Lady Lions Win Junkanoo Jam, Lucas Earns Tournament MVP

Maggie Lucas added one more accolade to her impressive pre-conference résumé and the Penn State Lady Lions defeated Illinois State 72-60 in Freeport, Bahamas to win the Freeport division of the Junkanoo Jam Championship.

Lucas, a pre-season second team All American, scored 25 points in the final game and was named the Tournament MVP. Senior guard Dara Taylor was selected to the All-Tournament team, as the No. 14/13 Lady Lions improved to 5-1 on the season.

Facing a smaller, less experienced Illinois State (1-3) squad, the Lady Lions demonstrated great depth in the contest. Six players scored at least six points, led by Lucas’ 7-for-15 shooting. Alex Harris contributed 6 points and 11 rebounds and Talia East stuffed the stat sheet with 6 points, 11 boards, and 2 blocks.

Three scoring runs and hot shooting marked the first half for both teams. Penn State jumped out ahead early, leading 17-7 six minutes in thanks to a pair of Lucas threes. The Redbirds responded with a 13-4 run of their own, but a 9-2 spurt by Penn State ultimately carried the Lady Lions into the locker room with a 44-34 advantage. Penn State shot 57.6 percent from the field in the first twenty minutes.

Both teams cooled down considerably to begin the second frame. The Lions and Redbirds combined for only six points in the first four minutes. An ensuing 9-2 Illinois State burst brought the Redbirds within three, 52-49, with ten minutes to go.

However, that would be as close as the Redbirds would get to clawing back against the Lady Lions. A Keke Sevillian three pointer, six Lucas free throws, and multiple stops on the defensive end put Penn State ahead 67-56 with two minutes remaining. Several stout defensive stops and more foul shots sealed the game’s fate at 72-60.

The Lady Lions will have a few days to rest before a highly anticipated matchup against Notre Dame on Wednesday, December 4 at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Irish are coach Coquese Washington’s alma mater. An annual powerhouse, Notre Dame currently sits at 5-0.

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Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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