* Courtesy of Penn State Sports Information
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 14,173 fans, including a record 621 breast cancer survivors, filling the Bryce Jordan Center, the No. 7/9-ranked Penn State Lady Lions (23-3, 13-1 Big Ten) clinched a share of their second-straight and seventh overall Big Ten regular season title with a 68-57 victory over the Michigan Wolverines (19-8, 8-6) on Sunday afternoon. The 14,173 fans in attendance account for the fourth-largest crowd in school history and the largest to witness a Pink Zone at Penn State game. The preliminary fundraising total for this year's Pink Zone is $182,824.44, which does not include donations from single-game ticket sales, t-shirt sales or the CharityBuzz.com online auction.
The Lady Lions sported four players in double-figures with junior Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) leading the way with 21 points to go along with five rebounds, two assists and three steals. Senior Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) accounted for 11 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds, while fellow senior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) added 11 tallies and eight rebounds. With her performance, Bentley moved into third place on PSU's career steals chart.
Junior Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) rounded out the double figure scorers with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Senior Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) added eight points and nine rebounds in the win. Seniors Gizelle Studevent (La Jolla, Calif.) and Marisa Wolfe (Ford City, Pa.) joined Greene, Nickson and Bentley in the starting lineup on senior day.
The Lady Lions jumped out to a 5-4 lead 3:20 into the game. From there, Penn State put together an 18-0 run in 7:15 to take a 23-4 advantage. The run started with a three-pointer from Lucas followed by the next four points from Bentley on a pair of free throws and a jumper in the lane. Lucas came back and scored the next five on another three and two from the charity stripe. Greene scored her first basket on an up-fake and drive at the 10:55 mark. Lucas hit a baseline jumper, followed by a Taylor take to the basket to give the Lady Lions a 23-4 edge with 9:25 to go in the half.
Michigan went on to score seven-straight points to shrink the Lady Lion lead to 23-11, but Nickson ended the run with a bank shot at the 6:14 mark. The half ended in a back-and-forth fashion with 14-straight exchanges of scores. During that stretch, Edwards, Bentley and Lucas each drained three pointers. Studevent nailed a baseline jumper with eight seconds remaining in the half, but Michigan's Kate Thompson answered with a three at the buzzer, as the Lady Lions entered the locker room with a 40-26 lead.
Greene opened the second half with a layup, but the Wolverines would begin to go on a roll. Michigan scored the next six on a layup, three-pointer and one free throw to trim the Lady Lion lead to 10 (42-32). After Taylor scored at the 17:09 mark, the Wolverines scored six-straight on a Thompson three and Nya Jordan basket and foul to give Penn State a 44-38 lead at the 16-minute mark.
Lucas put a halt to another potential run with a bucket at the 15:25 mark. Following a score on the other end for the Wolverines, the Lady Lions scored the next four on a pair of free throws from Lucas and a Nickson turnaround jumper. Following an exchange of baskets, the Wolverines put together five-straight points to cut the lead to 52-48 with 11 minutes left.
Edwards ended a 5:05 Lady Lion scoring drought on a three to beat the shot clock to give Penn State a 55-48 advantage with 7:10 remaining. Bentley then hit a jumper at the top of the key to up the Lady Lion lead to nine. Michigan scored four of the next six points, but a Nickson turnaround jumper in the lane and two Greene free throws gave Penn State a 63-54 advantage with 3:03 remaining. Edwards and Lucas combined for the next three and Jordan answered for the Wolverines with 55 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 10 (66-56). Nickson scored in the lane with 28 seconds to go and Thompson made one of two from the line for the Wolverines, resulting in the 68-57 final.
GAME NOTES: The Lady Lions clinch a share of the Big Ten Championship for the second consecutive season and their first back-to-back titles since 2002-03 and 2003-04 ... Additionally, Penn State has clinched the top seed in the 2013 Big Ten Tournament in Hoffman Estates March 7-10 ... The Lady Lions start conference play 13-1 for the first time since 2003-04 when they went 15-1 in the Big Ten ... Penn State extends its home court winning streak to 20 games, the fifth-longest streak in program history and third-longest active streak in NCAA Division I ... The Lady Lions finished the 2012-13 season undefeated in home games for the first time since 2004-05, marking Penn State's 10th unbeaten home season in school history (fourth in the BJC) ... The victory marked the Lady Lions' 200th win at the Bryce Jordan Center ... The Lady Lions improve to 30-9 against Michigan all-time ... Maggie Lucas became the eighth player in Lady Lions history to score 1,700 points in her career (1,711) ... Alex Bentley passed Jess Strom (2002-05) for third on the Lady Lions career steals list with 313 ... Bentley moves into sole possession of ninth place on the Lady Lions single season steals list (97) ... Lucas passes Angie Potthoff (1994-95: 515) and Andrea Garner (1999-00: 516) for 24th place on the Lady Lions single season scoring list (518) ... Four Lady Lions players scored in double digits: Maggie Lucas (21), Alex Bentley (11), Mia Nickson (11) and Ariel Edwards (11), the eight time that has happened this season ... The attendance for the Pink Zone game was 14,173, marking the fourth largest crowd in Lady Lion history.
Penn State closes out the regular-season with road games at Minnesota on Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. (ET) and Nebraska on March 2 at 6 p.m. (ET), both of which can be seen on the Big Ten Network.
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