UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - They've
traveled over the hills and through the woods, but the Lady Lions have one more
stop on the non-conference road schedule. Penn State will venture another 736
miles to Blacksburg, Va. to square off with the Hookies of Virginia Tech on
Wednesday evening inside Cassell Coliseum.
The Lions enter the meeting with a 7-2 overall mark and are coming off of a 97-74 victory over Georgetown last Sunday at home. The Hokies are 4-3 on the season, and enter the matchup after dropping a 65-51 decision at Richmond last Wednesday. The all-time series between the two schools stands at 2-0 in favor of the Lady Lions. Penn State claimed a 66-28 win last season at the BJC and claimed a 61-48 decision in Blacksburg in 2004.
A Physical Challenge
It was a question that Marc Summers of Double Dare uttered many times from 1986-1993, but was one way that head coach Coquese Washington summed up the way that Penn State had to handle their non-conference schedule. Summers would famously ask contestants if they wanted to take a physical challenge on the popular game show and the Lady Lions challenge this season has been one that tested their physical and mental strengths.
Penn State has played in venues all over the United States, traveling over 12,000 miles in just the first five weeks of this college basketball season. They have made stops in the Lone Star State, the Golden State, South Beach, Storrs, Conn. and will close out their non-conference road schedule in Blacksburg, Va. The Lady Lions haven't run into any goop or gak in their travels like the contestants on Double Dare, but the opponents have presented some sticky situations that Washington thinks has helped them develop their style of play.
"You're not always going to get a win," Washington said, "but (our schedule) has taught us a lot. I think our non-conference schedule has prepared for what we are going to face in Big Ten play."
I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
Maggie Lucas wasn't born when ZZ Top's hit reached its peak at No. 20 on the Billboard charts, but last week she might as well have been rollin' down the court on some cool blue Nikes. The junior arrived on the national scene as a rookie, but she is making national headlines again after averaging 27 points per game last week.
The junior guard added 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 3.5 steals in a pair of games, while setting the Bryce Jordan Center scoring record with 39 points versus the Hoyas. Her 39 points vs. the Hoyas are tied for the third-most points in a game by a Lady Lion player overall (Angie Potthoff vs. Indiana, 1/10/97), as she connected on 11-for-21 shots from the field and converted on 7-of-13 three-point attempts en route to her third career game with 30 or more points.
She added 15 points at UConn to begin the week and for her efforts Lucas was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week and earned the Ann Myers Drysdale National Player of the Week from the United State Basketball Writers Association.
The Non-Con Experience
It's not every season that a head coach will beef up their non-conference schedule to feature road tests against an annual national championship contender, a perennial top-15 squad and a include a pair of games at ACC contenders. However, Coquese Washington is not most head coaches.
The sixth year sideline boss commented to members of the media on Tuesday that she feels the tough non-conference road schedule has shown her team a thing or two about themselves. The Lady Lions have been in a position to win nearly all of their non-conference games and the hostel atmospheres and quality opponents can only help them down the stretch in Big Ten Play.
Now, only one final non-conference road opponent awaits in Virginia Tech. The Hokies have already defeated a Big Ten opponent this season, beating Wisconsin at home as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but fell to Michigan State in East Lansing early in the season.
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-- NITTANY LIONS --