January 2013 Archives

Men's Hoops Game Blog - FINAL: Iowa 76, Penn State 67

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IOWA CITY, Iowa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage of the Nittany Lion basketball team.

Take a look back at Penn State's 76-67 setback to Iowa on Thursday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Starting Lineups:
Penn State -
G - Marshall, G - Newbill, G - Colella, F - Taylor, F - Borovnjak
Iowa - G - Gesell, F - Basabe, F - Marble, F - White, C - Woodbury

15:29 1st Half - Penn State 10, Iowa 3
The Nittany Lions could not have asked for a better start in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.  Brandon Taylor knocked down a 3-pointer on Penn State's first possession, which fueled a 4-for-6 shooting start for the Blue and White.  Taylor also knocked down a turnaround jumper before the media timeout to put the Lions up 10-3 heading into the break.  Iowa is just 1-for-4 to start the game, and the Hawkeyes have four turnovers.  Thus far, Iowa's full court press has not been an issue for the Lions.

11:38 1st Half - Penn State 10, Iowa 10
The Hawkeyes took advantage of three Nittany Lion turnovers and turned transition opportunities into a 7-0 scoring run.  After a superb start on the offensive end of the floor, the Nittany Lions went nearly three minutes of game time without a point heading into the timeout.  Meanwhile, Iowa forward Aaron White scored seven-straight points to knot the game at 10-10.  Penn State can ill afford to turn the ball over against a team like Iowa that wants to push the ball on every possession.

7:14 1st Half - Iowa 19, Penn State 15
Iowa's scoring run stretched to 14-0 after a 3-pointer from Josh Oglesby.  Penn State went 4:40 without a point before a 3-pointer from Jermaine Marshall snapped the dry spell.  Despite the big surge from the Hawkeyes, Penn State has done a nice job battling back to keep the margin at four heading into the media timeout.  After the 4-for-6 start, the Lions went just 2-for-10.  Iowa has forced seven steals and scored eight points off of turnovers.

2:57 1st Half - Iowa 26, Penn State 19
Iowa led by as much as nine (24-15), but the Nittany Lions trimmed the deficit to within five after two free throws from Nick Colella and a basket from D.J. Newbill.  Iowa answered in the form of a turnaround jumper from center Adam Woodbury in the paint to set the scoring margin at seven.  Since the hot start, the Lions are just 3-for-15 from the field in the first half.

Halftime - Iowa 34, Penn State 26
Despite 12 turnovers, the Nittany Lions trailed Iowa by just eight at halftime.  The Nittany Lions started the game 4-for-6 from the field, but finished 5-for-21 for a 35 percent shooting half.  Iowa won the battle on the glass, 21-15, which included seven offensive rebounds.  The Hawkeyes notched nine second-chance points to zero from the Nittany Lions.  Given the circumstances, the Lions were fortunate to be down just eight at the break, but they must do a better job taking care of the basketball in the second half.  White led Iowa with 14 points in the first 20 minutes.  The Hawkeyes shot 39 percent in the first half.

15:39 2nd Half - Iowa 41, Penn State 36
Iowa opened the second half scoring with a Roy Devyn Marble basket, but the Lions answered with a much-needed spurt on the offensive end of the floor.  Like he did to open the game, Taylor triggered an 8-0 scoring spurt for the Nittany Lions to close the gap on the scoreboard to just three, 37-34.  A Newbill old-fashioned three-point play capped off the run.  Iowa came back with two Melsahn Basabe free throws, but Sasa Borovnjak notched a put-back to make it, 39-36.  Two more Basabe free throws pushed the Iowa lead back up to five.

11:32 2nd Half - Iowa 54, Penn State 41
After the Lions trimmed the margin down to three, Iowa rattled off 12 of the game's next 14 points to take its largest lead of the night at 52-38.  The start of the second half was a mirror image of the opening 20 minutes.  The Nittany Lions started strong, but went dry on the offensive end of the floor at an inopportune time.  The drought resulted in a surge from Iowa, and the Hawkeyes took control of the game, but there is a lot of basketball to be played.

7:32 2nd Half - Iowa 58, Penn State 47
After trailing by as much as 15, the Nittany Lions cut the Hawkeye lead down to single digits with two free throws from Jon Graham, a three-point play form Marshall and two foul shots from Ross Travis.  Iowa answered with a foul line jumper from Eric May to push the Hawkeye lead back up to 11.  Penn State knocked down 10 of its 12 free throw attempts, but Iowa is 22-for-26 at the foul line.

3:54 2nd Half - Iowa 66, Penn State 54
The Nittany Lions used a 5-0 scoring run, which was capped by a three from Nick Colella, to cut Iowa's lead down to 10.  At the other end of the floor, Penn State got the stop it was looking for, but Marshall was unable to convert on a contest layup.  At the other end of the floor, May tallied a lay-in and was fouled to put the margin back up at 12.  Penn State had some momentum on the offensive end of the floor, but the May bucket was a big one for Iowa.

