Season Over: Lady Lions Fall to LSU 71-66
Despite a double-double effort from Nikki Greene, the Penn State Lady Lions’ season ended abruptly in the second round of the NCAA tournament against LSU, suffering a 71-66 defeat.
LSU defeated Green Bay Sunday night to advance to the second round even after having lost junior Jeanne Kenney to a concussion. Penn State attempted to capitalize on their lack of depth and get the Tigers into foul trouble, but LSU was able to hold strong down the stretch despite only seven players seeing action.
Penn State started 0-4 shooting and LSU took an easy 5-0 lead, but senior Alex Bentley took things into her own hands and scored the first 5 points for Penn State with a three point shot and easy jumper. A Mia Nickson put-back and another jumper from Bentley gave Penn State the 9-7 lead with 16:30 left in the half.
LSU took a solid lead halfway through the first, with Adrienne Webb nabbing a 3-point and-one play on the way to a 22-14 cushion. Soon enough, though, Penn State found its pace and started to come back.
With a three pointer from junior Maggie Lucas and a drive from Junior Dara Taylor, Penn State embarked on a 15-4 run to lead 42-35 as both teams went to the locker room for halftime.
To start the second half, LSU went on an 8-0 run to jump back in front as back and forth lead chances would become a common theme throughout the game, specifically the final 20 minutes. Despite foul trouble for the Tigers and clutch hook shots from Greene, Penn State was not able to re-gain the lead once Ariel Edwars scored the Lady Lions’ last points of the game with 53.9 seconds left in the game. Bianca Lutley hit a jump shot with 46 seconds to go for a 67-66 LSU lead, and the Tigers never looked back as Bentley could not convert on the other end.
Webb paved the way for the Tigers with a career-high 29 points while Lutley added 18 of her own on 7-10 shooting with 6 assists and 3 rebounds.
This disappointing early exit ends what had been a remarkable season for the Lady Lions as the regular season Big Ten Champions finish with a 26-6 (15-2 Big Ten) record, going undefeated at home. Lucas was named the Big Ten Player of the Year. Head Coach Coquese Washington was once again named Coach of the Year. Both Lucas and Bentley remain on the Naismith Player of the Year and All-American lists. Bentley was named to the 1st All-Big Ten and All-Big Ten Defensive Team. Senior Nikki Greene was named to the Third All-Big Ten team. Junior Dara Taylor was also named to the All-Big Ten Defensive Team.
Penn State will be graduating five players: Alex Bentley, Nikki Greene, Mia Nickson, Marisa Wolfe, and Gizelle Studevent, who were ranked nationally as a top recruiting class coming into their freshmen year.