Defending Champion Lady Lions Picked to Claim Big Ten Title
Oct. 25, 2012
PARK RIDGE, ILL. - With nine returning letterwinners from a team that claimed its sixth Big Ten regular-season title and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2004, the Penn State Lady Lions were selected to finish first in the Big Ten Conference in a vote of the league's coaches and media. Additionally, Penn State senior point guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) was selected as the coaches' preseason Co-Player of the Year and to the preseason All-Big Ten first team by the media, while junior shooting guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) was named to the All-Big Ten first team by both the coaches and media.
Bentley, who is on the Wade Watch List for the WBCA National Player of the Year award, is coming off a season that saw her take home WBCA All-America honorable mention accolades, as well as her second-straight first team All-Big Ten honor. She finished in the Top 15 in the Big Ten in scoring (11th/14.1), assists (4th/4.7), steals (2nd/3.0) and assist-to-turnover ratio (7th/1.4). Bentley enters her senior campaign ranked 10th on Penn State's career assists list (455), 15th in scoring (1,335) and 12th in steals (216).
Lucas was an Associated Press honorable mention All-America choice a year ago and earned her first career All-Big Ten first team accolades after finishing third in the Big Ten and 20th in NCAA Division I in scoring with a 19.5 average. Her 642 points as a sophomore are the fifth-most in school history. Lucas, who had 18 20-point games, including a pair of 30-point outings, also paced the Big Ten and was 12th in the NCAA in free throw percentage (.886) a year ago. The Narberth, Pa. native is just the third sophomore in school history to tally 1,000 points and is the 11th-fastest player in Big Ten history to accomplish the feat.
The Lady Lions also return All-Big Ten starters Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) and Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) for their senior years. In addition, Penn State touts three McDonald's High School All-Americans on its roster in Lucas, redshirt junior Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) and freshman Candice Agee (Victorville, Calif.).
Greene was a third team All-Big Ten choice by the media a year ago after averaging 9.8 points and 7.8 rebounds. She also blocked 46 shots last season to move into fifth place on Penn State's career blocks list with 176 rejections. Greene also became the 27th member of Penn State's 500-rebound club in 2011-12. She enters her final season in the blue & white with 723 career rebounds, which places her 12th on the school's career list.
Battling through injury, Nickson claimed honorable mention All-Big Ten status as she averaged 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in just 24 games. She was named to the NCAA Tournament Kingston All-Region team after going 8-for-12 from the field en route to 19 points in the Sweet Sixteen loss to Connecticut. Nickson notched four double-doubles last season to bring her career total to 10.
Taylor had to sit out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules after transferring from Maryland. In her freshman season with the Terps, she broke the Maryland freshman season assists record with 171 and contributed 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. As a high school senior, Taylor was selected as the Delaware Gatorade High School Player of the Year out of Caravel Academy.
Agee was the 34th-ranked player by ESPN/HoopGurlz out of high school as she averaged 15.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.4 steals per game as a senior at Silverado High School. This summer, Agee claimed a gold medal playing for the USA Basketball U18 National Team in the FIBA Americas Championship. She averaged 5.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in five games for the red, white and blue.
Lady Lion Basketball season tickets are available by calling 800-NITTANY. Season tickets are $99 for adults, including a season parking pass (a $75 value), and $50 for youth (12 and under), this includes a Nittany Lion Kids Club Membership for 2012-13. The PNC Flex Books are available again this year for $99. The Flex Book gives fans 12 vouchers, 10 that can be redeemed in any combination for Nittany Lion and Lady Lion Basketball tickets throughout the year and two extra vouchers for the Nittany Lions' Coaches vs. Cancer game and the Lady Lions' Pink Zone game.
The 2013 Pink Zone at Penn State will take place on Sunday, Feb. 24 as the Lady Lions take on Michigan in the Bryce Jordan Center. Last year, the Lady Lions donated a record $203,000 to breast cancer causes. This year's fundraising efforts will benefit the Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Lewistown Hospital. For more information on the Pink Zone at Penn State, visit the official Pink Zone website at www.pennsylvaniapinkzone.org.
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 Preseason All-Big Ten Teams and Preseason Polls
Preseason Coaches' Poll
Preseason Coaches Team
Coaches' Preseason Players of the Year
Preseason Media Poll
Media's Preseason Player of the Year