FINAL - Iowa 76, Penn State 67
The Nittany Lions started both halves in the manner that they needed two, but they did not mount 40 minutes of consistency in their ninth-straight loss during Big Ten play.  Penn State led by as much as seven in the opening 3:24 before a 14-0 scoring run put the Hawkeyes on top.  Despite being down 11 early in the second half, the Lions mounted a charge to close within eight, but the Hawkeyes took full advantage of a huge night at the foul line.  The Hawkeyes ended the night with 31 made foul shots on 39 attempts.  The Lions shot a stellar 14-for-16 at the line, but the Hawkeyes were plus-17 in points at the charity stripe.  Additionally, the Lions committed 18 turnovers, including 12 in the first half.  White played a superb game for Iowa, finishing with 27 points.

Head coach Patrick Chambers told the media after the game that he was pleased with the way the way Penn State approached Thursday night's road game.  The Lions continued to improve inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.  No matter what the final scores read or what the Lions' record is in the Big Ten, Penn State is improving.  Consistency on both ends of the floor hindered the Lions, but the young team took another step forward with its best road outing of the season.  Penn State returns home on Tuesday for a date with Purdue.


___________________________________________________________________________________

Pregame Keys:
Penn State practiced in Carver-Hawkeye on Wednesday night, in addition to its gameday shootaround on Thursday morning.  Taking care of the basketball and making shots are two huge keys for the Nittany Lions when they meet the Hawkeyes.  Recently, the Lions have played better basketball than the final scores have indicated, especially on the defensive end of the floor.  GoPSUsports.com caught up with head coach Patrick Chambers for a couple quick remarks leading up to Thursday's tip.  Take a look.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Wright Looks Forward to Iowa Showdown

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - During the course of his decorated career at Penn State, national champion and three-time All-American Quentin Wright has become accustomed to wrestling in front of loud, passionate fans.

8382945.jpegThis weekend however, Wright will experience an atmosphere a little different than what he is used.

Instead of competing in front of the Nittany Lion faithful in a sold out Rec Hall, the senior will step inside Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a dual meet for the first time in his career.

"I'm really excited to compete there," said Wright. "It's going to be awesome being inside such a big arena and I'm looking forward to it."

While Wright has wrestled in Carver-Hawkeye for the Olympic Trials, he has yet to compete there in a dual meet against the Hawkeyes.

This Friday's meet expects to be a slightly different experience, as the arena, which holds a capacity of 15,400 people, will be filled with Iowa's exuberant fans.

Although six of the Nittany Lions eight dual meets this season have come at home in Rec Hall, Wright doesn't believe that the hostile environment will affect the team.

"We used to wrestling in front of loud crowds making a lot of noise," said Wright. "The only difference is its not going to be for us this time."

Head coach Cael Sanderson, who has had many experiences both coaching and competing inside Carver-Hawkeye, shared his wrestler's excitement and agreed with him that his team will be prepared.

"Outside of Rec Hall there's no better place to wrestle than Carver-Hawkeye," said Sanderson. "We're fortunate enough to have that kind of atmosphere at every one of our matches so I don't think it'll be that big of a deal."

Another reason that both Wright and Sanderson are excited to travel to Iowa is that it will be the team's first real big test of the season.

The Nittany Lions lowest margin of victory this season has been 23, and their highest has been 52, but they will likely be in for a much closer battle against the third-ranked team in the nation.

Despite this, Wright stated that he is looking forward to the challenge, as it has been a while since his team has faced another squad of the same caliber.

"It's always good to have tough competition swinging at you like this," said Wright. "It's fun when someone can battle you as hard as you battle them and it's a good opportunity to grow."

If Friday's match does go down to the wire, it is very possible that Wright could be the wrestler who ends up deciding the meet at the 197 weight.

That's perfectly fine by him, as the former national champion believes he is at his best when under intense pressure.

"Being in a situation like that is an opportunity to shine," said Wright. "That's where you want to be if your one of the upper weight guys."

With Penn State entering Friday's meet undefeated on the season, there's nothing Wright would like more than to keep the Nittany Lions winning streak alive against one of their rivals.

He knows that in order to do that, he and his teammates will have to be at their very best, as they were last year when they defeated Iowa 22-12 at home.

"Everybody has to continue to wrestle the way we have been but we need to focus on winning our individual matches a little more," said Wright. "The matches will be a little bit tougher and the team race might be closer so we have to stay focused."

Since this will be his last time competing against Iowa in a dual meet, the senior plans on giving his opponent his ultimate effort.

"I'm going to leave it all out on the mat," said Wright. "In a meet like this you can't leave anything behind."

Gymnasts Talk the Mental Game of Their Craft

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- When most collegiate athletes enter a game or competition, they do so with the distinct mindset to beat the opponent in front of them.

Rosenthal-Scott.jpegWhen members of the Penn State men's gymnastics team take the floor to begin a routine, however, their mindset is much different.

In that moment, there is no opponent standing across from them. All their thoughts are focused on their own actions and all eyes in the building are on them.

"When it's just you out there all you've got is your own mind," said senior Matt Chelberg. "Whatever demons and self doubts you have are what you bring out there."

With such a different and unique atmosphere, it is imperative for gymnasts to keep all negative thoughts out of their heads.

According to many of the Nittany Lions gymnasts, the key is to stay focused on the movements they need to make and the goal at hand.

