Maggie Lucas scored 22 points, backcourt mate Alex Bentley added 20 and No. 7 Penn State overwhelmed Illinois in transition in a 95-62 win Wednesday night at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa., moving a step closer to consecutive Big Ten Conference regular-season titles.
The Lady Lions (22-3, 12-1) built a 21-point lead by halftime after shooting 58 percent in the first half. Penn State had a two-game lead on second-place Nebraska entering the game, with three games left on the Lady Lions' schedule after the win against the Illini.
Adrienne GodBold had 17 points for foul-plagued Illinois (15-10, 8-5). The Lady Lions outraced the Illini to the basket on the break, 18-6.
Penn State didn't let up down the stretch and led by as much as 27 early in the second half.
The Lady Lions went on a 49-26 run over the final 15 minutes of the first half to seize control.
Penn State's balanced attack featured 13 points and seven rebounds from forward Mia Nickson and 11 points from guard/forward Ariel Edwards. The Lady Lions also got 10 blocks, including four from Tori Waldner and three from freshman Candace Agee.
Illinois coach Matt Bollant managed to get his team settled in the second half, but the Illini could get no closer than 19 with 7:42 left to play.
Karisma Penn finished with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 5 rebounds, but spent chunks of the game on the bench with foul trouble. Ivory Crawford had 10 points before also fouling out with 9:17 left.
Illinois, which was off to its best start in conference play since 1999-00, stumbled in a chance for a season-defining win on the road. The Illini haven't won in Happy Valley since 1998.
More Top 25
• South Florida 73, Louisville 62: Andrea Smith tied a career-high with 35 points and the visiting Bulls (18-7, 7-5 Big East) upset the No. 12 Cardinals (21-6, 9-4). Inga Orekhova added 13 points for South Florida.
• Indiana 62, Purdue 61: Jasmine McGhee scored 26 points, including the game-winning basket with 1 second remaining, as the host Hoosiers (11-15, 2-11 Big Ten) knocked off the No. 22 Boilmakers (19-7, 8-5).
• TCU 64, Oklahoma State 63: Delisa Gross hit the game-winning shot with 1:04 remaining and the host Horned Frogs (8-17, 1-13 Big 12) closed the game on an 11-0 run, defeating the No. 23 Cowgirls (18-7, 7-7).
First Published February 21, 2013 5:15 AM