Updated at: 02/10/2013 4:08 PM
(AP) STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Alex Bentley scored 24 points and Maggie Lucas added 19 as eighth-ranked Penn State beat No. 23 Michigan State 71-56 on Sunday to win its 18th straight home game and build a two-game lead in the Big Ten Conference.
Nikki Greene had 13 points for Penn State (20-3, 10-1), which closed the first half with a 21-7 run to take a five-point lead and opened the second half with another 21-7 run to build a 19-point margin.
Bentley continued her climb through the Penn State record books by becoming only the fourth Penn State player to make 300 steals and the fourth player in the Big Ten to score 1,500 points, record 500 assists and have 300 steals in a career.
Annalise Pickrel scored 16 points for Michigan State (18-6, 6-4).
Penn State’s point total marked just the third time this season that Michigan State yielded more than 70 points. Penn State scored 76 on the Spartans in a Jan. 6 game at Michigan State (76-55). Sunday’s victory marks the first time since 2003-04 season that Penn State swept the Spartans
Penn State, with 20 wins, is off to its best start since the 1999-2000 season.
Missed shots and turnovers by Penn State enabled Michigan State to jump out to a 20-11 lead until defensive pressure by Penn State sparked the Lady Lions’ late first-half run.
Things got considerably worse for the Spartans as the second half began with missed shots and turnovers fueling a fast-break driven run by Penn State that widened Michigan State’s deficit to 53-34.
Michigan State closed to within eight points with 3:44 left to play but Penn State regained control with five straight points from Greene, who also pulled down six rebounds despite playing with three fouls.
Penn State’s consistent second-half defensive pressure forced Michigan State into committing 14 turnovers. The Lady Lions scored 29 points off the Spartans’ 22 turnovers overall.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)