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No. 23 Michigan falls to No. 8 Penn State 59-49

  • Article by: NOAH TRISTER
  • Associated Press
  • January 21, 2013 - 9:02 PM

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Rachel Sheffer barely seemed to remember that she had surpassed 1,000 points for her career.

Despite the Michigan forward's best efforts, it was a tough night for the Wolverines.

"It's a great honor, but it's just one statistic," Sheffer said. "It will be cool to look back on, but it means nothing to me right now."

Sheffer finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but the 23rd-ranked Wolverines had their 10-game winning streak snapped Monday night when they lost 59-49 to No. 8 Penn State.

Maggie Lucas scored 19 points and Alex Bentley added 16 to help the Lady Lions take over sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

The Lady Lions (15-2, 5-0 Big Ten) and Wolverines (15-3, 4-1) were the only teams in the league without a conference loss. Michigan kept it close before Penn State went on a late 12-0 run.

Sheffer had some success inside, reaching her milestone in the first half, but the Wolverines had nobody else in double figures. Michigan shot 6 of 26 from 3-point range.

"It was a quality team, and they just wore us out," Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "I guess that's why they're probably No. 8 and we're probably No. 23, because they had 4 more minutes in them than we did."

Michigan's 10-game winning streak had equaled a school record. The Lady Lions have won nine straight.

Penn State led 47-46 before holding Michigan scoreless for over 6 minutes.

The Lady Lions played much of the second half without 6-foot-4 Nikki Greene, who was in foul trouble. But the Wolverines, who entered shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc on the season, couldn't take advantage.

"We just didn't want to give them open shots. When they get open shots, they are a fantastic team," Lady Lions coach Coquese Washington said. "We wanted to get them off the 3-point line and wanted to contest shots."

Mia Nickson scored twice on moves inside during Penn State's decisive run, and when Bentley connected from the perimeter it was 55-46. The Lady Lions stayed aggressive on defense even as fouls mounted, keeping Michigan from finding a rhythm from 3-point range.

"It was an emphasis, because they're a great shooting team," Lucas said. "We were trying to spy — especially Kate Thompson, because she's a great shooter."

Thompson finished 3 of 16 from the field — 3 of 14 from 3-point range.

Penn State had barely been challenged recently in Big Ten play, beating Michigan State by 21 points, Nebraska by 22 and Wisconsin by 44 before Monday's game in Ann Arbor. The Lady Lions started impressively in this one too, going on an early 15-0 run capped by Dara Taylor's driving three-point play that made it 17-8.

Michigan pulled back within a point, but Penn State closed the half on an 8-1 run and led 32-24.

"They definitely bring the pressure a lot. They have three really quick guards that come in and they just hound you for days," Wolverines guard Jenny Ryan said. "I think that it's a good learning experience for us."

Michigan scored the first eight points of the second half, a run that began 29 seconds in when Greene picked up her third foul and left the game. Greene was called for a flagrant foul when she caught Sheffer around the neck and jaw with her left elbow.

After tying the game at 32, Michigan took a 35-34 lead on a 3-pointer by Thompson. Greene came back in the game and gave the Lady Lions a boost, but only briefly. She was called for her fourth foul and then left the game with 12:17 to play and Penn State up 40-35.

Even with Greene out, the Wolverines never did take the lead again. Lucas hit a 3-pointer off a nifty crossover move to put Penn State ahead 43-37.

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