Penn State breezes in opener of NCAA Women's Tournament
TribLIVE Sports Videos
BATON ROUGE, La. — Penn State's offense took a while to get untracked in what eventually became an 85-55 first-round NCAA Women's Tournament rout of Cal Poly.
“Coming out better defensively in the second half, that's what really got our momentum going,” said Maggie Lucas, the Big Ten Player of the Year who led the Lady Lions with 19 points, many in transition as Penn State turned up the heat after halftime.
As a result, Penn State (26-5) advanced to the second round of the NCAA Women's Tournament and plays at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN2) when it takes on sixth-seeded LSU (21-11), a 75-71 winner Sunday over 11th-seeded University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Lucas went 4 for 8 from the field in each half and finished with four assists and a game-high four steals, and backcourt mate Alex Bentley scored 18 points.
Their bigger teammates made life rough for Big West champion Cal Poly (21-11).
Senior Mia Nickson had 13 points and a game-high 13 rebounds and wasn't whistled for a foul. Junior Talia East scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked three shots. And senior Nikki Greene added 11 points and eight rebounds as they made Cal Poly's Molly Schlemer work harder than the 6-foot-5 junior ever imagined for her game-high 24 points, 12 in each half.
“It seemed like a little unfair of a fight,” joked 16th-year Cal Poly coach Faith Mimnaugh, who was taking the Mustangs to the first NCAA Women's Tournament in school history. She admitted there are no teams they faced with so much frontcourt depth.
This marks Penn State's third trip to the second round in as many years, making back-to-back NCAA trips to LSU's campus. The Lady Lions, who led by as many as 31 in the second half, trailed 17-16 with 7:45 to go before halftime before going on a defensive-fueled 10-1 run.
They led, 38-28, at halftime on a high-lofting, off-balance 3-pointer by Lucas. The junior guard had the ball on the left wing, waiting patiently for the clock to wind down, and then swished a rainbow at the buzzer.
“When I took it, I didn't think it was the best shot I could have gotten,” she said with a laugh, “but it went.”
The Lady Lions were giddy on their way to halftime.
“It might have given them a lift, but it was short-lived after I walked into the locker room,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. “We talked about the other 19 minutes and 55 seconds of the half.
“Not sure it was a big lift, but Maggie's right, that we did a better job defensively in the second half in containing the ball and contesting shots and making them take tough shots. The first half we didn't do quite as good a job as we needed to, but the second half was better.”
Penn State, 30-23 all time in NCAA Women's Tournament games, including 15-3 in the first round, never led by fewer than 14 the final 14:59. The Lady Lions held a 52-40 rebounding advantage and held Cal Poly to 27.9 percent shooting.
Lee Feinswog is a freelance writer
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.
- Polanco leads Pirates to 12-7 victory over Dodgers
- Starkey: Pirates, Burnett could work again
- Selig: Pirates’ rebirth a positive step for baseball
- Polamalu enters training camp as Steelers’ longest tenured player
- Pitt swingman Jones ready for breakout season
- Wednesday’s scouting report: Dodgers at Pirates
- Pirates notebook: Phillies’ Burnett not demanding trade
- Black leaders back developer’s offer, say it could save August Wilson Center
- Hollidaysburg native Lafferty relishing his chance with Penguins
- WVU trying to pick up pace in Big 12
- Contractor shot, killed in Homewood