BATON ROUGE, La. -- Maggie Lucas launched a rainbow 3-pointer as time expired in the first half, then let out a yell and pumped her right fist as the shot went through to give Penn State its first double-digit lead against NCAA tournament newcomer Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
If that shot wasn't enough to send the third-seeded Nittany Lions off and running, a stern halftime lecture by coach Coquese Washington was.
Lucas finished with 19 points, Alex Bentley added 18 and Penn State overwhelmed the Mustangs in the second half for an 85-55 victory in a first-round game Sunday night at Maravich Assembly Center.
A grinning Washington said the emotional lift of Lucas' clock-beating 3 at the half was "short-lived after we walked into the locker room."
"We talked about the other 19:55 of the half," Washington said. "We did a better job defensively in the second half in containing the ball and contesting shots and making them take tough shots.
"It took us a few minutes to adjust to their little guards' shiftiness and their speed. Once we adjusted and did a better job of keeping them in front of us, things seemed to work out better for us."
While the dynamic Lucas scored from all over the court, Penn State (26-5) also used its size advantage to assert itself inside on both ends.
The 6-foot-2 Mia Nickson, 6-3 Talia East and 6-4 Nikki Greene combined for 33 rebounds, and the Nittany Lions outrebounded Cal Poly, 52-40. Penn State outscored the Mustangs, 44-28, in the paint.
"They're just some big mommas, and the big mommas were throwing us around like rag dolls," Cal Poly coach Faith Mimnaugh said. "It seemed like a little unfair of a fight, to be honest."
Nickson finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, Greene scored 11 points and East grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots for Penn State, which plays again Tuesday in the second round.
"We did a great job [inside] and kind of took the game over, especially on defense," Nickson said. "It kind of changed the momentum."
Molly Schlemer led Cal Poly (21-11), the Big West champs and No. 14 seed in the Spokane Region, with 24 points, but after scoring 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting the first 10 minutes, she had to work harder for her shots and missed seven of her final 13.
"It's completely different from our conference because I'm the biggest in our conference by a long shot," Schlemer said. "They pushed us around -- strong bodies. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before."
Jonae Ervin added 10 points and was the only other player to score in double digits for Cal Poly, which was held to 27.9 percent shooting (19 for 68).
First Published March 25, 2013 4:00 AM