Preview: Lady Lions to Face Buckeyes in Big Ten Tournament
Coming off five days of rest after a B1G-clinching win against No. 20 Nebraska, the No. 8 Lady Lions (24-4, 14-2) will face off against unranked Ohio State (18-12, 8-9) in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament tonight at 7 p.m.
Last night, Ohio State, the tournament’s No. 9 seed, beat No. 8 seeded Minnesota, 58-47, after trailing the entire first half and coming back with a 27-4 run. Tayler Hill, just 8 shy of her 2,000th career point, scored 25 points in the first round game, giving the Buckeyes the offensive advantage they needed in a mostly defensive game. Tonight, though, a much better offensive game will be needed against a top-seeded Lady Lions team averaging well over 70 points per game.
When the two teams met during the regular season (Jan. 27), senior Nikki Greene recorded a double-double (11 points and 13 rebounds) and junior Maggie Lucas netted 18 points. Although the result, 71-56, displays a commanding lead, Penn State had to muscle back from an 11-point deficit early in the second half. Lucas scored 14 or her 18 points in the second half.
After going 1-7 in January, Ohio State is 7-2 in its last nine games, and have held each of its opponents to less than 60 points. The Lady Lions have lost two games since meeting the Buckeyes in Columbus (their only 2 Big Ten losses), one of them coming at Minnesota just last week.
In the win over Nebraska last Saturday, Lucas made a career-high eight 3-pointers and finished with 34 points to help the Lady Lions clinch sole possession of the Big Ten title. Since then, she has been named the Big Ten Player of the Year by the media and coaches. Coach Coquese Washington was named Coach of the Year (for the second consecutive year), and Alex Bentley was named to the first All-Big Ten team. In addition, Bentley was given the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given to the nation’s outstanding female player 5’8” or under.
The winner will play in the semi-finals on Saturday against the winner of Michigan State-Michigan.