January 24, 2011

Lady Lions' split of the Hoosier State won't help break into the polls

Nikki Greene (Photo: PSU)
It was an up-down end of the week for Penn State, but it's always better to finish strong. That's just what the Lady Lions did against Indiana in the BJC on Sunday, pulling away from the Hoosiers for an 82-69 win. The W came after a rather deflating performance in West Lafayette on Thursday, as the Boilermakers downed PSU 79-69.

Before this weekend, I started hearing grumbles--fully justified, I might add--about Penn State's lack of recognition in the major polls. Coming into the Purdue game, Penn State had a nice 31 spot in the RPI, with the 65th toughest schedule in women's hoops. That included a victory over a Texas Tech team that started the season 16-1 before dropping the past two to No. 13 Oklahoma and No. 2 Baylor.

Of course, losing to a mediocre Purdue team by 10 doesn't exactly do much to get you into the polls. The Boilermakers are a traditional power in the Big Ten, but now sitting at 13-7 with a loss Sunday to Michigan, there was really no excuse for Penn State to drop the game to Purdue. It's that kind of loss that prevents a team like Penn State from breaking away from the conference pack--something that was totally doable this week.

Penn State is now eligible for the Tournament, but with another bad loss like the one at Purdue, the Lady Lions can kiss goodbye what should be a locked up spot in the NCAAs.


Purdue 79, Penn State 69:
Sophomore guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) paced four Lady Lions in double figures with 14 points.

Bentley also added five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Freshman guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) was 4-for-6 from the field en route to 13 points and a pair of steals, while senior guard/forward Julia Trogele (Devon, Pa.) accounted for 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Junior guard Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) chipped in 12 points and sophomore center Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) accounted for eight points, a game-best 11 rebounds and two blocks. Greene becomes just the seventh player in school history to surpass the 100-block mark for her career.
Penn State 82, Indiana 69:
The Lady Lions had a Jordan Center record 61 rebounds, while the Hoosiers had 36 boards. Sophomores Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) and Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) combined to outrebound the Hoosiers with 17 and 20 caroms, respectively.

Nickson posted her third career double-double with 25 points and a personal-best 17 rebounds, including 14 offensive boards. The sophomore tied her career high with six steals against the Hoosiers. Sophomore Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) added 15 points, four rebounds and five assists in the win, while freshman guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) had 16 points and four rebounds.

Greene's 20 boards are the most by a Penn State player since Vicki Link pulled in 20 boards against Rutgers on Feb. 16, 1987. She ties Michigan State's Kristen Rasmussen (12/30/97) for the Bryce Jordan Center rebounding record. Greene also blocked five shots and tallies six points in the win. The Lady Lions pulled in 33 offensive rebounds, but only managed 19 second-chance points.
The Lady Lions travel to Champaign to face Illinois on Thurs., Jan. 27 before returning to home to face Ohio State on Sunday, Jan. 30 at 2 p.m.

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