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Oct. 27, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The Penn State Lady Lions are ranked eighth in the Associated Press preseason poll, which was released on Saturday. The ranking is the highest preseason ranking in the poll for Penn State since starting seventh during the 2003-04 season. Last year, the Lady Lions started the season at No. 12 and peaked to ninth in the AP poll.
The Lady Lions are the highest of the four Big Ten teams ranked in the preseason Top 25, joining Nebraska (18), Ohio State (19) and Purdue (21). Penn State will face six teams in the preseason Top 25. In addition to playing the Cornhuskers, Buckeyes and Boilermakers, the Lady Lions will also face Connecticut (2), Texas A&M (15) and Miami (24).
After claiming it sixth Big Ten regular-season title and making the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2004, Penn State was selected to finish first in the Big Ten in a vote of coaches and media. In addition, senior point guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) was selected as the coaches' preseason Co-Player of the Year and preseason All-Big Ten first team by the media. Junior guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) was also selected to the All-Big Ten preseason first team by both the coaches and the media. Bentley and Lucas are additionally among 25 players on the Wade Watch List for the State Farm Wade Trophy.
Bentley became just the ninth player in school history to be selected to an All-Big Ten first team multiples times as she was picked for the second time in her career last year. 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). The captain enters her senior campaign ranked 10th on Penn State's career assists list (455), 15th in scoring (1,335) and 12th in steals (216). She is one of 34 Lady Lions to net 1,000 points for her career.
Lucas earned her first career All-Big Ten first team accolades after finishing third in the conference and 20th in NCAA Division I in scoring (19.5). The Narberth, Pa. native is in the top three on Penn State's career three-pointers list, top five on PSU's single-season three-pointers chart, top 25 on PSU's career scoring list, top five on PSU's season scoring list and second on sophomore season scoring chart. Entering her junior year, Lucas sits atop the Penn State career free throw percentage list (.881).
Also returning for the Lady Lions are their top rebounders, seniors Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) and Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.). In addition, Penn State also welcomes two newcomers in Maryland transfer and redshirt junior Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) and incoming freshman Candice Agee (Victorville, Calif.).
Greene tallied 9.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 2011-12, earning her third team All-Big Ten accolades. The Diboll, Texas native led the team and was fourth in the Big Ten in rebounding during the 2011-12 campaign. She moved into fifth place on Penn State's career blocks list with 176 rejections after tallying 46 last season. Greene is one of 27 members of Penn State's 500-rebound club.
Nickson, a senior captain, returns as she averaged 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in just 24 games while battling an injury, earning her All-Big Ten honorable mention status. 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. She now has 10 career double-doubles as she tallied four last season.
Taylor, who had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules after coming from Maryland, broke the school's freshman season assists record while she was with the Terps, contributing 171 dimes in 2009-10. She additionally averaged 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest during her rookie campaign at Maryland. Taylor attended the Carvel Academy and was named the Delaware Gatorade High School Player of the Year during her senior season.
The 34th-ranked player by ESPN/HoopGurlz out of high school, Agee averaged 15.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.4 steals per game as a senior at Silverado High School. She additionally won a gold medal this summer 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.
The Lady Lions open their 2012 season with an exhibition game against former Penn State standout Jess Strom and the California (Pa.) Vulcans on Sat., Nov. 3. Penn State's regular-season opener is slated on Sun., Nov. 11 against Howard at the Bryce Jordan Center, where the Lady Lions will raise their 2012 Big Ten Championship banner.
Single game tickets for the Lady Lions go on sale Monday, Oct. 29. Tickets are $15 and $12 for adults and seniors and $9 and $7 for youth (12 and younger). Lady Lion Basketball season tickets are still available by calling 1-800-NITTANY. Season tickets are $99 for adults 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.