STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Nikki Greene had 25 points and 15 rebounds to help No. 11 Penn State beat No. 8 Ohio State 84-66 on Monday night, clinching at least a share of its first Big Ten title since 2004.
Mia Nickson also had a double-double with 18 points and 15 boards. She and Greene combined for 25 points and 19 rebounds alone in the first half as the Lady Lions (22-5, 11-3) built a 15-point halftime lead.
It was more than enough cushion against the Buckeyes (23-4, 10-4), who never got closer than 13 the rest of the way. Penn State also clinched the top seed in the conference tournament, which starts next week in Indianapolis.
Samantha Prahalis had 16 points and eight assists for Ohio State.
But Monday belonged to Lady Lions, who outrebounded the Buckeyes 60-32.
Maggie Lucas added 12 points and 10 rebounds, the first time that Penn State had three players with double-doubles since 2008.
Their loyal fans celebrated in the stands, waving white pom-poms. Happy Valley hasn't celebrated a conference title in eight seasons, when Rene Portland coached Penn State.
"We are ... Penn State," exclaimed the fans with 1 minute left and the Lady Lions leading by 18. The pep band then broke out into an impromptu rendition of the alma mater while Penn State brought the ball up one last time.
Off-court issues forced Portland out in 2007. Coquese Washington took over, needing five seasons to get the program back atop the Big Ten.
Her star backcourt of Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas, who combine to average nearly 25 points a game, often draw much of the attention.
But it was Greene and Nickson who led the first-half charge against Ohio State.
Greene had a double-double in the first half alone with 16 points and 10 boards. She showed a lethal combination of muscle and athleticism after grabbing two rebounds on the offensive end with 3:50 left in the first half, deftly stepping around a defender on the baseline for a layup and a 37-26 lead.
They didn't stop hustling in the second half even with the game well in hand.
After missing a layup, Nickson tapped the loose ball to the backcourt, where Lucas picked it up and found Greene. She posted up for another easy bucket and a 74-54 lead with 6:19 left.
All five Penn State starters scored in double digits.
Tayler Hill had 16 points for the Buckeyes, while Kalpana Beach added 12.