STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - The #9/9 Penn State Lady Lions (11-2, 1-0 Big Ten) used a late rally to fend off the Northwestern Wildcats (8-6, 0-1) in their Big Ten opener by a score of 73-69 on Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Wildcats held a six-point advantage with 4:47 remaining in the contest, but Penn State closed the game on 17-9 run to seal the comeback victory.
Junior guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) led the way for the Lady Lions, netting 24 points. All five of Lucas' field goals came from three-point range while she shot 9-for-12 from the charity stripe. The Narberth native additionally tallied four assists, two blocks and five steals in the win. The Lady Lions accumulated 19 total steals with a career-high seven steals coming from junior Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.).
Senior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) recorded her 13th career double-double in the win, tallying season highs of 14 points and 13 rebounds. Senior point guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) added nine points to go along with six steals and three assists. Taylor additionally chipped in nine points.
Northwestern jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead until Bentley scored on a three-point field goal 3:59 into the contest. Following a Nickson putback, the Wildcats put together a 7-0 run to up their lead to 13-5 with 13:35 remaining. Penn State would answer right back though with a 7-0 run to shrink the lead to one (13-12) thanks a three from Lucas, and made free throws by Nickson and junior Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.).
With the Lady Lions down 25-19, Bentley made two free throws to cut the lead to four the freshman Candice Agee (Victorville, Calif.) scored two of her four points to shrink the Wildcat lead to two (25-23) with 6:10 remaining. The Wildcats would push their lead back to four points over the next two-plus minutes before Lucas closed the deficit to one (31-30) with 3:06 to go in the half on a made three, but Northwestern would go on a 7-2 run to close the half and take a six point lead into the locker room (38-32).
Greene, who was relegated to the bench for 18 minutes in the first half with foul trouble, started the second half with a layup 1:45 in to cut Northwestern's lead to four. The Lions scored three of the game's next five points, but two-straight Wildcat baskets would put Penn State down seven (44-37) with 16:09 left.
With 13:33 remaining in the contest, the Lady Lions would begin a run that started with a baseline drive by junior Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) to make the score 45-41 in favor of the Wildcats. Lucas sank two free throws and Nickson tied it up on two ensuing makes from the charity stripe to make it 45-45 with 12:49 on the clock. Penn State garnered its first lead of the game on one Lucas free throw and an Edwards drive to the basket to close out the 7-0 run and give the Lady Lions a 48-45 lead with 11:06 to go in the contest.
The squads exchanged scores until the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run to establish a 62-56 lead with 4:24 remaining. Alex Cohen capped the run with five consecutive points, including a banked in three-pointer as the shot clock expired. Trailing 62-56, Greene cut into the Wildcat lead on a putback at the 3:56 mark. After Lauren Douglas made one of two free throws, Lucas scored four consecutive tallies, including her fifth three-pointer of the game to shrink the lead to 63-62 with 2:35 remaining.
A Kate Popovec layup put Northwestern back up by three, but Taylor would score four consecutive points on a jumper and layup to jump-start an 8-0 that would give the Lady Lions a 70-65 lead with 36 seconds remaining.
Two Karly Roser free throws for Northwestern would shrink the lead to three with 31 seconds to go, but East made one of two from the line on the other end to make it a two-possession game with 23 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Roser knocked down a jumper to cut the lead to two with 14 seconds remaining (71-69). Northwestern was unable to foul Bentley until there were two seconds remaining on the clock. Bentley made both free throws, resulting in a 73-69 final score.
--PSU Athletic Communications--