From staff reports
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - In a game that featured seven ties and 12 lead changes, the Penn State Lady Lions (21-5, 11-3) claimed a 74-63 win at Purdue (19-6, 9-3) Thursday night in front of 8,681 fans at Mackey Arena.
The Lady Lions win in West Lafayette for the first time since Jan. 2, 2004, snapping a six-game road losing streak to the Boilers. With the win, Penn State can now clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title with a win over No. 11 Ohio State Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Lady Lions landed four players in double figures, led by sophomore guard Maggie Lucas, who was 5-for-7 from three-point range, en route to a game-high 28 points. She scored 20 points in the second half as the Lady Lions pushed past the Boilers. Junior forward Mia Nickson had a near double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds. She also blocked a career-high two shots.
Junior guard Alex Bentley added 10 points, four rebounds and four steals, while senior guard Zhaque Gray added 10 tallies, three assists and two steals. Nikki Greene was solid on the boards with eight rebounds to go with three points and a block. The Lady Lions pick up their 10th road win of the season, the most by a Penn State team since the 1993-94 squad won 11 games away from Happy Valley.
As you would expect with a pair of teams competing for the Big Ten regular-season title, the teams were evenly matched early on with neither team establishing a lead of more than three points in the first 13 minutes. With a layup by Talia East and a layup in transition by Bentley, the Lady Lions took a 25-21 lead with 6:39 on the clock.
The squads exchanged scores until six-straight points by Penn State, featuring buckets by Lucas, Nickson and Bentley, to make it a six-point lead (35-29) with 1:39 remaining. However, the Boilers scored the final six tallies of the opening frame to send the teams into the locker room with Penn State leading 35-33.
Lucas tallied eight points and two rebounds in the opening frame, while Bentley and Nickson added six tallies each. East was a perfect2-for-2 from the field and had five points in the first half. The Lady Lions shot 44.1% from the field, but were outrebounded, 20-19.
The Boilers evened the score at 35-35 on a basket by Sam Ostarello about a minute and a half into the second frame. However, a personal 8-0 run for Lucas that featured a pair of three pointers gave the Lady Lions a 43-35 lead with 16:41 remaining and forced Purdue to take a timeout. The Boilers came out strong after the timeout as they clicked off a 6-1 run to close within three (44-41) with 14 minutes remaining.
Following a bucket by Nickson, the Boilermakers scored five of the game's next six points to make it a one-point game (47-46) with 10:41 remaining. A Lucas three-pointer and a pair of free throws by Gray extended the lead back to six (52-46) with nine minutes left. The teams swapped scores over the next several minutes until back-to-back scores by Gray and Lucas extended the lead to eight (66-58) with three minutes left.
A three-point play by Courtney Moses sliced into the lead, but a pair of free throws by Gray pushed the lead back to seven. The Boilers once again got within five, but Nickson connected on a 16-footer as the shot clock expired to make it a 70-63 game. The Lady Lions sealed the win going 4-for-6 from the free throw line down the stretch.
Penn State returns to the BJC for its final two games against Ohio State on Monday, Feb. 20 in an ESPN Big Monday game.
Notes: The Lady Lions won in West Lafayette for the first time since Jan. 2, 2004, snapping a six-game losing streak Penn State earns its 10th road win of the season, the most by a Lady Lion squad since the 1993-94 team had 11 victories away from Happy Valley Penn State is now 16-25 all-time against Purdue It is Penn State's third win over a ranked opponent this season Junior guard Alex Bentley (1,245) moved past Kam Gissendanner (1,238) and Tina Nicholson (1,240) to 21st place on Penn State's career scoring list Bentley also moved into a tie for 13th place on PSU's career steals list (196) Junior center Nikki Greene is now tied with Helen Darling for 16th place on Penn State's career rebounding list (672) Sophomore guard Maggie Lucas moves up two spots into eighth place on PSU's single-season three-pointers list (66).