Penn State Women's Basketball: Backcourt Tandem Once Again Carries Lady Lions to Victory
Updated at 4:10 p.m.
Rapid Recap: No. 8 Penn State 71, Michigan State 56
Overview: March is only five games away, and the Lady Lions hold a 2.5 game lead over Purdue in the Big Ten regular season standings.
The backcourt tandem of Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas has been the backbone of this team for the last two years, and the duo combined for 43 points Sunday afternoon against Michigan State.
They provide the crux of the Lady Lions’ scoring, but the addition of transfer-guard Dara Taylor has added another dimension to the team’s transition game and its defense. Taylor and Bentley both nabbed four steals each, accounting for eight of the Spartans’ 21 turnovers.
Strong guard play is a must in tournament play, which certainly bodes well for Penn State’s chances next month to make a Final Four run.
Turning Point: Penn State closed the first half on a 21-7 run and started the second half on a 21-7 run. The Lady Lions turned a one-time nine-point deficit into a 19-point lead.
The catalysts for the offensive explosions? Bentley and Lucas.
Player of the Game: Bentley filled up the stat sheet, scoring a game-high 24 points, forcing four steals and committing just one turnover. She seemed to routinely give Penn State a basket when it most needed one, and late conversions with the shot clock winding down just frustrate the opposition.
Stat of the Game: Penn State held a 29-8 advantage in points off turnovers, most coming off the 17 steals the Lady Lions forced.
What it Means: Just the usual conference victory for a team that won’t be judged until March. The Lady Lions have beaten every team in the Big Ten at least once this season, with the exception of Iowa and Illinois, the only teams Penn State has yet to face.
The next two opponents? Iowa and Illinois.
On Deck: The Lady Lions travel to Iowa (16-8, 5-5 Big Ten) on Thursday night for the only regular season meeting between the two schools. Likewise, Illinois’ visit to the Jordan Center will be the first meeting between the two teams this season as well.
Halftime Update: No. 8 Penn State 32, Michigan State 27
Penn State trailed for mostly all of the first half Sunday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center, but a decisive advantage on the glass and with its size enabled it to never let Michigan State get out of reach.
Penn State didn’t grab its first lead until 2:02 remained in the first half, when Ariel Edwards converted a pair of free throws, and a Maggie Lucas 3-pointer extended the lead to five, the margin entering the second half.
Nikki Greene and Alex Bentley led all scorers with nine points each in the first half, and Lucas added seven and pulled down five rebounds.
Michigan State, which shot 35.7 percent from the field in the half, led by as many as nine before the Lady Lions made their comeback.