"Mindset for us is all about execution," said senior Scott Rosenthal. "We try to be as pristine and perfect as we can be and make as few errors as we can."

In order to help his gymnasts develop this mentality, head coach Randy Jepson has tailored his practices to make them as similar to meets as possible.

The way Jepson sees it, if practices are run so that everyone's attention is on one person at once, his men will have little to adapt to when they step inside Rec Hall for a competition.

"We work a lot with mental preparation and I try to have the guys put themselves in a competitive setting when they're in the gym for a routine," said Jepson. "That way they can focus on what they have to do to deal with anxiety and simulate what they would do in a meet."

To help themselves maximize the competitive nature of their practices as much as possible, the Nittany Lions like to rely on repetition so that by the end of the session they can picture themselves performing the routine in a meet.

"In practice you want to put as much pressure on yourself as possible and visualize yourself competing and then do it over and over again," said Chelberg. "Then you can practice calming yourself down and staying focused on what you need to do."

While getting into a competitive attitude prior to a meet is important, it is even more important for them to stay in the same frame of mind during the course of a routine.

The worst thing a gymnast can do, according to both Chelberg and Rosenthal, is to let a mistake in the middle of a routine hinder them from finishing the event strongly.

It is a skill that must be attained not only through practice, but also through years of competition experience.

"We've all been doing gymnastics for a decade or more so we've all had to deal with fixing a routine," said Chelberg. "It's something you have to learn the hard way."

The coaching staff also does their best to identify any problems the squad has with their form so that they can enter a routine knowing what might cause them to falter.

"Most of the mistakes made are mistakes that we see often," said Jepson. "If they're able to make basic corrections early on then it should translate when they're in a meet."

Another aspect that separates gymnastics from other sports is the fact that even after someone has finished a routine, they have to wait for someone else to decide how well they've done and where they've finished.

Waiting for the judges to determine not only their score but also their opponent's score is one of the toughest tasks for any gymnast.

"It's really nerve racking to watch the scores go up knowing you have no more control," said Chelberg. "You just have to trust that you've done your job and whatever score you get is the reality of the situation."

If a score or routine doesn't go as anticipated, then a gymnast may find that their focus and mindset has really been tested.

To handle such disappointment, one must have a short memory and a desire to move forward.

"You just have to reset and leave the past in the past," said Rosenthal. "Your next event is a new meet with a new start and whatever just happened is old news."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It will be a top-five showdown inside of Rec Hall on Saturday night when the No. 1 ranked Nittany Lions host No. 5 Ohio State in a dual meet. The senior chatted with GoPSUsports.com about the team's week of training, getting healthy and what to expect on Saturday inside the historic venue on the University Park campus.



--NITTANY LIONS--

By: Sean Flanery, GoPSUsports.com Student Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a three-goal loss to Princeton on Tuesday night, the Nittany Lions are now set to prepare for their toughest home-test to date in No. 7 Mercyhurst.

Catanzariti-Micayla (2).jpegThis past Tuesday night, Penn State (7-17-1) fell to Princeton (7-12-2), in what was the first game of a five-game home stand, by a score of 3-0. In the two team's only meeting of the season, the Tigers took the lead late in the first period and never looked back. 

"To be honest, I don't think today [Tuesday] was our day," said junior goaltender Nicole Paniccia regarding the loss to Princeton.
  "It wasn't Penn State hockey, but we're ready to go hard this week and get ready for Mercyhurst."

Now, as the team moves forward, what may very well be their hardest home series of the season lies ahead.

Friday night, Penn State will welcome in-state foe No. 7 Mercyhurst University (19-5-1) to Happy Valley in the two teams' second meeting of the season. In early December, when these two teams met for the first time, the Nittany Lions fell by scores of 5-0 and 7-1. However, despite what the box scores might say, this series marked somewhat of a turning point in Penn State's season. 

In the second game of the first series, Penn State showed a lot of fight as they battled with the then-fourth ranked team in the country ending the first period dead-locked at one goal apiece. Despite eventually losing the game by a large margin, Penn State learned how to fight for an entire period even against what may be a more talented opponent. 

Since the first Mercyhurst series, Penn State has played in countless games decided by only a few goals, or less, and has showed signs of a newfound team confidence that is apparent on the scoreboard.

"Today aside, our six Division I games prior [to tonight] have been decided by one or two goals," said Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene after the Princeton loss. "Princeton is the first game at this level that we haven't had a chance to get our goalie pulled since early December, so the progress is there. We want to keep working and getting better. I'm proud of this young team. I like the way we're coming together. We want to continue to improve every day as we head into playoff time."

Currently, the team holds down the six and final seed in College Hockey America, but trails Lindenwood by a mere two points for the fifth spot. The CHA playoffs are a month away and only eight conference games separate the Lions from determining where their final seeding will be. 

"They're big, definitely," said freshman forward Micayla Catanzariti regarding the eight conference games. "The goal is to keep getting better every game and I think our main focus right now is just the end of the season; playoff time. So, I think we are going to take those games and we are just going to keep getting better and when the playoffs come around I think we are going to surprise a lot of people."

When the puck drops this Friday evening at 7 p.m. in Greenberg Ice Pavilion, the Nittany Lions may be facing-off in what is their toughest home-series of the season.

However, this series may prove to be another great learning experience for the young team, just as it was the first time around in early December. It may very well be what the Lions need to help propel them to a higher CHA Tournament seed over the next month.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Presence of Bench Being Felt as Big Ten Run Continues

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions are 7-0 in the Big Ten, number seven in the country and have three of the hottest players in the conference on their roster as they head to Madison, Wis. on Thursday looking to continue its 12 game winning streak.

Waldner-Tori.jpegThe attention is deserved for all three of those storylines, but head coach Coquese Washington and her players, especially her starters, have not neglected to emphasize perhaps the most underplayed Lady Lion storyline: the impact of the Penn State bench players.

They won't wow you in the box score, but the presence has been felt, especially in the past three games. Ariel Edwards, Talia East, Gizelle Studevent, Tori Waldner and Candice Agee have taken the floor in relief for Washington in crucial moments of games and the team hasn't missed a beat on either side of the ball.

"Our bench is coming in the game and doing more than just spelling people's minutes," said Washington. "I like our bench and what they give us. Hopefully they can continue to play with that type of confidence and continue to be impactful for us."

Starting with Studevent and Edwards, Washington has scorers coming off the bench that can score efficiently. Edwards sees a little more time on the floor because of her defensive capabilities, but has scored a combined 15 points in her last two games while logging an average of 18 minutes in the last two contests.

In the past two games Studevent has scored four points, hitting two of three shots in seven minutes against Minnesota and four points in 10 minutes against Ohio State. After struggling toward the beginning of the year, the senior guard feels as though she has gotten her confidence back.

"My shot was a little off for a while, so I just spent extra time shooting before and after practice to get it better, so going into the game I'm pretty confident," said Studevent.

As her shot has improved and Edwards has continued to thrive after moving back to the bench the Lady Lions have been able to tout five scoring threats in the backcourt as well as the defensive prowess brought by the frontcourt.

Nikki Greene has come on as of late in the frontcourt for Penn State, as has fellow senior Mia Nickson. As both of those players have developed, suddenly the defensive abilities of East Waldner and Agee have come alive as well.

Against Minnesota it was Waldner with four rebounds and a game high five blocks in only eight minutes. Three days later against Ohio State it was East with four rebounds and a team high two blocks in just 11 minutes.

For Agee, as a true freshman coming off an ankle injury, her time has been limited as of late, but against Ohio State she was able to have success in her five minutes of play with two points and three rebounds.

Once again, it's the rate of efficiency for the Lady Lion bench and simply their presence that has allowed the team to thrive.

"They're huge," said Bentley about the reserves. "We wouldn't have been able to win these games without our bench. I have been saying all year that our team is filled with depth. They all get in the box score and help us out a lot."

When these players get in the game for Penn State nothing changes on the court and quite frankly nothing changes on the Lady Lion sideline either. When the starters are in and Bentley drives to the lane for a flashy layup it is Studevent, Edwards and company that is out of their seats clapping for their teammates.

As the bench players come into the game that level of intensity coming from the bench is still there. Whether it is Bentley or Lucas or Nickson, the starters feed off of the production of the bench to garner some extra motivation.

"If you ever watch (Alex) Bentley when she's on the bench and somebody does something, you would think she was waving pompoms as big of a cheerleader she is," said Washington. "She's waiving the towel, yelling and on the verge of getting us a technical for standing up too long. Our starters certainly appreciate and value what our bench brings to the floor."

Conversely, what does that mean for the bench players when they see Bentley hyped up on the sidelines? It defines their relationships as teammates.

"It's awesome, I mean we all love each other, we have each other's backs, so it's great just to know that they have my back and they have everybody else's back," said Studevent. "Now, we're just confident and we have to be ready when they call our number."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

 

Musto Has Support From Team During Recovery

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By Sallie Sharer, GoPSUSports.com, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The women's gymnastics team hopes to welcome back freshman Samantha Musto this weekend after a leg injury on floor exercise two weeks ago which left her leaving Rec Hall for x-rays at meets end.

8524362.jpegAfter misstepping in her floor routine in the quad meet against Minnesota, Kent State, and Towson, it was not until head coach Jeff Thompson saw the signs of pain as she continued her routine and called Musto off the floor, despite her attempt to push through her performance.

Her injury was essentially a bone bruising, and has been recovering well, she said.

Musto, who hails from Mays Landing, N.J., won Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors two weeks consecutively at the beginning of the season, and has been a fundamental part of the lineup for the Lions this season.

She won the all-around competition on Jan. 12 at Illinois-Chicago, posting a score of 39.025.

Doing gymnastics at that caliber again soon is Musto's main focus, she said.

"It'll be hard to make lineups again," Musto said. "Everyone is improving. It's not going to be easy."

For Musto, her week of practice was much lighter than usual.

Easing herself back into normalcy in the gym, the young gymnast says she is motivated to get back to where she was before her injury.

When the rest of the Lions had off of practice on Wednesday, Musto was in the gym to practice. To her surprise, some of her teammates showed up to support her.

"My team is behind me 100 percent," Musto said. "I came in by myself yesterday and they all came in to support me in practice."

Head coach Jeff Thompson said some of the girls even put on their grips and swung bars while Musto was practicing.

"It really touched her that they showed up for her to support her," Thompson said.

Senior and co-captain Sharaya Musser said the team's actions spoke volumes.

"Just the fact that the whole team came in on our day off to watch Sammie really shows where this team is at," Musser said. "We all really love and support each other, and we don't just say it, we live it through our actions."

Musto is targeting to make the uneven bar lineup, but the balance beam is also still a possibility.

"I feel good," Musto said. "I'm slowly getting back into everything, adding a little more each day."

Despite her goals to compete this weekend, Thompson is more concerned with her being healthy.

"The great thing about our sport is you can lose every time you compete, and still win the national championship on the last day," Thompson said. "So, whether we beat Ohio State this weekend or not, its more important to me as a coach to have great routines and performances, and coming out healthy and more prepared for the next weekend. So if Sammie isn't ready to go, we're not going to throw her out there just to try and win."

Musto is hopeful she will perform on beam and bars this weekend against Ohio State in a double duel Saturday night in Rec Hall.

VIDEO: Wisconsin Next on Tap for Streaking Lady Lions

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It will have been two weeks since the Lady Lions claimed an 84-40 decision over Wisconsin inside the Bryce Jordan Center, but the Badgers have since claimed their first Big Ten victory. The Lady Lions are no slouch themselves, entering the weekend with the nation's third longest winning streak at 11 wins in a row.

Assistant coach Maren Walseth gives us the scouting report on the Badgers, while senior Nikki Greene gives us a look inside the mindset of the team prior to their departure for snowy Madison, Wis.






--NITTANY LIONS--

Lions Look to Carry Consistency into Ohio Series

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By Pat White GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--The Nittany Lions (10-13-0) are coming off of an emotional 3-2 victory against Michigan State at Munn Ice Arena last weekend and look to carry the momentum into their weekend series against ACHA opponent Ohio (22-5-0-1).

Olczyk-Tommy (2).jpegPenn State has suffered a few letdowns this season when coming off emotional victories, such as a loss to Division III opponent Neumann after a successful series against the US U18 National Team. After the loss to Neumann, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky questioned his team's mental toughness.

Since that loss, Penn State has appeared mentally tougher and put the Neumann game on the back burner. Gadowsky has seen an improvement in recent results and the overall swagger of the team.

"It is something that is expected for a young team to go through," Gadowsky said. "We're happy with the results since that time."

This weekend's series against Ohio will be a test to see if the Penn State has learned its lesson in not taking opponents lightly. Gadowsky stated that mental toughness is not about winning on the big stage or against future Big Ten opponents, but being mentally prepared for whatever team they face.

"You come off a big win and then you play someone you're supposed to beat," Gadowsky said, "it's a tough thing to do. It is a test of mental toughness...sometimes it's harder to beat opponents that it's harder to get up for."

Some members of the team are familiar with Ohio from playing in the ACHA. They know that they are a talented team and need to be prepared for a hard fought series. Last season the Lions were 4-0 against Ohio, but had to come back from early deficits in three of those games.

Sophomore forward Tommy Olczyk (Long Grove, Ill.) knows that Ohio is not a team to be taken lightly. He registered two goals and two assists in four games against the Bobcats last season, and stressed that the team must be mentally tough no matter who the opponent is.

"It doesn't matter that level you play, hockey is hockey," Olczyk said. "Any team has a chance to win on any given night...We played Ohio last year and they played us really tough. They are a [much] respected ACHA hockey team."

Olczyk added that there is a great hockey tradition between Penn State and Ohio with some animosity and passion between them. He is looking to the former guys on the ACHA squad, like senior George Saad (Wexford, Pa.) and junior Justin Kichhevel (Brookings, S.D.), to set the pace on Friday night in Hershey when the two teams duke it out at the Giant Center.


The Giant Center, home to the AHL's Hershey Bears, will be the sixth professional arena that the Nittany Lions have played in this season. The Nittany Lions are 4-1 when playing on a professional ice surface this season.

"I think that the atmosphere helps, especially with another game being in Pennsylvania," Olczyk said about playing at the Giant Center. "There is going to be a lot of Penn State alumni and fans. I think that will give us a little extra energy."

Two players who have excelled on the big stage this season are freshman forward David Glen (Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.) and junior Taylor Holstrom (Yorba Linda, Calif.). Both players have each tallied three goals and an assist in professional arenas, including a game-winning goal for each.

Holstrom added two goals and an assist against Michigan State last weekend and also scored the game winning goal last Saturday. Holstrom said the team elevates its game on the big stage, but aims to keep emotions in check and stay focused on the task at hand.

"I think we figured it out the hard way," Holstrom said. "We've come to practice with a little more intensity and are taking [every game] more seriously than we have in the past."

Despite not ever facing Ohio, Glen has witnessed the team's level of play drop against ACHA and Division III opponents at times this season. He wants to continue the team's recent ride of success this weekend.

"We can't take them lightly," Glen said. "We're building on mental toughness and this is part of it. We have to be prepared for every game and play our style of hockey."

Penn State will face Ohio on Friday (Feb. 1) at the Giant Center in Hershey at 7 p.m. The Nittany Lions will then return home for the second game against the Bobcats at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. Penn State has not played a game in its home rink in 18 days, its second longest road stretch of the season.

 

-NITTANY LIONS-

Nittany Lions Looking to Continue Growth at Iowa

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Regardless of what Penn State's Big Ten record reads, head coach Patrick Chambers is seeing improvement on both ends of the floor. 

The proof is in the video.

8521540.jpegBeginning on the defensive end of the floor, the Nittany Lions played with energy and effectiveness during the last two outings against top 15 teams.  Penn State held two of the Big Ten's leading scorers - Indiana's Cody Zeller and Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas - to season-lows.  Zeller scored a career-low two points last week against the Lions.  Thomas, who entered the Penn State game averaging more than 20 points per contest, finished with a season-low 11 on 4-for-13 shooting.

The Nittany Lions have rotated more efficiently, contested shots and disrupted passing lanes to play better collective team defense, and Coach Chambers and his staff have done a great job mixing up the looks Penn State is showing teams during the course of games.

In addition to the improvements defensively, Penn State rebounded the basketball very well in last week's two games.  The Lions were plus-7 in rebounding at Indiana and plus-14 against Ohio State on Saturday.  Penn State leads the Big Ten collecting 75 percent of all defensive rebounds.

Defending and rebounding are staples for the Nittany Lions to succeed in the Big Ten.  Coach Chambers says time and time again that you must get stops in the league to put yourself in a position to win.  And last week, the Nittany Lions did that.

"That is our foundation - making sure we are defending and rebounding," sophomore guard D.J. Newbill said.  "We have to stop people...We feel like if we can stop guys that gives us a chance to win any game."

The third element to the being in a position to win on a nightly basis is execution on the offensive end of the floor.  While the Lions have shot below 40 percent in their last three games, the quality of shots Penn State is earning while running its offense has been very good.  The stats don't show it, but the Lions are getting the quality looks they want.

"We are reading situations a lot better.  We are executing the pick and roll a lot better.  Our spacing is much better than it was," Newbill said.  "Before, we would be really bunched up.  Coach changed a couple things around with our driving space, and we have more space now on the court.  We are making better passes.  We are second-cutting.  The big thing is to stay active on the offensive end and keep teams on their heels."

A great deal of the credit to the execution improvement should go to Newbill.  The sophomore guard is visibly more comfortable in his role of running the show at the point.  Newbill learns from his mistakes every night, and he is putting his fellow teammates in good positions to score.  Chambers said Newbill now even has the green light to call some of the plays on offense.

The final element is for the Lions to start knocking down some of their open shots.  Penn State is long overdue to put everything together for one night on the floor.  The Lions have played very good defense, cleaned up the glass and created good looks on offense.  Now, the shots just need to start falling to push the Lions over the hump.

"Eventually, shots are going to fall for us," Newbill said.  "We are going to keep working hard."


Scouting Iowa
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffrey and Chambers were both born in Philadelphia and have strong ties to the city.  McCaffrey, who is in his third season at Iowa, played and coached at Penn.  The Hawkeyes enter Wednesday's game with a 13-7 record (2-5 in the Big Ten), including a 10-2 mark at home.  Roy Devyn Marble leads the Hawkeyes in scoring with 14.4 points per contest.  Forward Aaron White averages 13.4 tallies per game and leads the team in rebounding with 6.4 board per contest.  Freshman guard Mike Gesell scored 18 points in Iowa's 65-62 overtime setback at Purdue on Sunday.  Gesell, who has started every game for the Hawkeyes, is averaging 9.3 points per game in conference play.

After beating Northwestern (70-50) and Wisconsin (70-66), Iowa dropped two-straight road games to Ohio State (72-63) and Purdue (65-62 OT).  Iowa enters the game shooting 43 percent from the field as a team.  Additionally, the Hawkeyes are plus-4.7 in rebounding over their opponents.

Tip is set for 8 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on ESPNU Thursday at 8 p.m.


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In Game Blog: Women's Hockey vs. Princeton

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome back to in-game coverage of 2012-13 Penn State women's hockey season.  Insight and reaction will be provided by GoPSUsports.com throughout the game, so check back often as the action unfolds.

Take a look back at the Penn State (7-17-1) women's hockey contest with Princeton (7-12-2) from Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Greenberg Ice Arena. The Nittany Lions fell by a score of 3-0, but took some bright spots from the power play and another test vs. a physical Princeton team.

Today's Game in 140 Characters: Offense needs to get clicking...#PennState should continue tough D vs. #Princeton...Yoxheimer, Desorcie, Gross line needs to set tone.

Leading Lines (Starting lineups)
Nittany Lions -
RW- Gross, C- Desorcie, LW- Yoxheimer, D- Bateman, D- Jahnke, GK- Paniccia
Tigers- RW- Butler, C- Laing, LW- Butler, D- Alleva, D- Figueroa, GK- Newell

1st Period: 16:09 - Penn State 0, Princeton 0
The Tigers nearly lit the lamp just 24 seconds into the game, but a high sticking call disallowed the goal. It has been a lot of Princeton, so far, in the game and Princeton has had a couple of quality scoring chances that Nicole Paniccia has turned away, including one that hit the post. The defense is really going to have to pick up the pace or Paniccia is going to have to be big in net again for the Nittany Lions.

1st Period: 6:38 - Penn State 0, Princeton 0
Neither team has found their flow on either end, but Princeton has had a couple more nice scoring opportunities. The Tigers own a 3-2 edge in shots, but Paniccia has faced more pucks towards net than that. It is going to be the first team that can sustain possession in the others zone that will have the upper hand in this contest and Princeton has shown more of a knack for that over the first 13 minutes.

1st Period: 4:28 - Penn State 0, Princeton 1
A shot through traffic slipped past Paniccia off of a faceoff in the Nittany Lion zone. Corey Stearns won the faceoff and got the puck and Brianna Leahy found the tape of Karen McDonald, whose shot got through traffic in front of Paniccia and into the back of the net. Prior to that the Nittany Lions had a scoring chance of their own with some traffic in front of the net, when Jordin Pardoski ripped a shot from the blue line that was padded away by the Princeton keeper.

 

End of 1st Period - Penn State 0, Princeton 1
It was an even period on the stat sheet, but Princeton had more scoring opportunities in the opening 20 minutes. The Tigers had one goal disallowed by a high stick just 24 seconds into the game and another shot ricochet off the post before they lit the lamp. Pardoski and Sarah Wilkie each had nice scoring opportunities late in the period, but neither got on net. Paniccia has been solid in net, making five saves, but the Nittany Lions will need to control the puck more in the second period if they want to get back into this game. The Tigers won 11 of 17 faceoffs and controlled the puck for most of the first ten minutes before PSU was able to get some offense going.

2nd Period: 19:21 - Penn State 0, Princeton 2
Princeton was denied a goal under a minute into the opening period, but Sally Butler was not going to let a minute pass before the Tigers extended their lead in the second period. Butler gathered the rebound in front of the net and found an opening to put the visitors up by two goals. The recently stout Penn State backline has given up their fair number of good scoring chances today.

2nd Period: 14:00  - Penn State 0, Princeton 2
Paniccia has kept this game at a two-goal deficit with some stellar play under heavy fire from Princeton. The Nittany Lions have had some nice offensive rushes against the Tigers, but the inability to connect on passes had limited their opportunities. The shot count is 18-5 in favor of Princeton, but PSU has won four of the seven faceoffs this period, which has helped to give them some consistency on the ice.

2nd Period: 7:21 - Penn State 0, Princeton 2
Taylor Gross is going to sleep well tonight and it is only the second period. Wearing the Captain's "C" on her chest, Gross has been all over the ice for the Nittany Lions, but her effort needs a little help if the Lions are going to get back into this game. It seems that everything the Lions get the puck deep in the PU zone there's a misconnect and the rush begins the other way. The faceoff circle continues to be controlled by PSU this half, with the Lions winning 9 of 16 bouts in the circle. The first power play of the game will go to Princeton as Emily Laurenzi was called for hooking.

End of 2nd Period - Penn State 0, Princeton 2
A power play for each side netted no scoring, but Penn State logged four their seven shots in the period with the player advantage. Shannon Yoxheimer had three of the four shots on the power play, with one clanking off the post, but it was Paniccia who continues to stand tall in net for the Blue and White. The junior made 13 saves in the second period to hold the Tigers lead to just two goals. We knew coming into the game that Penn State's offense would have to account for at least two goals to win, but now it faces a tall test if it wants to extend its home ice winning streak. Penn State ended the period. Penn State won 11 of 23 faceoffs in the period, up from four of 11 in the opening frame.

3rd Period: 13:28 - Penn State 0, Princeton 2
The clock is not Penn States friend right now, as the Nittany Lions need to make the best of their scoring chances over the final 13-plus minutes. No shots in the third period for PSU, while Princeton has four shots. The Tigers have moved the puck well in the Nittany Lion zone and Penn State has not been able to counter with much of a rush.

3rd Period: 10:44 - Penn State 0, Princeton 3
Penn State had a chance to pull within one, but Kimberly Newell stoned the initial shot and the follow. Gross took a shot from the wing, which Newell saved, but couldn't control, and Yoxheimer had a hack at it in front, but Newell skirted it away with her pad and eventually covered for a faceoff.  After winning the faceoff, Princeton came right down the ice and Molly Contini did what PSU couldn't, score on the rebound. That goal made it a three goal game with just over 10 minutes to play in the game.

3rd Period: 5:00 - Penn State 0, Princeton 3
The Nittany Lions had their chance to get back into the game with a 5v3 power play and they threw everything they had at Newell, but to no avail. Yoxheimer had a shot that was saved, while Hannah Hoenshell's initial wrist shot was saved and Laurenzi's rebound attempt was smothered by the Princeton keeper to keep the Tigers lead at three goals. Penn State has been better in the offensive zone in the third period, but PU keeps the pressure turned up on the other end, as well.

