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April 4, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The Penn State Lady Lions capped a fantastic 2011-12 season by finishing ninth in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. It is the highest final ranking for the Lady Lions since the 2003-04 squad was sixth in the last coaches' poll. Additionally, finished the year 11th in the last Associated Press poll, which was following the end of the regular-season. The AP mark was also the highest finish for the Lady Lions since the 2003-04 campaign (5th).
Led by junior Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) and sophomore Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.), the Lady Lions returned to the national stage with their first Big Ten regular-season title and NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen bid since 2003-04. Penn State, which compiled a 26-7 overall record and 13-3 mark in conference play, was ranked throughout the season in the AP poll and for all but one week in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
Penn State led the Big Ten and was eighth nationally in scoring offense with a 75.7 scoring average. The Lady Lions also led the league and was in the Top 20 nationally in scoring margin (+13.2; 17th), three-point field goal percentage (.362; 12th NCAA) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.260; 16th NCAA).
Bentley took home first team All-Big Ten accolades for the second year in a row and was named honorable mention WBCA All-America after averaging 14.1 points, 4.7 assists and 3.0 steals per game this season. She finished 46th in NCAA Division I in assists and 21st in steals. Lucas paced the Lady Lions, was third in the Big Ten and 20th nationally in scoring at a 19.5 per game clip en route to a berth on the All-Big Ten first team. The honorable mention AP All-American was also 12th in Division I in free throw percentage (.886) and eighth in three-point field goal percentage (.410).
Additionally, the Lady Lions had junior Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas), senior Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) and junior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) garner postseason honors. Greene accounted for 9.8 points and 7.8 rebounds en route to third team All-Big Ten recognition, while Gray was an honorable mention all-conference honoree after chipping in 10.6 points per outing. Despite missing nine games due to injuries, Nickson claimed honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades after accounting for 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds this season. Nickson was also named to the NCAA Tournament's All-Region team for Kingston.
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.