The Lady Lions' senior guard has so often been the catalyst, and emotional leader, for head coach Coquese Washington's club. That didn't change Tuesday.
Lucas and fellow Penn State senior and guard Dara Taylor each scored 22 points, and senior forward Ariel Edwards added 18, to lift the No. 3 seed Lions to an 83-61 NCAA Tournament second-round victory over No. 11 seed Florida Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
"It means the world to us," Lucas said. "It means the world to us. We were able to share it with our fans. I think back to my freshman year [when a loss at the BJC knocked PSU from NCAAs]; it's just a whole lot better of a feeling to advance. I'm very excited."
Penn State jumped out to a 17-4 lead over the undersized, turnover-prone Gators before the second media timeout was in the books. It never looked back.
The Lady Lions led by as many as 28, and though Florida once climbed within six in the first half and battled back with a 17-4 second half run to pull within 15 with just under five minutes to play, the visitors never truly threatened.
It was a lead and victory built partly on a team effort [seven different Lions scores] and partly built on the turnover-happy Gators, who entered the contest averaging 16 miscues per outing. By the final horn Tuesday, coach Amanda Butch's club had amassed 20 turnovers, leading to 33 Penn State points.
We wanted to be active defensively and contest shots and make them play faster than they wanted to play, Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. Some nights that results in turnovers, and some nights it doesn't but it results in missed shots.
We got some turnovers, had active hands, and got points in transition.
Taylor's 22 points were a career high, and her eight rebounds matched a career mark. For Lucas, her final stat line -- 22 points, four assist and three rebounds -- was typical.
That's Maggie on a daily basis, so I'm not surprised at her doing that," Taylor said. I kind of just didn't think about it being my last [home] game beforehand, but I just went out being aggressive and it kind of paid off.
With the win, Penn State is back in the Sweet 16 after falling short of that mark last season. The Lady Lions were upset by LSU in second round last season.
No. 2 Stanford is up next for Penn State, and the game will be played on the Cardinal's home turf. Taylor said she believes PSU matches up well with the Tree, and Washington may feel the same way.
But she's not thinking about it until Wednesday.
I am enjoying this moment, Washington said. Today is Penn State.