December 31, 2010

Lady Lions storm back to beat ranked Iowa, 68-59

With last night's win over the Hawkeyes, Penn State is now tied for first in the Big Ten, and is one of only three teams with 12 wins at this stage of the season.

(Photo: CDT)
Junior guard Zhaque Gray drained a three-pointer to complete a late run in the second half as the Penn State Lady Lions (12-3, 1-0) rallied from a seven-point deficit with 6:33 remaining to upset No. 14/13 Iowa (12-2, 0-1), 68-59, in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Penn State outscored the Hawkeyes, 20-4, in the final 6:30 to post their first win over a ranked team since defeating No. 20 Michigan State, 68-60, on Jan. 17, 2010. The Lady Lions claimed their first win in a Big Ten opener since the 2004-05 season.

Sophomore guard Alex Bentley led the Lady Lions' offensive charge with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including three three-pointers. She also dished out three assists and pulled in two rebounds. Gray was 6-for-12 from the field en route to 14 points to go along with five rebounds and a career high-tying five assists.

Senior guard/forward Julia Trogele also reached double figures with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Sophomore center Nikki Greene narrowly missed a double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and five steals.

Gray scored back-to-back baskets on a jumper and a fastbreak layup off of the feed from Lucas to tie the game at 46-46 with 11:05 on the clock. However, Printy knocked down an NBA-range three-pointer in transition to give the Hawkeyes the lead again with nine minutes left. On the ensuing possession, Greene made one of two free throws to slice the deficit with 49-47 with 8:39 remaining. After a few scoreless possessions, Kelly Krei drained a wide open three-pointer to push Iowa's lead to five points (52-47) with less than eight minutes to play.

After Nickson made one of two free throws, Krei nailed a second-straight three-pointer to extend the lead to 55-48 with 6:33 on the clock. A jumper by Bentley kicked off the Lady Lions' final push. Trogele took a nifty pass from Gray on the fast break for an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the deficit to 55-53 with 5:37 remaining. On the ensuing Iowa possession, Kamille Wahlin made of two free throws to stretch the lead back to three points, but the Lions responded with a layup by Bentley, followed by a three-point by Gray to take a 58-56 with 3:51 remaining.

The Lady Lions extended the lead seven points (65-58) with a jumper by Greene and five consecutive points by Gray. Penn State would seal the win by making three of four free throw attempts in the final 37 seconds.

Penn State head coach Coquese Washington...

Q: Coach, you said earlier this week that a coach is never satisfied, how do you feel now?
A: Well, I'll tell you what I'm happy about. I'm happy with our defensive effort. We held Iowa to 59 points and I think they were averaging about 73 points a game and that's something that we really stressed, we've got to be able to stop them, we've got to be able to hold them under their average. To have that kind of defensive effort, I'm pleased about that. I thought offensively we did some good things; Maggie (Lucas) just missed some shots that she normally makes. One thing we always talk about with our team is you can't rely on making shots. Sometimes they're just not going to fall for you. A couple games ago, Zha Zha (Gray) was 1-for-11 or something like that. You got to keep shooting. At one point I told Maggie, "I wouldn't trade you for anyone in the country, let it fly." I thought offensively we didn't necessarily shoot the ball great, like we had in the past. But we made the big shots when we needed them down the stretch. Zha Zha made some huge shots down the stretch, Alex (Bentley) made a really big drive to the basket, Nikki (Greene) hit a nice little jumper. So we made some big shots when we needed them.

Q: Do you think Alex's impact on the game was when she finally got back in after four fouls?
A: I think what Alex (Bentley) does is her drive and her will and her ability to get into the lane and her ability to get to the basket, get in the paint and make things happen. She's really good at finding the shooters and if you spread out, she can finish at the rim. She got a little bit of rest when she got the four fouls and she had to sit so she came back out and had a lot of energy to push the tempo and it looked like Iowa was getting a little tired down the stretch and she had a lot of energy.

Q: Rebounding numbers were really skewed at halftime, how much emphasis did you put on that?
A: We put a lot of emphasis on it. We told them we're down 14 boards and the game is tied and we're down 14. We had two offensive rebounds and one of them was a team rebound, so we had one offensive rebound in the first half and that was Julia Trogele. We talked about that; we can't win if we don't rebound. If we're going to be down 15, 20, we're not going to win the game. So we knew we had to get a better effort rebounding, especially on the defensive end. And I thought the energy going after the ball was a lot better in the second half.

Q: What was Nikki's impact?
A: She was humongous. That's what we want from her night in and night out, is to dominate the paint, to be big in there. The rebounds, the blocked shots, she was just an intimidating factor. And she altered quite a few shots too, down the stretch. When we can have that kind of presence it makes it easier to defend on the perimeter. We could play a little bit more man-to-man and guard them on the perimeter because Nikki (Greene) was doing a good job patrolling the paint.

Q: How do you feel about getting win number one in the conference?
A: I think this was an important win for us. They're the best team in the conference right now. To be able to start the season with a win on your home court against the best team in the conference, that's a big deal for us. You don't want to start conference play in the hole and have to dig your way out, especially in the Big Ten; it's just so competitive. And going on the road in our conference is really hard, so it was important for our confidence, it was very important for us to stay in the hunt for the Big Ten title. There's no mistak about it, that's what we want to get this year. You got to be able to win on your home floor, you got to be able to beat the best teams in the conference if you're going to do that. So, that was really important.
For more on the game, visit

Follow LBU on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to by Email


Post a Comment