It’s not every season that players like Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas come around. Both guards can get up and down the floor quickly and put up points on the scoreboard.
Some coaches can only dream to have one dynamic scorer that can reach the 1,500-point scoring plateau in their career, but Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington has two of them. And Bentley and Lucas are still continuing their climb up the scoring ladder.
Bentley, a senior, currently sits 11th all-time in Lady Lions’ history with 1,525 points, while junior Lucas is close behind. Her pair of made free throws at the 5:30 mark of the second half in the No. 8 Lions‘ (13-2, 3-0 Big Ten) 80-58 win against Nebraska on Sunday moved her into 13th place all-time. She currently sits at 1,500 points for her career and is only the 13th Lady Lion ever to reach that mark.
Last season Lucas became just the third sophomore to reach the 1,000 point scoring mark and her 306 points this season have her on pace to have the most productive scoring year of her career.
With two scorers that can come out and take over a game like Bentley and Lucas can, Washington said she knows she has something special in her arsenal every night.
“Maggie is a great scorer, she works so hard and she takes advantage of her opportunities when she gets them,” Washington said. “When you have a back court of Maggie and Alex, who are both capable and have 1,500 points, it is just a luxury as a head coach to have two people who can do that.”
So far this season, both Bentley and Lucas are in the top 20 in scoring in the Big Ten. Lucas is one of four players in the conference averaging 20 points per game and ranks third with her average of 20.4 –– one point per game better than she averaged last season.
There’s no doubt that Bentley is the main leader of the team on the floor and rightfully so, as she runs the point. Washington has said it many times in the past that the squad feeds off of Bentley and referred to her as the “engine” that carries the team.
Even though she isn’t leading the Lions in scoring, she’s doing other “little” things that ultimately can make the biggest difference. Despite being listed at 5-foot-7, the shortest player on the roster, Bentley is third on the team in rebounding with 67 boards. She also leads the conference in steals with 3.9 takeaways per game and is ninth in the Big Ten in terms of assists at 4.1 per contest.
However, arguably Bentley’s biggest contribution to the team is her energy. If she’s not seen chest-bumping Lucas after a big three-pointer, she can be heard calling out signals to her teammates, even when she’s on the bench. And she flies off the bench with excitement after one of her teammates comes up with a big block.
It’s things like Bentley’s quick hands on defense and Lucas’ ability to knock down a three-ball with a hand in her face that make playing along side of duo so enjoyable for their teammates.
“They’re great, they’re obviously the emotional leaders on this team,” redshirt junior guard Dara Taylor said. “When things are going good or bad, you can lean on them to give us a spark, give us energy and our team really feeds off of it. Once they get going, the rest of us pick up, feed off of it, and it’s really great.”