In Lucas, Penn State has 'shooting' star
College Football Videos
As a freshman, Penn State shooting guard Maggie Lucas wasn't always on the same page with point guard Alex Bentley.
Coach Coquese Washington said it wasn't as if they didn't respect or like one another, but both were young, intensely competitive and used to playing a certain way.
“Once they adjusted and figured out what it takes to play at this level, they realized how much better and impactful they could be together,” said Washington, who has orchestrated the Lady Lions' return to prominence. “Once they realized that their competitive drives complemented each other, it just kind of skyrocketed both their careers.”
Lucas is now a junior, Bentley a senior, and together they are one of the top backcourt duos in the nation. They lead Penn State in its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament beginning Sunday, as the No. 3 seed Lady Lions face No. 14 Cal Poly in Baton Rouge, La.
It is the last dance, so to speak, not only for Bentley but also seniors Mia Nickson, Nikki Greene, Giselle Studevent and Ford City's Marisa Wolfe, who has been out all season with a concussion. Having lost in the second round in 2011 and to Connecticut in the Sweet 16 in 2012, Lucas said they hope having more experience will lead to a longer run in 2013. Perhaps the greatest lesson of the past two years, she said, is knowing the game isn't won or lost in the first five minutes.
“It's a long game, and that's something we've taken into games a lot of times this year,” Lucas said. “You have to take the ebbs and flows and the adjustments that need to be made. Other teams are going to make runs, but you have to stick to the game plan.”
Bentley and Lucas recently were named to the WBCA All-Region 6 team. Bentley, who averages 14 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game, also won the France Pomeroy Naismith Award for the nation's outstanding female collegian 5-foot-8 and under.
Lucas leads the Lady Lions in scoring at 20.5 points per game and was named Big Ten Player of the Year after finishing in the top five in the conference in scoring, free-throw percentage (.896), 3-point percentage (.475) and 3-pointers made (96). She is one of 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award.
A deep tournament run fueled by Lucas could propel her into the conversation about the nation's best players, discussion that this season involves Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, Baylor's Brittney Griner and Delaware's Elena Delle Donne.
“She's one of the top five returning players in the nation, in my opinion,” Washington said. “What she's done for this program on and off the court, how she's elevated her game over the course of her career, I think she's All-American next year, and I think she should be one of the premier players in the nation. I think she's going to carry the torch for women's basketball very well.”
ESPN analyst Krista Blunk said it's an important tournament not only for Penn State but also for Lucas.
“She's the next big player to know, and I think people will know a lot more about her after this year,” Blunk said. “She's just a little in the shadow of other players who get more hype, but hopefully she gives us something to let people know who she is.”
Lucas politely deflects talk about awards and individual accolades. Becoming a household name isn't among her priorities.
“I think if that happens, it would mean we had great success as a team, and that's what we're after,” Lucas said. “We want to just keep getting better as a team, and I think that's when individual players get recognized, but our focus is for Penn State to become a household name.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Harrison shines again as Pirates clip Reds, 2-1
- Outbound 376 closed because of man on exit sign
- Secret judicial ruling blocks release of sexually explicit emails
- Franklin Regional security guard fighting to get job back
- High school roundup: Greensburg Salem shocks Gateway in opener
- Steelers claim former Cowboys cornerback Webb
- Pitt’s obscure opener still matters
- Veteran Keisel settles into role with Steelers
- Pirates notebook: Lambo recalled to bolster bench
- Trueman sparks North Allegheny’s 14-0 victory over Seneca Valley
- Pickup takes out 40-foot pine tree in Harrison; officer injured