Lady Lions to Host North Carolina in 2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge
May 19, 2011
The Penn State Lady Lions will welcome perennial contender North Carolina to the Bryce Jordan Center for the Fifth Annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday, Nov. 30, it was announced by the Big Ten and ACC. The Lady Lions are 2-2 all-time against the Tarheels, including a 2-1 mark in home games. The teams last met on Dec. 5, 2004 when Penn State upset the second-ranked Tarheels, 77-71, behind 21 points from Tanisha Wright.
The Lady Lions are 1-3 in Big Ten/ACC Challenge games, including a victory over Duke in the inaugural Challenge and a tough overtime loss at Boston College last year. Game times, as well as television and broadband coverage, will be announced at a later date.
Penn State returned to the national stage last season with a 25-10 overall record and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003-04. The Lady Lions return 10 letterwinners and four starters on a team that finished second in the Big Ten in the regular season with an 11-5 mark and second in the Big Ten Tournament.
Leading the way for the Lady Lions are junior guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) and sophomore guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.). Bentley became the 11th different Lady Lion to take home first team All-Big Ten honors after a solid sophomore campaign. She finished in the Top 15 in the Big Ten in scoring (12th/14.4), assists (2nd/5.0), field goal percentage (14th/.446), free throw percentage (11th/.798) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4th/1.7). Lucas was selected as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Sixth Player of the Year. She etched her name into the Penn State and Big Ten record books in her outstanding rookie campaign as she broke the Big Ten and Penn State single-season record for three-pointers (112). Additionally, Lucas broke Kelly Mazzante's Penn State freshman season scoring record with 552 tallies.
The Lady Lions also return starters Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas), Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) and Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.). Greene became one of the top shot-blocking forces in the conference en route to Big Ten All-Defensive Team honors. She tallied a career-best 75 rejections, which is sixth on the Penn State single-season list, and became the seventh player in school history with 100 blocks earlier this year. The All-Big Ten honorable mention choice also accounted for 7.8 rebounds per game to rank sixth in the Big Ten. Nickson tallied 10.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 27 starts for the Lions. She was ninth in the Big Ten in rebounding and 14th in free throw percentage (.795). Gray made a marked improvement between her sophomore and junior years as she improved on her three-point shooting by 11% (.303 to .414) and her field goal shooting by 8.5% (.338 to .423). With a 9.5 scoring average, the Chicago native also nearly doubled her scoring output to finish fourth on the team.
This year's challenge games will be contested in a two-day format, beginning Wednesday, Nov. 30. Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin will host games on the challenge's first day, while Michigan and Nebraska will be on the road. On Dec. 1, Illinois Indiana, Minnesota and Purdue will travel to ACC sites, while Michigan State hosts Miami.
Last season, Big Ten teams combined for a 5-6 mark against its ACC counterparts, marking the closest challenge margin in the event's four-year history. Since the 1999-2000 season, the two conferences have squared off in head-to-head competition on 115 occasions with the ACC holding a 64-51 advantage. Last season, the Big Ten boasted a 9-7 record over ACC teams.
The ACC and the Big Ten conference offices determine the schedule each season, and matchups may repeat from year to year in efforts to coordinate similar opponents and reach competitive equity. In addition, the official title of the Challenge will rotate each year. The 2011 event will be referred to as the Big Ten/ACC Women's Basketball Challenge and will continue to mirror the official title of the two conferences' Challenge agreement for men's basketball.
The Lady Lions hold several camps throughout the summer. There is a Lady Lion Basketball Camp available for girls of all ages, ranging from shooting camp to elite camp. The 2011 Lady Lion Basketball Camp schedule is as follows: Shooting Camp (June 12-14), Skills Camp (June 12-14), Total Package Team Camp (June 23-25), Elite Camp (June 25-26) and Games Galore Team Camp (August 5-7). For more information on Lady Lion Basketball Camps, please visit psusportcamps.com and click on Lady Lion Basketball Camp.
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.
2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge Schedule
Wednesday, November 30
Thursday, December 1