Lady Lions down Ohio State to advance to Big Ten semifinals

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- The No. 8/8 Penn State Lady Lions (25-4, 14-2 Big Ten) shot 62.5 percent in the second half en route to a 76-66 win over ninth-seeded Ohio State (18-13, 7-9) in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals Friday night. The Lady Lions advance to face the winner of the Michigan State-Michigan game at approximately 7:15 p.m. (ET) Saturday in the semifinals.

Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) went 8-for-13 from the field en route to 20 points with four assists and a steal to lead the Lady Lions. Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) knocked down a trio of three-pointers en route to 18 markers with two assists and two steals, while Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) also reached double figures with 17 points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks.

Senior forward Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) just missed out on a double-double with eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Junior guard Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) was also solid for Penn State with nine points, four assists and two steals.

The squads found themselves tied at 10-10 at the 15:23 mark in an up-tempo start to the game. After a bucket by Ashley Adams gave the Buckeyes the lead, Penn State responded with a 9-2 run that featured five points from Lucas and four tallies from Bentley for a 19-14 lead with 12:24 to play. However, Ohio State responded with a 12-3 run of their own to establish a 26-22 lead with less than seven remaining.

After a Taylor bucket, the squads exchanged three-points with OSU's coming from Tayler Hill and Penn State's coming from Bentley. Ameryst Alston scored for the Buckeyes with 2:46 remaining, but that is the last bucket of the half for Ohio State. The Lady Lions ended the first with a 6-0 run that featured two free throws from Lucas, a jumper by Bentley and a pair of freebies from Greene to give Penn State the 33-31 lead heading into the break.

The Buckeyes opened the scoring in the second half to tie the game at 33-33, but consecutive scores by Greene and Taylor put the Lions up 37-33 with 18:48 left. After an exchange of buckets, the Buckeyes scored the game's next four points to tie the game at 39-39 with just under 17 minutes to play.

Bentley kicked the Lady Lions into gear with a score before Lucas hit back-to-back three-pointers. Nickson capped the 10-0 Penn State run with a pair of free throws to give the Lady Lions a 10-point lead (49-39) with 14 to play. After an Ohio State score, Nickson and Greene combined to put PSU up 53-41 with 12:23 left. Hill connected on a three-pointer to cut into the lead, but Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) responded with a pair of free throws to kick off a 7-1 Penn State run. Lucas converted on a three-point player and Nickson ended the run with a basket to make it a 15-point Penn State lead (60-45) with 9:41 on the clock.

The Buckeyes scored five of the game's next seven points to cut the PSU lead to 12 (62-50), but four consecutive points by Greene and a pair of Bentley pushed the lead to 68-50 with 5:25 remaining. Ohio State clicked off a 7-0 run to close within 11 (68-57) and that is where the lead remained until back-to-back three-pointers and a free throw from Hill cut the Penn State lead to seven (73-66) with 45 seconds to play. The Lady Lions scored the final three points of the game from the free throw line for the 76-66 win.

GAME NOTES: Penn State improves to 25-16 in Big Ten Tournament games and advance to the semifinals for the third-straight year ... The Lady Lions improve to 34-21 in games against Ohio State and 5-5 in Big Ten Tournament matchups ... Penn State improves to 13-3 all-time in Big Ten quarterfinal games ... The Lady Lions improve to 10-4 when the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament ... Penn State is off to its best start in its first 29 games since the 2003-04 squad also started 25-4 ... Maggie Lucas' 593 points this season moves her past Tanisha Wright (2004-05) for most points in a season ... With four assists, Alex Bentley passed Brianne O'Rourke for seventh place on Penn State's all-time helpers list with (560) ... Mia Nickson recorded her 600th rebound in a Penn State uniform and her 700th rebound in her overall career ... Nikki Greene score her 1,100th point in a Lady Lion uniform ... The 17 points for Greene sets a career-high for her in Big Ten Tournament games, surpassing her mark of 12 vs. Purdue on March 3, 2012.

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 www.facebook.com/pennstateladylions.

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Last Updated March 08, 2013