Maggie Lucas scored 24 points as No. 14 Penn State beat Illinois 82-76 Thursday night.
Trailing 79-61 with 3:06 remaining, Illinois used a 15-1 run, capped by an Alexis Smith 3-pointer with 23 seconds left, to pull within four, 80-76, but Maggie Lucas hit a pair of free throw 15 seconds later to seal the victory for Penn State (11-3, 2-0 Big Ten).
Dara Taylor's conventional three-point play just over 2 minutes into the second half sparked a 22-5 Penn State run, giving the Lady Lions a 57-43 lead with 11:13 to play. They led by as many as 19.
Jacqui Grant scored 10 of her 15 points in the first half as Illinois took a 32-31 lead into the break.
Ariel Edwards scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Penn State, which overcame 27 turnovers.
Ivory Crawford had 25 points and seven assists for Illinois (7-8, 0-2).
The Illini were hot early, connecting on five of their first eight shots to establish a 12-2 lead with 15:18 left in the first.
The teams exchanged scores over the next seven minutes to keep the lead at 10 until back-to-back three-pointers from Taylor and Lucas sliced the Illinois lead to four (23-19) with seven minutes to play in the half.
Following a score by Jacqui Grant, the Lions clicked off an 8-2 run to end the first half and closed the gap.
Taylor started the run with a layup, followed by two free throws by Edwards.
After a bucket by Mackenzie Piper, Whitted and Edwards each connected on two freebies to send the Lions into the locker room trailing by a single point, 32-31.
Edwards drove the lane for the layup on the opening possession of the second half to give Penn State its first lead of the game at 33-32.
The Lady Lions open the home portion of their Big Ten slate Sunday against Purdue.