Published Saturday, January 12, 2013 AT 9:40 PM / Updated at 9:40 PM
Women’s Basketball: Nebraska at Penn State
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.
TV: ESPN2
Radio: 107.3 FM in Lincoln, 93.3 FM in Omaha

STARTING LINEUPS

Penn State (12-2, 2-0)
C, Nikki Greene, 6-4, Sr., 8.3
F, Mia Nickson, 6-2, Sr., 8.5
G, Dara Taylor, 5-8, Jr., 7.7
G, Alex Bentley, 5-7, Sr., 12.2
G, Maggie Lucas, 5-10, Jr., 20.5

Nebraska (12-4, 2-1)
F, Hailie Sample, 6-1, So., 5.5
F, Emily Cady, 6-2, So., 9.5
F, Jordan Hooper, 6-2, Jr., 18.4
G, Lindsey Moore, 5-9, Sr., 15.5
G, Rachel Theriot, 6-0, Fr., 4.4

Scouting PSU: The Lady Lions are the deepest, most complete team in the Big Ten. Maggie Lucas is perhaps the nation’s most efficient shooter, making 52.9 percent of her 3-pointers and 87.1 percent of her free throws. Alex Bentley, the preseason Big Ten player of the year, is an elite defender, averaging nearly four steals per game. Her speed creates opportunities for teammates. PSU’s front line of Mia Nickson and Nikki Greene — with Ariel Edwards, Candice Agee and Talia East coming off the bench — is full of forceful, tough rebounders. All of the Lady Lions can rebound — they average 15.4 offensive rebounds per game. But outside of Lucas, there isn’t a good shooter in the bunch. And only Lucas consistently hits 3-pointers. So while Penn State’s athletic quotient is off the charts, a team like Northwestern, which lost to Indiana, hung around and lost by four. The Lady Lions rely heavily on their transition and athleticism to overwhelm opponents — they’re happy to trade three baskets for two — but if Nebraska’s defense can get some stops, the Huskers could pull the same upset they did last year.

Scouting NU: The Huskers’ lack of depth in the frontcourt hurts them in a game like this. If Penn State slows the pace and pounds the ball into Nickson and Greene, Nebraska will either have to overcompensate to defend the lane or hope that the Lady Lion duo misses shots. On the perimeter, the Huskers more than match up. Lindsey Moore can take Bentley head-on in a battle of the league’s best point guards, and Moore could have the edge. Jordan Hooper, who scored 31 points in a win at Penn State last December, doesn’t mind a fast-paced game. And freshman Rachel Theriot seems to be evolving into a more complete player after a 14-point effort at Indiana. If Theriot continues to hit the mid-range jumper she gets when defenders collapse on Moore and Hooper, NU will be hard to beat, because Theriot is a natural passer. If defenses adjust to her, she’ll find open shots for Hooper and Moore.

The skinny: Ultimately, Sunday’s game boils down to whether Penn State has the discipline and patience to slow down its transition and pound the ball inside, and whether Nebraska can adequately defend Nickson and Greene if that happens. Lucas, Bentley, Moore and Hooper will all get their points. It’s their supporting casts who will decide the game.

Opening tips: Husker center Adri Maurer retired from basketball this week because of chronic back pain. … Sophomores Emily Cady and Hailie Sample will make their 50th consecutive starts Sunday. … Moore is seven assists short of 600. … PSU leads the series 3-1 after a 1-1 split last year.

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at sam.mckewon@owh.com. And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.