NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The No. 6 Penn State Lady Lions (4-0) used a strong first half from Ariel Edwards and a stellar second frame from Maggie Lucas to top Detroit 80-72 in the first round of the Radisson Hotel Chatsworth Thanksgiving Tournament.
Penn State will now face the winner of the Cal State Northridge-South Alabama game for the championship Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (ET).
Edwards had a career-high 24 points, including 19 tallies in the first half, via an11-for-16 shooting performance. She surpasses her previous career mark of 17 points, set against Iowa on Jan. 22. Lucas collected her 33rd career 20-point game with 28 tallies, 22 of which came after the halftime break. Lucas was 8-for-14 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. She also accounted for four rebounds, three assists and three steals in the win.
For the second-straight game, all 10 Lady Lions were in the scoring column. Nikki Greene was solid with six points, seven rebounds, two blocks and three assists, which ties her career high. Fellow senior Mia Nickson added six first half points and four rebounds.
The Lady Lions jumped out to the early 11-4 lead in the first three minutes on the backs of Edwards and Nickson, who had seven and four points, respectively, in the opening run. After several exchanges of scores made the score 15-8, the Titans went on a 13-4 run to take a 21-19 lead with just over 10 minutes toplay.
The squads would exchange scores until back-to-back buckets by Gizelle Studevent and Edwards to give the Lions a 27-25 lead with 6:26 left. However, the Titans would score the game's next seven points to take a 32-27 lead with five minutes remaining in the half. The teams continued to swap baskets until Edwards kicked off a 10-2 run with a jumper with 2:45 on the clock. The run, which also featured scores by Tori Waldner , Talia East, Edwards and Lucas sent the Lady Lions into the locker room with a 42-38 advantage.
Penn State carried the momentum from the end of the first half over into the second half with a 7-2 run to open the frame thanks to four points by Lucas and a three-point play by Edwards to give the Lady Lions a 49-40 lead with 17:18 remaining. Detroit closed within six (51-45) after scoring five of the game's next seven points, but Penn State responded with an old-fashioned three-point play by Dara Taylor and buckets by Alex Bentley and Edwards to take a 58-45 lead with 12:42 on the clock.
The Titans would not quit, clicking off an 8-2 run to close within seven (60-53) with less than 10 minutes to play. Penn State pushed the lead back to 12 thanks to a layup by Candice Agee and a three by Lucas with 7:25 remaining. The Titans sandwiched a pair of baskets around a Lucas bucket to make it a 67-57 lead, but a layup by Greene and two freebies by Lucas extended the lead back to 12 (71-57) with 2:46 on the clock.
Detroit would once again close the gap with a 12-2 run to slice the lead to just four (73-69) with 1:14 on the clock. Lucas hit a three to push the gap to seven and the teams would exchange free throws for the remainder of the half for the 80-72 Lady Lion win.
Notes: Junior guard Maggie Lucas recorded her 33rd career 20-point game with 28 tallies ... Junior Ariel Edwards had a career-high 24 points, surpassing her previous personal best of 17 points set against Iowa on Jan. 22, 2012 With two blocks, senior center Nikki Greene moved into a tie for fourth place on Penn State's career rejections list with Andrea Garner (185; 1997-00) Penn State starts 4-0 for the second time under Coquese Washington and the second time in the last three seasons The Lady Lions are now 2-0 all-time against Detroit.