Lady Lions to Travel to Miami for 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge
May 22, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The Penn State Lady Lions will visit 2012 ACC regular-season runner-up Miami in the Sixth Annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Thursday, Nov. 29, it was announced by the Big Ten and ACC. The Lady Lions and Hurricanes have never squared off on the hardwood.
The Lady Lions are 2-3 in Big Ten/ACC Challenge games, including a victory over Duke in the inaugural Challenge and a record-setting 103-84 win over nationally-ranked North Carolina last year. Game times, as well as television and broadband coverage, will be announced at a later date.
Penn State continued its rise by collecting its first Big Ten regular-season championship and NCAA Sweet Sixteen bid since the 2003-04 campaign with a 26-7 overall record and a 13-3 mark in conference play. The Lady Lions were ranked throughout the season in the Associated Press poll and for all but one week in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. Penn State finished 11th in the AP poll and ninth in the coaches' poll, the highest rankings for the program since the 2003-04 season. The expectations will be high entering 2012-13 as the Lady Lions return nine letterwinners and four starters from that Big Ten Championship team.
Leading the way for the Lady Lions is the All-American backcourt tandem of senior Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) and junior Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.). Bentley garnered first team All-Big Ten honors for the second-straight season and also took home honorable mention WBCA All-America accolades. She was second in the Big Ten and in the Top 20 nationally in steals, averaging 3.0 per game. The Big Ten All-Defensive team choice led Big Ten action with 49 steals in 16 games, becoming 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. Additionally, Bentley was 11th in the conference in scoring (14.1), fourth in assists (4.7) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4). Lucas earned first team All-Big Ten and honorable mention Associated Press All-America honors after finishing third in the conference in scoring at a 19.5 per game clip and was just the fourth different Lady Lion to score more than 600 points in a season with 642 tallies on the year. Lucas was also Top 10 in the league in free throw percentage (.886 - 3rd), three-point field goal percentage (.410 - 3rd) and three-pointers made (2.5 - 2nd). The Narberth, Pa. native is just the third sophomore in school history to reach 1,000 points.
The Lady Lions also return starters Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) and Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.). Greene garnered All-Big Ten third team accolades after accounting for 9.8 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds. Greene ranked in the Top 10 in the Big Ten in rebounding (4th), field goal percentage (7th- .472) and blocked shots (5th - 1.4). Her 176 career blocks are fifth in school history. Nickson fought through a series of injuries to claim All-Big Ten honorable mention honors as she averaged 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Additionally, she was named to the NCAA Tournament Kingston All-Region team after tallying 19 points, five rebounds and two steal against eventual National Semifinalist Connecticut. In Big Ten play, Nickson was eighth in rebounding (7.5) and 10th in field goal percentage (.455).
Challenge games will be contested in a two-day format, beginning Wednesday, Nov. 28. Michigan, Nebraska, Purdue and Indiana will host games on the first day, while Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin will be on the road. On Nov. 29, Illinois and Minnesota will host ACC foes, while Michigan State and Penn State visit their inter-conference opponents.
A year ago, the Big Ten and ACC battled to a 6-6 draw, the first tie in the Challenge's history, while the Big Ten boasted a 9-7 record over ACC teams in all games played.
The ACC and Big Ten conference offices determine the schedule each season. In addition, the official title of the Challenge will rotate each year. The 2012 event will be referred to as the ACC/Big Ten Women's Basketball Challenge and will continue to mirror the official title of the two conferences' Challenge agreement for men's basketball.
The ACC and the Big Ten have long been among the most dominant conferences on the women's basketball scene. For the first time in league history, the Big Ten had seven conference teams selected to the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship in 2012. Historically, the Big Ten has sent at least one team to the NCAA's Sweet 16 in 26 of the last 28 years and has sent eight teams to the Final Four.
Last season, the ACC was represented by seven overall postseason squads, including four teams in the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship that were tabbed as top-four seeds. Overall, the ACC has made 14 Final Four appearances. 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 2012 Lady Lion Basketball Camp schedule is as follows: Shooting Camp (June 10-12), Skills Camp (June 10-12), Elite Camp (June 23-24), Total Package Team Camp (June 21-23) and Games Galore Team Camp (August 3-5). 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.
2012 Big Ten/ACC Challenge Schedule
Wednesday, November 28
Thursday, November 29