Lady Lions Upset by Golden Gophers

Story posted February 28, 2013 in CommRadio, Sports by Ross Insana

The 7th-ranked Penn State Lady Lions (23-4 overall, 13-2 Big Ten) had their seven-game winning streak snapped after a shocking 89-81 road loss at the hands of the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Thursday night at "The Barn" in Minneapolis, Minn.

A victory could have locked up the top overall seed in the Women’s Big Ten Tournament for the Lady Lions, but now they control their own destiny in Sunday night’s regular season finale against a Nebraska team that is now clicking at their heels to unseat the Lions as the #1 seed. The 89 points allowed to Minnesota were the most allowed in a game by the Lady Lions this season.

Offense and high-paced action up and down the floor was the story for most of the first half as both teams filled up the score sheets with 11 out of the game’s first 15 shots going in. Minnesota started off the game white-hot, racing out to quick 5-0 lead in a minute’s time on the shoulders of Sari Noga’s first of six three-pointers and a fast break basket by Micaella Riche.

For the rest of the first half, and in some case the entire game, Penn State was not able to get in their usual rhythm offensively as Minnesota played very tight defensively to complement their 66.7% shooting effort. Penn State attempted 30 more shots than Minnesota, but the Lady Lions were able to keep themselves in the high-tempo game, combining for 14 steals as a team and converting a decent portion of their points thanks to Minnesota coughing up the ball 23 times.

Penn State came out with guns blazing to start the second half as Mia Nickson found Maggie Lucas behind the arc off a big offensive rebound. Lucas connected for a key three pointer that turned into a four point play after a foul on the shot. That sequence of events gave the Lions their first and only lead of the game at 40-37, but that was not enough to stop the hot-shooting Gophers as they quickly turned the corner with a 12-2 run of their own.

Both teams were also very physical throughout the entire game as four foul calls had to be looked at further by the officials, while Alex Bentley of the Lady Lions and Kionna Kellogg of the Golden Gophers each fouled out. Five other players finished the night with four personal fouls as Penn State finished the night with 26 fouls to Minnesota’s 23.

In the losing effort, Lucas went 10-for-21 overall from the floor with 23 points to lead the Lady Lions in scoring while being very uncharacteristic and only going 2-for-8 from three-point land. Bentley also added 19 points and four steals on the night. Nikki Greene had 15 points and eight rebounds, with all of her points coming in a strong second half.

The performances of the trio of Minnesota’s Noga, Riche and Rachael Banham were the focal point of the upset win. Noga went a flawless 6-for-6 from three-point range and 6-for-7 overall from the field with a career high 19 points. Riche led all scorers in the game with 24 points and was a force down low in the trenches. Banham put together a solid effort on both ends of the floor with seven assists on top of her 21 points.

The Lady Lions close out their regular season play on the road against the 20th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers with Big Ten Tournament play beginning on March 7 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The top-seeded Lady Lions have a first round bye and will play Friday, March 8 at 6pm central. All Lady Lions games in the conference tournament will air live on ComRadio.

Ross Insana is junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail