No. 7 Lady Lions fall at Minnesota, 89-81

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota (17-12, 6-9) shot 66.7 percent from the field on the way to an 89-81 win over the No. 7/7 Penn State Lady Lions (23-4, 13-2 Big Ten) Thursday night at Williams Arena. The 89 points allowed are the most for the Lions, their previous high was 74 against Georgetown.

Junior guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) accounted for a team-best 23 points to go along with two rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) added 19 points, three rebounds, three assists and four steals. Senior Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) came on strong in the second half scoring all 15 of her points in the second half and pulling in eight of her nine boards after the break.

The Golden Gophers took the early 5-0 lead on a three by Sari Noga and a bucket by Micaella Riche, but Penn State responded with back-to-back scores from Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) and Bentley to close within a point just two minutes into the game. After an exchange of scores that included a Taylor three-pointer, tied the game at 9-9, Minnesota scored seven of the game's next nine point to take a 14-9 lead with 16 minutes left in the opening frame.

Following a Lucas basket, the Gopher scored four consecutive points to extend the lead to seven (20-13) with 14 minutes left. After a scoring exchange, the Lady Lions went on a 6-2 run that featured a bucket by Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.), a steal and layup from Lucas and Taylor to close within three (24-21) with eight minutes remaining.

The Gophers would push the lead back to nine points with a 10-5 run, but the Lady Lions ended the half strong with a 10-2 spurt of their own. Nickson started the run with a pair of free throws, followed by a couple of freebies by Bentley. After a score by the Gophers, Nickson grabbed a Lucas miss and put it back for the bucket, Bentley nabbed the steal and converted it for the layup and Lucas capped the scoring run with a floater to make it 37-36 at the break.

Lucas started the second frame with some fireworks connecting on a three-pointer and getting fouled for the four-point play to take their first lead of the game (40-37) just 25 seconds into the half. However, Rachel Banham responded with a four-point play of her own and kicked off a 12-2 Minnesota run to give the Gophers a 49-42 lead with 16:30 on the clock.

The Lady Lions would score six of the game's next eight points on buckets by Lucas and Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) and two free throws by Greene to make it a three-point game (51-48) with 14:38 remaining. Minnesota would extend the lead back to 11 points (63-52) as the Lady Lions, who were in the double bonus less than seven minutes into the frame, struggled to convert on their opportunities from the charity stripe.

After back-to-back buckets by Greene and Lucas, the Golden Gophers clicked off a 8-2 run to take a 71-58 lead with eight minutes left. The Lady Lions fought back with a 6-1 run that featured a goal by Greene and a pair of steals and layups by Bentley and Taylor to close within eight (72-64) with six minutes left. The lead remained six until back-to-back scores by the Gophers stretched the lead to 10 (84-74) with 1:42 remaining. The Lions would close within six, but couldn't generate enough stops in the final stretch.

GAME NOTES: The Lady Lions are 27-12 all-time against Minnesota and 10-9 in games played in Minneapolis ... With two three-pointers, Maggie Lucas now sits alone in third place in Big Ten history in three-pointers made with 272 for her career ... With 23 points, Lucas passes Angie Potthoff for seventh place in program history with 1,735 points ... Lucas now has 541 points on the season, passing Kelly Mazzante's total of 529 from 2000-01 for 19th place in the Lady Lion record books ... With eight made field goals, Alex Bentley passes Tyra Grant for seventh in Lady Lion history with 694 career makes ... Bentley's four steals moves her into second place alone in Penn State history with 317 thefts, passing Helen Darling ... Bentley now has 101 steals on the year, moving her past Helen Darling for seventh on the program's single-season list ... Bentley scored her 1,700th career point.

Penn State closes out the regular-season at Nebraska on March 2 at 6 p.m. (ET) on the Big Ten Network. The Lady Lions will then travel to the Big Ten Tournament in Hoffman Estates, Ill. from March 7-10.

The Lady Lions are on Twitter. Follow sports information contact Kris Petersen (@ladylionsid) and the Lady Lions and coaches (@pennstatewbb) to get the inside scoop. The Lady Lions are also on Facebook at

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Last Updated March 01, 2013