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March 27, 2013

Lady Lions' season ends in disappointment

* Courtesy of Penn State Sports Information

BATON ROUGE, LA. - The No. 3 seed Penn State Lady Lions (26-6, 14-2 Big Ten) led LSU (22-11, 10-6 SEC) by one with 54 seconds to go, but Bianca Lutley hit a jumper with 40 seconds to left to give the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish as LSU posted a 71-66 win over Penn State in the NCAA Tournament Second Round Tuesday.

In the final game of her stellar Lady Lion career, senior Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) led the way for the Lady Lions with 16 points and 16 rebounds for her 14th career double-double. She finished her Penn State career with 1,132 points and 994 rebounds, falling just shy of becoming the fourth Lady Lion with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Senior Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) scored all 14 of her points in the first half and added four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Junior Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) was a spark off of the bench with 13 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 54 seconds left. She was 6-for-10 on the night.

The Tigers jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, but Bentley responded immediately with a three-pointer on the baseline and an elbow jumper to knot it up at five. Senior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) followed with a putback to cap off a 7-0 run and give the Lions a 7-5 lead. Danielle Ballard came back with a jumper, but Bentley notched her seventh point in the first four-plus minutes to give the Lady Lions a 9-7 lead at the 15:48 mark. LSU's Adrienne Webb went on to score the next seven out of eight points for the Tigers, while Edwards mixed in three with a field goal and free throw for the Lady Lions, resulting in a 15-12 lead for LSU with 12 minutes to go in the first stanza.

The Lady Tigers added another quick four points to up their run to 7-0, but Greene answered with her first points. Following an exchange of scores and LSU leading 24-16, Bentley answered with a big three and Lucas hit two free throws to cut the Lady Tiger lead to three. A Lutely layup at the 7:51 mark extended LSU's lead to five.

Back and forth play continued. Bentley hit a jumper near the top of the key with 5:10 to go, cutting LSU's lead to 29-27. Shanece McKinney answered with a field goal, but from there the Lady Lions would build a run. Junior Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) started things off with a layup, followed by a Greene layup to tie the contest up at 31. Bentley then recorded a steal and took it in for two. An up and under layup by Taylor gave Penn State a four-point advantage with 3:29 to go. Following a Theresa Plaisance layup, junior Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) tallied her first three of the game on a fake pass and jump shot, followed by a nice transition baseline jumper from senior Gizelle Studevent (La Jolla, Calif.). Lucas sank two free throws and Webb got two on the other end, which ended the half and resulting in a 13-4 run for the Lady Lions to close out the stanza with a 42-35 lead.

Just as the Lady Lions closed the half hot, the Lady Tigers returned the favor in the very beginning of the second half, stringing together a 10-0 run to retake the lead, 45-42. Edwards snapped the scoreless drought with a drive to the basket at the 15:35 mark, Penn State's first field goal of the half. Following another two from LSU on the other end, Edwards scored an additional four to put Penn State back in front, 48-47 with 14:46 remaining. The Lady Tigers went on to score four straight to take a three-point lead. Exchanges of baskets gave LSU a 55-52 advantage with 12:20 to go.

Penn State got some momentum going though, thanks to Greene who scored four-straight points to help Penn State retake a 56-55 lead at the 9:50 mark. A layup by Taylor and a jumper by Greene increased Penn State's lead to five, capping off an 8-0 run for the Lady Lions. However, following exchanges of baskets, LSU used a 5-0 run to take a three point lead with 2:06 to go.

Edwards had an aggressive drive to the basket with 1:39 remaining to cut it to one. After an empty possession for the Lady Tigers, Edwards returned with a jumper to put Penn State back up in front with 54 seconds remaining. Luteley answered with 40 seconds with a jumper in the paint to put LSU up by one, which would end up being the game-winning score. A missed jumper by Bentley and rebound for LSU resulted in two free throws and a three-point lead for the Lady Tigers. Penn State had a chance to tie it on the other end, but a missed Bentley three would seal it. LSU went on to make two more free throws, resulting in a 71-66 victory for the Lady Tigers.

GAME NOTES: Penn State falls to 30-24 all-time in the NCAA Tournament ... Penn State falls to 4-3 all-time versus the Lady Tigers ... With the start tonight, Nikki Greene breaks Kelly Mazzante's program record for most career starts with 131 and extends her consecutive starts record to 131 as she started every game of her collegiate career ... Greene finishes her career 30th in program history in points (1,132), second in blocks (215) and fourth in rebounds (994) ... Greene's 271 rebounds this season ranks 15th in program history ... Greene also recorded her 14th double-double of her career with 16 points and 16 rebounds ... She finishes six rebounds shy of becoming the fourth player in school history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds ... Alex Bentley caps off her Lady Lion career eighth in school history in points (1,786), sixth in field goals made (725), tied for sixth in assists with Dana Eikenberg (567) and second in steals (325) ... Bentley's 109 steals this season ranks seventh in school history ... Mia Nickson ends her Lady Lion career with 632 rebounds, which is 20th in program history ... Nickson also ends her career with 15 double-doubles ... Maggie Lucas' 649 points this year passes her mark of 642 in 2011-12 for fifth place in program history ... With a three-pointer tonight, Lucas is tied for third with Kelly Mazzante's 2002-03 mark with 98 three-pointers on the season ... Lucas ends her junior campaign seventh in school history in scoring with 1,848 points ... Dara Taylor recorded her 100th career rebound in a Penn State uniform.

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.


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