INDIANAPOLIS, IND. - The sixth-seeded Penn State Lady Lions (17-12, 8-10) found their defensive and transition games on the way to a 63-52 victory over No. 11 seed Minnesota (13-17, 6-12) in the Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse Thursday afternoon. The Lady Lions, who won a Big Ten Tournament game for the first time since the 2006-07 season, will now face No. 3 seed Iowa (17-12, 10-8) in the quarterfinals at approximately 2 p.m. tomorrow. The Iowa game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.
After being shutout in the first half, senior Tyra Grant (Youngstown, Ohio) and freshman and former Diboll Ladyjack Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) combined for 27 points in the second frame with 15 and 12 tallies, respectively. Grant also added four rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals. She now needs 11 points to become the fourth player in school history to reach the 2,000-point plateau. Greene, who tied her career scoring high for the seventh time this season, accounted for six rebounds and three rejections.
Junior Julia Trogele (Devon, Pa.) was outstanding for the Lady Lions Thursday with five points, six rebounds, a career-best seven assists and two steals, while senior Meredith Monroe (Olney, Md.) knocked down all four shots she took en route to eight points and a team-best seven rebounds. Freshman Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) tallied nine points, three assists and a career high tying four steals in her first game in front of her hometown crowd.
The Lady Lions struck quickly as Trogele found Bentley off of the tip for an easy bucket just five seconds into the game. The Golden Gophers scored three consecutive points, but Janessa Wolff (Park Rapids, Minn.) and Bentley connected on the game's next two baskets to give the Lions a 6-3 lead with less than 17 minutes to play.
The Golden Gophers, who started the game 6-for-8 from the field, reeled off a 13-0 run to take a 16-6 lead with 12 minutes remaining. Monroe snapped Penn State's five-minute scoreless drought with a pair of jumpers to start an 11-0 run for the Lady Lions. Trogele netted a three-pointer in transition and Gizelle Studevent (La Jolla, Calif.) converted on a floater during the run, while Monroe capped the run with a rebound and putback to give PSU a 17-16 lead with seven minutes to play in the frame.
Minnesota responded to the Penn State run by scoring seven the of the game's next nine points to established a 23-19 lead with five minutes remaining. After an exchange of possessions, Bentley drained a jumper as the shot clock expired to cut the deficit to two points (23-13), but the Gophers made a pair of free throws on their next opportunity to stretch the lead back to four with 3:43 on the clock. Bentley continued her solid half with another jumper and Marisa Wolfe (Ford City, Pa.) and Studevent added two free throws apiece to give the Lions a 27-25 lead with two minutes left. Minnesota capped the first half scoring with a layup by Ashley Ellis-Milan to even the score at 27-27.
Bentley and Monroe paced Penn State in the opening half with eight points each. Bentley also added a pair of steals. Trogele had a solid first half with three points, four rebounds and four assists. China Antoine connected on three three-pointers to lead Minnesota with nine tallies. The Lady Lions registered seven steals off of 12 Golden Gopher turnovers in the first period.
Minnesota started the scoring in the second half with a layup by Ellis-Milan, but Grant responded with her first bucket of the game on Penn State's initial possession of the second half. Following a Golden Gopher score by Jackie Voigt, Greene kick-started a 10-0 run with a layup. Trogele had a great dribble-drive and Grant scored five consecutive points during the run to pace the Lions.
Brittany McCoy ended a four-minute drought for the Gophers with a layup, but Greene made a strong move to the basket on a Trogele pass and Wolff converted on a pass from Grant to stretch the Penn State lead to 10 points (43-33) with 13 minutes left in the game. The Lady Lions maintained their 10-point lead for the remainder of the game. The closest that the Gophers could get in the final 13 minutes was six points on two occasions, but the Lions responded both times.
Penn State is 21-16 all-time against Iowa, including a season sweep of the Hawkeyes with a 77-73 overtime win and a 68-62 victory. The Lady Lions have won both Big Ten Tournament games between the squads (2005 and 1995). The Lady Lions are 10-2 all-time in Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal games.
GAME NOTES: The Lady Lions win a Big Ten Tournament game for the first time since the 2006-07 when they defeated #4 seed Illinois, 73-71, in the quarterfinals...Junior Julia Trogele tied her career high with seven assists...Freshman Nikki Greene tied her career high with 12 points for the seventh time this season...Senior Tyra Grant is now 11 points away from becoming the fourth player in school history to reach 2,000 points...Penn State defeats Minnesota for the first time since Feb.15, 2007, a string of six games...This was the first time that the teams met in the Big Ten Tournament...The Lady Lions are 10-2 all-time in Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal games.
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.
The Lady Lions are on Twitter. Follow head coach Coquese Washington (@psucoachquese), sports information contact Kris Petersen (@ladylionsid) and the Lady Lions and assistant coaches (@pennstatewbb) to get the inside scoop. The Lady Lions are also on Facebook. Search Lady Lion Basketball and become a fan.