STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Maggie Lucas scored 17 points, and No. 8 Penn State withstood a second-half rally by No. 13 Purdue with defense to reclaim sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with a 69-61 victory Monday night.
After struggling in the first half, 6-foot-4 center Nikki Greene (six points, nine rebounds) gave the Lady Lions (18-3, 8-1) an interior presence in the game’s final 6:39, when Penn State finished off the Boilermakers (18-4, 7-2) with a 12-6 run.
Purdue had narrowed a 12-point deficit to 57-55 before going the next five-plus minutes without a field goal.
Lucas and backcourt mate Alex Bentley (13 points) took advantage in a chippy game to get the lead back to double digits in the final minutes.
Courtney Moses (21 points) scored six points in a 13-second span to get within 67-61 with 1:05 left, but Bentley helped Penn State hold on with a bucket and steal.
NO. 14 TEXAS A&M 74, LOUISIANA STATE 57
In Baton Rouge, La., Kelsey Bone scored 21 points to lead Texas A&M (18-5, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) past Louisiana State.
Danielle Ballard had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers (13-9, 4-5).
AP POLL: Baylor remains No. 1 in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll for a fifth straight week after cruising to two more Big 12 wins.
The Lady Bears had easy victories over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State and have 32 straight Big 12 regular-season wins. Baylor had 37 first-place votes Monday and will host Kansas before visiting Texas this week.
The first six stayed unchanged with Notre Dame, Connecticut, Stanford, Duke and California following the Lady Bears. UConn got the other three first place votes.
Maryland moved up three spots to seventh while Penn State, Georgia and Kentucky round out the first 10. The Lady Bulldogs moved up four spots after beating the Wildcats.
CONNECTICUT: Backup point guard Brianna Banks will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right leg.
Banks suffered the injury during the first half of the Huskies’ 71-65 victory over St. John’s on Saturday.