 victories a year ago and 13 win this season.
4TH LARGEST CROWD: The Lady Lions packed the Bryce Jordan Center for the Sixth Annual WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State with 13,849 fans, including a record 505 survivors, in attendance. The crowd is the fourth-largest in school history, trailing the two sellouts in 2004 and one near-sellout on Senior Day in 2005.
BENTLEY NABS 200TH STEAL: With three steals in the win over Minnesota Feb. 26, junior guard Alex Bentley became the 13th player in school history to record 200 steals. She is currently 13th on Penn State's career steals chart with an even 200 career thefts. Bentley needs 15 steals to tie Sue Martin (215; 1976-80) for 12th place.
PSU 9TH IN AP POLL: The Lady Lions moved up two spots in this week's Associated Press Top 25, after wins over Ohio State and Minnesota. Penn State is ninth in the Feb. 27 Associated Press poll, its highest ranking of the season. It is the Lady Lions' highest ranking in the AP poll since they were fifth in the final 2004 poll. Additionally, Penn State made its first appearance in the preseason AP poll since the 2003-04 campaign.
LIONS RANKED 12TH IN COACHES POLL: The Lady Lions moved up three positions to the 12th spot in the Feb. 28 ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. The ranking equals the highest for Penn State this season in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. It's Penn State's highest ranking since the Lady Lions were seventh in the final 2004 poll. Additionally, Penn State appeared in the preseason coaches' poll since starting the 2003-04 campaign eighth.
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