Lady Lions Take Big Ten Title

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In front of a raucous crowd of 5,209 fans, the No. 11/17 Penn State Lady Lions (22-5, 12-3) clinched a share of their first Big Ten title since 2004 with a wire-to-wire win over No. 8/11 Ohio State (23-4, 10-4), 84-66.

Among those in attendance to support the Lady Lions were head football coach Bill O'Brien, men's basketball coach Patrick Chambers, women's volleyball coach Russ Rose and Penn State president Rodney Erickson. The Lady Lions had three players record double-doubles, led by junior Nikki Greene's (Diboll, Texas) 25-point, 15-rebound performance.

"We try our best night in and night out to represent Penn State's slogan, Success With Honor," head coach Coquese Washington said as she addressed the crowd at the postgame ceremony. "At this moment, I cannot be prouder to represent Penn State University."

Greene's 25 points are a career high, surpassing the previous mark of 24 set against Utah on Nov. 25, 2010, and the 15 rebounds tie her season high. Joining Greene in a tremendous effort from the post players was junior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.), who registered her third double-double of the season with 18 points and 15 boards. Sophomore Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) was the third Lady Lion to tally a double-double with 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the first double-double of her career.

All five starters reached double figures for the Lady Lions. Senior Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) accounted for 12 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) added 10 points and four assists. The Lady Lions out-rebounded the Buckeyes, 60-32.

With the score knotted at 9-9 less than five minutes in, an 11-2 Lady Lion run sparked by a Nickson layup gave Penn State a 20-11 lead at the 12:35 mark. Ohio State narrowed the gap to five (22-17) with a successful trip to the foul line and a jumper from Kalpana Beach. However, the Lady Lions answered back with six-straight points for a 28-17 lead with 8:46 to play in the first half.

The Buckeyes fired back with a 7-0 run of their own to cut Penn State's lead to only four (28-24). Following a Lady Lion timeout, Penn State embarked on a 13-2 run for a convincing 41-26 advantage with just over two minutes remaining in the half. Greene had eight of Penn State's points during the run, while Gray tallied two and Lucas drained a three.

Ohio State missed their next two shots, but a PSU turnover allowed Samantha Prahalis to nail a jumper. Prahalis went on to foul Lucas who made two free throws to put Penn State back ahead by 15 (43-28). Lucas scored Penn State's final two points of the half with 15 seconds remaining on another two free throws, increasing the Lady Lion lead to 17 (45-28). The Buckeyes sank the final bucket of the half to make it 45-30 in favor of Penn State.

The Lady Lions opened the half with an 8-2 run for a 53-34 lead. The Buckeyes fought Penn State's lead down to 16 (54-38), but back-to-back jumpers had Penn State with the 20-point advantage a little less than six minutes into the second half (58-38).

A Penn State foul allowed a four-point Buckeye run, 58-42, but Penn State scored five of the next seven points to go back up by 20 (63-43) by the 11-minute mark. Ohio State took off on a 6-2 run, but Prahalis fouled Lucas, who sparked a 7-0 Lady Lion run to increase Penn State's lead to 21 (70-49) with 8:06 to play.

The teams traded baskets for almost four minutes with Penn State maintaining at least an 18-point lead. Nickson made two shots at the line to make it 79-59. Ohio State's Darryce Moore also made a trip to the foul line where she hit both baskets, but Greene scored the next three points off a layup and a free throw to give Penn State its 21-point lead back (82-61). Ohio State closed out the game with a 5-2 run, but it was too little too late as the Lady Lions sealed the 84-66 win.


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