* Courtesy of Penn State Sports Information
STORRS, CONN. - The #10/10 Penn State Lady Lions (6-2) hung tough with the second-ranked Connecticut Huskies (8-0), but a 20-5 run late in the second half ended the Lady Lions' upset hopes on the way to a 67-52 loss at Gampel Pavilion Thursday night. Junior guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) had a team-best 15 points with four rebounds, while fellow junior Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) added 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting to lead the offensive effort.
After scoring 19 points in the NCAA Tournament loss to UConn a year ago, senior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) found success again with eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals. Junior guard Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) also added eigh points, four rebounds and two assists in the loss.
Much like the Miami game a week ago, the Lady Lions struggled with turnovers to open the game with turnovers in each of their first three possessions and quickly found themselves down 5-0 all on scores by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis less than a minute into the game. Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) got the Lions on the board with a three-pointer, but the Huskies responded with five more points, including another three for Mosqueda-Lewis to take a 10-3 lead with 16:23 on the clock.
Nickson and Taylor closed the lead to three (10-7) on back-to-back scores with 13:23 remaining. Following a bucket by Kelly Faris, Nickson and Taylor again teamed up to make it a one-point game (12-11) and kick off a 9-2 run. Lucas closed out the run with five consecutive points to take the lead at 16-14 with 10:45 left. After an exchange of scores, the Huskies went on a 10-2 run of their own to establish a 26-20 lead with 1:27 remaining. Bentley knocked down a pair of free throws and UConn split its last four attempts from the charity stripe to head into the locker room with a 28-22 lead.
The Huskies scored the first points of the second half, but Penn State bounced back with a pair of Lucas free throws when Geno Auriemma received a technical foul and Edwards converted on a layup to slice the lead to four (30-26) with 18:12 left. Following a score by UConn, Taylor made one of two free throw attempts and Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) made her layup to make the deficit three (32-29) with 16 minutes left. However, the Huskies clicked off an 8-2 run to extend the lead to nine points (40-31) with 12:27 on the clock.
The Lady Lions would score five of the game's next seven points on buckets by Edwards and Nickson and one free throw from Taylor to close within six (42-36) with less than 11 minutes remaining. The Huskies depth eventually wore the Lady Lions down as UConn went on a 20-5 run to take a 62-41 lead with less than five minutes on the clock.
Penn State would not go quietly as Bentley made a pair of free throws and Lucas knocked down a floater and a three-pointer to close the gap to 62-48 with three minutes left. UConn scored four straight, but Penn State finished the game by scoring four of the last five points for the final margin.
GAME NOTES: The Lady Lions forced 20 UConn turnovers, a season-high for the Huskies. Previously, UConn had 17 turnovers against #9/10 Maryland and #16/13 Texas A&M ... The Huskies had not trailed in a game since its season opener on Nov. 11, trailing 2-0 to the College of Charleston for 17 seconds, that streak ended tonight when the Lady Lions took a 16-14 lead with 10:46 remaining in the first half ... The Lady Lions led the Huskies on two occasions for a total of 31 seconds ... The 15-point win for UConn matches its smallest margin of victory this season, the Huskies also defeated #9/10 Maryland by 15 on Dec. 3 ... Nikki Greene scored her 900th point ... With 11 shots attempted tonight, Alex Bentley moved into eighth place on the Penn State all-time list for shot attempts with 1,335.
The Lady Lions return home to face Georgetown on Sunday, Dec. 9 at noon for the annual Toys for Tots game. Sunday is also Girls Scouts Day and a Subway Full Court 4-Pack game. Go to www.GoPSUsports.com/promotions/wbb.html for complete promotions information.
Single game tickets for the Lady Lions are on sale now. Tickets are $15 and $12 for adults and seniors and $9 and $7 for youth (12 and younger). Lady Lion Basketball season tickets are still available by calling 1-800-NITTANY. Season tickets are $99 for adults and $50 for youth (12 and under), this includes a Nittany Lion Kids Club Membership for 2012-13. The PNC Flex Books are available again this year for $99. The Flex Book gives fans 12 vouchers, 10 that can be redeemed in any combination for Nittany Lion and Lady Lion Basketball tickets throughout the year and two extra vouchers for the Nittany Lions' Coaches Vs. Cancer game and the Lady Lions' Pink Zone game.
The 2013 Pink Zone at Penn State will take place on Sunday, Feb. 24 as the Lady Lions take on Michigan in the Bryce Jordan Center. Last year, the Lady Lions donated a record $203,000 to breast cancer causes. This year's fundraising efforts will benefit the Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Lewistown Hospital. For more information on the Pink Zone at Penn State, visit the official Pink Zone website at www.pennsylvaniapinkzone.org.
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.