Penn State powers by UTEP
Lucas, Bentley combine for 44 points as Nittany Lions roll
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Penn State guards Maggie Lucas and Alex Bentley have been taking over games all season, and UTEP was powerless to change that in the NCAA tournament.
Lucas scored 23 points, Bentley had 21 and fourth-seeded Penn State defeated No. 13 seed UTEP 85-77 in the opening round Sunday.
Zhaque Gray added 15 points for the Lady Lions (25-6), who trailed for much of the first half but led nearly all of the second en route to their second consecutive appearance in the second round.
Gloria Brown had 18 points and 10 rebounds for UTEP (29-4), which had not lost by more than three points all season before running into Penn State, the Big Ten regular-season champion.
|WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNEY 101|
|Box Score Highlights Photos|
|Brackets: Interactive Printable|
|• Equally dangerous Eagles|
|• Auriemma’s audacity works for UConn|
|• Green Bay's Wojta putting Phoenix on map|
|• Top seeds could be tested on road|
Kayla Thornton added 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Jenzel Nash scored 13 for the Miners, who led by as many as seven in the first half but fell behind by as much as 14 in the second.
Both teams shot a little under 42 percent and UTEP outrebounded Penn State 45-36, but the Miners were hurt by 17 turnovers, which the Lady Lions converted into 22 points.
Nikki Greene scored 12 for Penn State, which took its biggest lead when Bentley scored to make it 59-45 with 12:46 to go, capping a decisive 11-0 run that began with Gray’s layup.
Lucas added a 3-pointer and a layup during that spurt and Bentley capped it with consecutive jumpers.
UTEP, the Conference USA champion, pulled as close as 63-58 on Chrishauna Parker’s layup with 7:15 to go, but the Lady Lions quickly pushed their lead back to 10 on a jumper by Bentley, a strong inside basket by Greene and Lucas’ free throw.
Kelli Willingham scored 11 points for the Miners, who managed to keep their deficit below double digits for much of the remainder of the game, but never seriously threatened again.
UTEP got off to a quick start and led 34-27 on Willingham’s 3 late in the first half.
Right after that, though, Lucas’ 3 ignited a 12-2 run capped by Greene’s free throws that gave Penn State a brief lead before Nash’s basket sent the teams into halftime tied at 39.