February 7, 2011

Lady Lions bury Iowa, 82-75, storm into the Top 25

Alex Bentley (Photo: Live.PSU.edu)
Penn State is now ranked in the AP top 25, coming in at No. 23 in the poll released today. It is the first time since the Jan. 25, 2010 AP rankings that the Lady Lions are in the top 25. But unlike last season, in which Penn State collapsed late going 2-9 down the regular season stretch, the Lady Lions (20-5) are on the verge of their strongest season since the 2004 run to the Elite Eight.

Penn State 82, Iowa 75
Alex Bentley shot 11-for-17 from the field for a game-high 25 points, adding five assists and three rebounds. Maggie Lucas connected on four three-pointers and finished with 18 points and three rebounds. Lucas passes Corinne Gulas (411) and Suzie McConnell (415) to move into fourth place on Penn State's freshman season scoring list. Mia Nickson earned her fourth double-double of the season with 13 points, including six free throws in the final 45 seconds, and 15 rebounds with seven coming on the offensive glass. Julia Trogele accounted for seven points and nine rebounds for another all-around performance.
This was a must-win for the Lady Lions before Thursday night's home game against No. 11 Michigan State. Penn State was on fire from the field, a fact not unrecognized by the Hawkeyes' coach:

“Penn State is a good team,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “They showed why they’re No. 1 in our conference — they can just score at will. They’re very, very hard to defend because of their quickness and athleticism.”
Going into the game against the Spartans, who just crushed Purdue by 19, Penn State will need an effort not unlike this one. It definitely can't be any less unrelenting on offense, but probably needs to be a bit stronger on defense. Michigan State will surely score with a stronger offense than Iowa, so a better showing on defense Thursday night will at least ensure a similar end result. Though, giving up 75 points isn't a good way to win a big game. For this Lady Lions team, it's all about shooting hot early, dominating the boards, and limiting mistakes down the stretch. This week it was great free-throw shooting. What will it be Thursday? Let's hope whatever it is, there's a big fat "W" on the schedule.

Maggie Lucas
Maggie Lucas honored again

If Maggie Lucas isn't named Big Ten Freshman of the Year... well, it doesn't matter, because she will be.
Lucas averaged 20.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game in a pair of wins last week. In Thursday's win at Michigan, Lucas was 9-for-16 from the field, including 6-for-6 from inside the arc, en route to 23 points. She also pulled in four rebounds and notched a steal against the Wolverines. Lucas continued her strong play with 18 points, including four three-pointers, in the upset win at #20 Iowa Sunday. She also snatched three rebounds to go with an assist and a steal.
So to wrap this all up, Go to the game Thursday night!!! Attendance hasn't been good this year, considering the team is nearing a Big Ten championship and a really good seed in the NCAAs.

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