Lady Lions come up short against Michigan State

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- After a solid shooting night in the semifinals, the No. 8/8 Penn State Lady Lions (25-5, 14-2 Big Ten) struggled from the field with a 22.4 percent shooting effort en route to a 54-46 loss to Michigan State (24-7, 10-6) in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. 

The shooting effort marked the first time that Penn State shot below 25 percent since shooting 23 percent at Alabama on Dec. 19, 1996. The Lady Lions will now await their fate in the NCAA Tournament until Selection Monday on Monday, March 18.

Junior guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) connected on seven of her 13 three-point attempts en route to 23 points. She also pulled in nine rebounds and had one steal. With her effort, Lucas became the seventh player in school history to reach the 1,800-point plateau. Senior guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) added eight points, three assists and two steals.

The Lady Lions scored the first four points of the game on buckets by Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) and Bentley before Jasmine Thomas connected on a three to put the Spartans on the board with 18:43 on the clock. A Bentley three-pointer kicked off a Lady Lions run that also featured four points from Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.), a three from Lucas and Tori Waldner (Milton, Ga.) capped the 12-2 run with a layup off of an in-bounds pass from Bentley to make it 16-5 with 12:47 left in the opening frame. The Spartans ended the half with a 12-3 run to give the Lady Lions a 19-17 lead at the break. Penn State did not have a field goal over the final 12:47 of the half.

Greene opened the second half scoring with a layup, but five consecutive Michigan State points gave the Spartans their first lead of the game at 22-21 with 17 minutes remaining. However, Lucas responded on the ensuing possession with a three-pointer of her own to retake the lead at 24-22 with 16:46 on the clock. The Spartans clicked off a 10-0 run to establish a 32-24 with 9:23 remaining.

The Lady Lions responded with a 9-2 run that started with a Bentley triple. After a score for the Spartans, Lucas drained back-to-back three-pointers to close the gap to 34-33 with 8:28 left and forcing a Michigan State timeout. The Spartans came out of the timeout on fire, going on a 10-point run to take a 44-33 lead with 4:10 remaining. Lucas tried to give the Lions life with her fifth three-pointer of the game and a pair of free throws sandwiched around a Jasmine Hines basket, but the Spartans would get a coast-to-coast score from Jasmine Thomas to push the lead back to 10. The squads swapped baskets before Lucas sandwiched a pair of three-pointers around one MSU free throw to close the gap to five (51-46) with 27 seconds left, but the Spartans sealed the win with three free throws for the 54-46 win.

GAME NOTES: Penn State drops to 26-14 in games all-time versus Michigan State and 2-2 in games played in the Big Ten Tournament ... Penn State falls to 7-6 in Big Ten semifinal games ... Penn State is now 10-5 in games as the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament ... Penn State shot 22.4 percent from the field, marking the first time it shot under 25 percent from the field in a game since Dec. 19, 1996 when the Lady Lions shot 23% at Alabama ... Maggie Lucas surpassed the 1,800-point mark for her career ... The seven three-pointers for Lucas is her Big Ten Tournament high ... Lucas' nine rebounds is a Big Ten Tournament career high ... Lucas tallied her 14th 20-point game of the season and the 46th of her career ... With nine rebounds, Lucas reached the 400 rebound plateau for her career ... With the 23 points, Lucas moves up two spots to seventh on Penn State's single season scoring list, passing Kahadeejah Herbert and Tyra Grant with 616 points ... Lucas' seven threes gives her 96 on the season, passing Kelly Mazzante's 2003-04 mark of 92 threes, for fourth in school history.

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Last Updated March 15, 2013