Lady Lions Advance to Sweet 16 With 90-80 Win Over LSU
The 4th seeded Penn State women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004 after a hard-fought 90-80 victory over 5-seed LSU. Maggie Lucas paced the Lady Lions with 30 points, and Mia Nickson contributed with a double-double in the win.
If not for Lucas, Penn State would have been out of the game at halftime. After opening the game on a 9-0 run, the Lady Lions struggled to contain LaSondra Barrett and the LSU offense. The Lady Tigers dominated the glass and got both Alex Bentley and Nikki Greene into early foul trouble. Couple that with a raucous crowd in support of LSU, and Penn State easily could have wilted under the pressure.
Lucas would have none of that. The Penn State guard scored five 3-pointers en route to a 19-point first half performance. Despite her best efforts, though, LSU still led 37-36 at the halftime break.
In the second half, it was all about Lucas’s teammates: Bentley scored all 10 of her points after the break,and Ariel Edwards came off the bench and asserted her presence, scoring 15 points. However, it would be Lucas that finished off the Lady Tigers for good. LSU had gained the momentum at the 3:11 point of the second half. The Lady Tigers had scored five points in a row to narrow the Penn State lead to just three. Lucas responded by scoring her first points of the half on a layup, which turned into an and-1. She would score eight more points down the stretch, all from the free throw line, to guide the Lady Lions to victory.
Barrett ended her stellar LSU career with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Bianca Lutley also had a double-double for the Lady Tigers, with 14 points and 10 boards. As a team, LSU went 22-for-24 from the free throw line and had 12 more rebounds than Penn State, but these advantages were just not enough to earn a win. Turnovers plagued LSU, as did a poor shooting night from beyond the arc.
Penn State will travel to Kingston, RI, to take on No. 1 Connecticut on Sunday in the Sweet 16. The Huskies will be heavily favored to win before a partisan crowd, and advance to the Elite 8. However, Lucas might just have a thing or two to say about that before things are said and done.
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