BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Maggie Lucas scored 19 points, Alex Bentley added 18 and third-seeded Penn State overwhelmed NCAA women's tournament newcomer Cal Poly 85-55 in a first-round game Sunday night.
While the dynamic Lucas scored from all over the court, Penn State (26-5) also used its size advantage to assert itself inside on both ends.
The 6-foot-2 Mia Nickson, 6-3 Talia East and 6-4 Nikki Greene combined for 33 rebounds, and the Lady Lions outrebounded Cal Poly 52-40 overall.
Penn State outscored the Mustangs 44-28 in the paint.
Nickson finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, Greene scored 11 points and East grabbed 12 rebounds for Penn State, which plays Tuesday against the winner of Sunday night's LSU-Green Bay game.
Molly Schlemer led Cal Poly (21-11), the 14th seed in the Spokane Region, with 24 points.
Jonae Ervin added 10 points and was the only other player to score in double digits for Cal Poly, the Big West champion, which was held to 27.9 percent shooting (19 for 68).
Penn State led by 10 at halftime and began to blow the game open with a 11-0 run in the second half that made it 59-36 on Lucas' steal and fast-break layup with less than 12 minutes to go. The lead grew to 30 on Bentley's layup with 5:39 to go and the result was never in doubt after that.
Cal Poly was able to put up resistance early on by working the ball inside to 6-foot-5 Schlemer. She hit five of her first six shots and a pair of free throws to give her 12 of the Mustangs' first 15 points.
Cal Poly held a 15-12 lead at that point, but Bentley hit jumpers from near the foul line and baseline, initiating a Penn State 15-2 run that gave the Lady Lions the lead for good. The surge included a backcourt steal by Lucas that she converted into a layup, a pair of layups by Edwards, Nickson's short turnaround in the lane and a difficult running floater in traffic by Lucas that made it 27-17.
The run occurred while Schlemer was on the bench, but when she returned, she found her shots tougher to get and did not score the rest of the half. Despite shooting only 23.5 percent (8 for 34) in the opening 20 minutes, Cal Poly was able to keep its deficit in single digits most of the way until Lucas unleashed a rainbow 3 at the horn, letting out a yell and pumping her right fist as it went through to make it 38-28.