Despite Happy Valley’s frigid temperatures, someone has always seemed to be hot in the Bryce Jordan Center — yesterday it was Alex Bentley.
It took Bentley eight minutes before she turned out her second consecutive 20-point scoring game and 23rd of her career.
Bentley scored a season-high 24 points in the No. 8 Lady Lions 71-56 victory against Michigan State. The win capped a season sweep over a Michigan State team that beat them twice last season.
In her senior season, Bentley has passed the 1,500-point milestone for her Lady Lion career. With four steals last night, the point guard has eclipsed 300 for her career, becoming the fourth player in school history to accomplish the feat. She became just the fourth player in Big Ten history with more than 1,500 points, 500 assists and 300 steals.
“She’s pretty good. You know, she’s alright, I kind of like her. I’m happy she is playing for me, and playing for our team and playing for Penn State, I love coaching her,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. “She is a tremendous, tremendous competitor and I thought she had a great flow to the game. She did a great job of running the team and running the offense and did a lot of good things on defense.”
In the second half, Bentley found openings to drive the lane with 15 of her 24 points coming after the half. Seven of her nine field goals were tallied in the second half where she shot nearly 78 percent from the floor.
“You know Co[quese] just kept telling me to get in the lane, we were in the bonus there for awhile, so you know challenging me to get in the lane,” Bentley said. “The posts kept helping me out there too with their screens and their steals, so half my points really go to them.”
Bentley was able to find what Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant called “her shot” — the left-to-right pull-up jumper from the free throw line in the second half. All of her points came from inside the arc, including six points from the foul line.
The Spartans’ physical defense did not allow for much room for Bentley to drive early. But as she wore the defense down, Bentley created space for herself.
“She broke us down to the middle at the free throw line, which in the first half we weren’t letting her get there,” Merchant said. “We had done a good job of keeping her to the sideline, but her and Lucas were able to break us down to the middle. We just weren’t focused, especially late in the shot clock she hit a couple fade aways.”