Lady Lions Roll to Seventh Straight Victory
There is a reason that Nebraska head coach Connie Yori, and a host of other Big Ten coaches voted for Alex Bentley as the preseason Player of the Year. The senior guard scored 19 points and recorded a team-high 5 steals to lead the Penn State Lady Lions (13-2, 3-0) to an 80-58 rout over the Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-5, 2-2) Sunday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Nebraska jumped out to an early lead behind 10 first-half points from sophomore forward Emily Cady. With Penn State leading 17-16, Maggie Lucas knocked down her third three pointer of the first half to spark a 9-0 run that put the Lady Lions ahead for good.
The Cornhuskers appeared to have a shot to cut the lead to single digits before halftime. With four seconds left, Bentley stripped the ball from Lindsey Moore and erupted the BJC by draining a 50-foot shot as time expired.
“It was a huge adrenaline rush for the team,” head coach Coquese Washington said. “It was just a huge lift for us going to halftime.”
The shot gave the Lady Lions a 40-27 halftime lead, but as Washington would note, it was the team’s defensive pressure down the stretch that fueled the run at the end of the first half.
“I thought our defense got a lot better,” Washington said. “We were able to force some tough shots, get rebounds, and really get out in transition.”
Penn State was able to force 19 turnovers, 13 of which came off of steals. Arguably the best backcourt in the conference, Bentley, Lucas, and Dara Taylor combined for 11 steals which ultimately resulted in 28 points off of turnovers for the Lady Lions.
“I think we’re all really excited about our growth on the defensive side of the ball from last year to this year,” junior forward Ariel Edwards, who scored 15 points and contributed six rebounds off the bench, said. “Dara is great on the ball, and Alex and Maggie are so good together.”
Bentley and Lucas once again led the Lady Lions offensively with 19 points each, and the two put on a show for the crowd with some highlight assists during Penn State’s late run in the first half. Lucas, with today’s performance, became the 13th player in program history to eclipse 1,500 career points. Taylor also matched a season-high with eight assists.
For the Cornhuskers, Cady would ultimately lead the team with 17 points. Junior forward Jordan Hooper, Nebraska’s leading scorer at 17.9 ppg, was held to 5-16 from the floor for only 11 points. As a team, Nebraska shot only 31.4% from the field and a lowly 20% from behind the arc.
The 21-point victory marked the first time since the 2004-2005 campaign that the Lady Lions have had back-to-back conference victories of more than 20 points. Penn State defeated Michigan State in East Lansing 76-55 back on Jan. 6.
The Lady Lions remain at home when they take on the Wisconsin Badgers Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip-off is set for 7pm and can be heard live on ComRadio.
Matt Lawrence is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.