UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The Penn State Lady Lions (15-5, 7-3) made a valiant comeback in the final five minutes of regulation to force overtime, but could not control the extra frame in an 80-76 loss to Purdue (11-10, 6-4) Thursday night at the Jordan Center. The loss snaps Penn State's six-game winning streak and is the eighth consecutive loss to the Boilermakers for the Lady Lions.
Freshman Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) accounted for 22 of her career-high 27 points in the second half and overtime. She was 12-for-22 from the field on the night for her first career 20-point game. Bentley also dished out six assists and pulled in five rebounds in the loss. Senior guard Tyra Grant (Youngstown, Ohio) had another solid all-around game with 26 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. It is the 11th 20-point performance for Grant this season. It is also the first time since Jan. 9, 2003 that the Lady Lions have had two players score 25 points or more in a game. In that game, Kelly Mazzante tallied 37 points and Tanisha Wright had 27 in an 86-56 win over Iowa.
Freshman center Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) accounted for nine points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven blocks against the Boilermakers. Her seven rejections are tied for the third-most on Penn State's single-game chart and move her into second place on the Lady Lions' freshman season list with 40 rejections on the year. Junior Julia Trogele (Devon, Pa.) added seven points and seven rebounds for the Lions.
The Lady Lions made their first three field goal attempts to take a 7-4 lead three minutes into the game. A layup by Grant stretched the lead to six points, but the Boilers scored 11 the game's next 13 points to take a 15-11 lead with 13 minutes remaining in the opening frame. A circus scoop shot by Grant was the lone bucket for Penn State during the Purdue spurt.
Penn State bounced back with six consecutive points via a layup by Greene, two Grant free throws and a jumper by Bentley in transition to push the Lady Lions to a 17-15 lead with 12 minutes remaining. The lead see-sawed back and forth until Bentley knocked down a three-pointer to make it a 24-21 Penn State lead with less than eight minutes to play. However, Purdue scored nine consecutive points to establish a six-point lead (30-24) with 3:09 on the clock. The Lady Lions closed out the half by scoring five of the final eight points to give the Boilers a 33-29 lead at the break. Grant split a pair of free throw attempts and Marisa Wolfe (Ford City, Pa.) and Greene added two points each during the run.
Grant led all scorers with 12 points to go along with three rebounds and two assists. Greene added six points and three blocks, while Bentley chipped in five points and two assists. Brittany Rayburn had 10 points to lead Purdue.
Bentley opened the scoring in the second half with a jumper to cut the Boiler lead in half, but Purdue scored the game's next five points to pull out to a 38-31 lead with 18 minutes left. After several scoreless possessions, it became the Grant and Rayburn show as the two standouts combined for the game's next 13 points with Grant accounting for six tallies and Rayburn netting seven points to give Purdue a 45-37 lead with 15 minutes left.
After a layup by Ashley Wilson gave Purdue a 10-point lead (47-37), Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) connected on a three-pointer from the corner to kick-start the Lady Lions. Trogele added a jumper and Bentley nabbed the ball from FahKara Malone and took it the length of the court for the layup to make it a three-point game (47-44) with 12:22 on the clock.
The Boilermakers responded with a 10-2 spurt to push their lead back to 11 points at 57-46 with less than nine minutes remaining. Bentley knocked down a jumper to chip away at the Purdue lead and start a 7-0 run for the Lady Lions. Following a miss by Samantha Woods on the front-end of the one-and-one, Bentley drained another jumper and Greene converted on an old-fashioned three-point play to make it a 57-54 Purdue lead with six minutes left. However, Purdue built the lead back to nine points (62-53) with a three-point play by Rayburn and two free throws by K.K. Houser with 6:06 on the clock.
The Lady Lions would not quit and began to chip away at the Purdue lead with a pair of free throws by Grant. After three defensive stands, Grant was fouled on her three-point attempt, but was only able to make one of her three free throws to make it a six-point game with 4:17 remaining. Neither team would score over the next two minutes until Grant converted on a layup to slice the deficit to four. On the ensuing Purdue possession, Bentley grabbed the rebound off of a missed Rayburn jumper and went the length of the court for a transition jumper to cut the lead to 62-60 with 1:44 remaining.
Following another defensive stop, Bentley hit a jumper and was fouled by Malone for a three-point play to give Penn State a 63-62 lead, the Lady Lions' first lead since the 7:06 mark of the first half. However, Rayburn answered for the Boilermakers 19 seconds later with a layup to give Purdue a 64-63 lead with 39 seconds remaining. After Grant's jumper was the off the mark, Jodi Howell was sent to the free throw line where she made one of her two attempts to give Purdue a 65-63 lead with 26 seconds on the clock. Bentley took the ball down the court and connected on a jumper to tie the game at 65-65 with 11 seconds remaining and force overtime.
In the extra frame, the Boilermakers jumped out to a five-point lead before the Lions sliced the lead to one at 73-72 on a layup by Trogele and a three-pointer by Grant. With Purdue leading by three with 12 seconds left, Trogele made her first free throw attempt, but missed the second to make it a 78-76 game. She snagged the offensive rebound, but missed the layup attempt that would have sent the game into a second overtime. Houser made two free throws with five seconds left to seal the win for Purdue.
GAME NOTES: The last time Lady Lions had two players score 25 points or more in a game was on January 9, 2003 in an 86-56 win over Iowa when Kelly Mazzante scored 37 and Tanisha Wright tallied 27...Alex Bentley had a career-high with 27 points, surpassing her previous mark of 19 points set Jan. 24 against Illinois...Bentley also recorded a career high with 12 made field goals...Senior Tyra Grant's 26 points marks her 11th 20-point game of the season and her 37th of her career...The last time Penn State played three overtime games in a season was 2006-07 (73-66 win over Xavier, 74-65 loss at Illinois, and 73-71 loss to #1 Ohio State at Big Ten Tournament)...Nikki Greene's career-high seven blocks move her into second place on Penn State's freshman season blocks list with 40 rejections this year...Greene's seven blocks are tied for third on the all-time single-game blocks list. Amanda Brown was the last Lady Lion to record seven blocks in a game (Jan. 11, 2007 vs. Ohio State)...The Lady Lions are now 22-14 all-time against Purdue, including losses in the last eight games.
The Lady Lions travel to Michigan (Sun., Jan. 31) and Michigan State (Thurs., Feb. 4), before returning to the Bryce Jordan Center for a Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 7) meeting with No. 4/6 Ohio State at 1 p.m. The Ohio State game is a Subway Full Court Four Pack game where fans can get four tickets, four sodas and a voucher for four 6" Subway subs (offer not valid the BJC Subway) for $40. Single-game tickets can be purchased by calling the Penn State ticket office at 814-865-5555.
The 2010 WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State took place on Sunday, Jan. 24 when the Lady Lions take on Illinois in the Bryce Jordan Center. The first three Pink Zone events have raised more than $80,000 for breast cancer awareness. This year's fundraising efforts will benefit Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition and the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund. For more information or to donate online to the Pink Zone at Penn State, visit the official Pink Zone website at www.gopsusports.com/pinkzone.
The Lady Lions hold several camps throughout the summer. There is a Lady Lion Basketball Camp available for girls of all ages, ranging from shooting camp to elite camp. The 2010 Lady Lion Basketball Camp schedule is as follows: Shooting Camp (June 13-15), Elite Camp (June 20-22), Skills Camp (June 20-23), Total Package Team Camp (June 24-26) and Games Galore Team Camp (August 6-8). For more information on Lady Lion Basketball Camps, please visit psusportscamps.com and click on Lady Lion Basketball Camp.