- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Florida’s return to the NCAA tournament has it longing for a deeper run the next time.

The Gators expect to be back soon.

“It just continues to generate a high expectation for our program,” coach Amanda Butler said. “It’s just huge, huge strides being in the position that we’re in.”

The Gators will have to wait another year to build on this season’s flirtation with the Sweet 16. Maggie Lucas and Dara Taylor each scored 22 points to send Penn State into the regional with a 83-61 win over Florida on Tuesday night.

Kayla Lewis led the 11th-seeeded Gators (20-13) with 20 points and nine rebounds. Jaterra Bonds scored 14.

“They pressured us up,” Lewis said. “We turned the ball over a little bit too much.”

The third-seeded Lady Lions (24-7) will play at No. 2 Stanford (30-3) on Sunday.

Lucas, the two-time Big Ten player of the year, surpassed the 2,500 career-point milestone and led the Lady Lions to the NCAA tournament regional semifinal for the second time in three seasons.

Lucas planted a kiss on the Penn State logo, one final imprint on her home court.

She was the last Lady Lion to sprint toward the locker room, pumping her fist for the final time in front of her fans.

“That we’re able to share it with the fans, it’s just a whole better feeling,” Lucas said. “It’s a great way to go out of the Bryce Jordan Center.”

Moments after the final horn sounded, Lucas ran toward the fans and let loose a yell a season in the making.

“Let’s gooooo!”

Ariel Edwards added 16 points for Penn State. The Lady Lions are in the Sweet 16 for the 13th time.

“It’s just sweet,” coach Coquese Washington said. “It’s like dark chocolate with caramel sweet.”

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