FINAL - Penn State 0, Princeton 3
It just wasn't Penn State's night. The Nittany Lions nearly fell behind in the opening minute of the game and Princeton controlled the puck for the majority of the contest and tallied one goal in each period. Nicole Paniccia was a bright spot again for PSU, regardless of the three goals allowed, as she made 27 saves.

The power play was impressive, even though the Lions couldn't come away with any goals, as the team generated ten shots. Freshman Shannon Yoxheimer had three shots on the first power play in the game, including a blast the glanced off the post and went wide of the net.

The offensive pressure picked up throughout the game, with more shots taken as the periods progressed. Even though no one lit the lamp for Penn State, the Nittany Lions saw their persistence pay off against a very physical Princeton team and clogged the middle of the ice, making breakouts and crisp passing tougher.

The next test comes this weekend when No. 7 Mercyhurst visits Greenberg Ice Arena for a pair of games. The Lakers sit atop the College Hockey America standings and is 19-5-1 entering the matchup with PSU.


Quick Change Press Conference Quotes

"I don't thing today was our day. That wasn't Penn State hockey. We are ready to go hard this week and get better for this weekend vs. Mercyhurst. We just have to put this behind us and get ready for Mercyhurst."

- Junior Nicole Paniccia

"We really had to use our strength tonight. They were taking away our breaks so we really had to be tough out there tonight."
- Freshman Shannon Yoxheimer

"The power play was really good today. We had a lot of chances on the power play, but it just wasn't our day. The puck bounces your way some days and today it didn't."
-Freshman Shannon Yoxheimer

"I think in a lot of ways it was a tale of two, or even three different hockey games. I saw some good intensity and effort out of our girls...and that is our motive moving forward. We need to improve out consistency as we move into the final portion of our schedule."
- Head coach Josh Brandwene

"I am happy with the chances we had. We had some good chances on the power play and controlled the puck nicely. We just have to get better at controlling the puck consistently."
- Head coach Josh Brandwene

"We are looking for more pushback after our opponents score. I wasn't thrilled with our pushback immediately following the second goal, but I was happy with the way we played out the second period."
- Head coach Josh Brandwene

"We were poised and had good puck movement. We had some good chances on the power play. We worked on a lot of those things in practice this morning  and it was great to see that our girls are still learning."
- Head coach Josh Brandwene

"We've made so much progress since October...I am so happy with our progress. We want to be playing our best hockey at the end of the year going into the playoffs. We are really looking forward to it. I want us to be aggressive and be consistent. I want our players to have fun playing hockey."
- Head coach Josh Brandwene
                     


What To Look For:

- The Nittany Lions will look to continue their stellar play on defense on Tuesday vs. Princeton, but will look to the offense to ultimately win this contest. Penn State has allowed just eight goals in their last four matches, but has tallied just two goals in those contests.

- Freshman Shannon Yoxheimer continues to pace the squad in points (24) and goals (12) during her rookie campaign, while sitting second on the team in assists (12). Jill Holdcroft has tallied the second most goals on the team (8), while junior captain Taylor Gross tops the team charts with 14 assists. Freshman Hannah Hoenshell is third on the team with seven goals, playing in just 18 of the team's 24 games.

- The two teams are comparative this season, not only in record but on the stat sheet, as well. Penn State enters with a mark of 7-16-1, while Princeton is 6-12-2 overall. Both teams have allowed more goals than they have scored and both have been sub-par on the power play this year. The Nittany Lions are averaging more goals scored per game, 2.3-2.1, and allow fewer goals a game, 3.0-3.4. With two more games under their belt than the Tigers, Penn State still has a decisive edge in total goals at 56-42.


 - Penn State can really help themselves over the final few weeks of the regular season and head into the College Hockey America Tournament on a high note. The Lions currently sit in sixth in the CHA with three points, but play Lindenwood (5th, 5 pts), Robert Morris (4th, 13 pts) and RIT (3rd, 14 pts) in the closing weeks. They will kick off their final month of the year with a two-game series with Mercyhurst, the top ranked squad in the CHA, next weekend at home.

 

VIDEO: This Week In Penn State Wrestling - Jan. 29

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Leading up to Penn State's trip to Iowa and Illinois for two marquee duals, GoPSUsports.com sat down with Nittany Lion senior Bryan Pearsall for the latest installment of This Week In Penn State Wrestling.


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VIDEO: Coach Chambers Update - Jan. 29

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Patrick Chambers addressed the media on Monday afternoon to provide an update on the Nittany Lions heading into Thursday's trip to Iowa. Take a look through some highlights.


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VIDEO: One-on-One with Director of Athletics Dr. Dave Joyner

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com recently sat down with Penn State Director of Athletics Dr. Dave Joyner for an update on several things inside the department.

The topics covered include:
- The day-to-day operation of Penn State Athletics
- The success during the fall season
- The financial impact of the NCAA fine
- The addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten
- The future vision of Penn State Athletics

Take a look at the interview.



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Inspirational Message Opens 2013 Baseball Festivities

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By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Strength, perseverance and an appreciation for the beauty of baseball were all words of wisdom offered by Ben Petrick, former Colorado Rockies catcher and keynote speaker at Penn State's inaugural First Pitch Dinner.

Wine-Robby.jpegWith the 2013 baseball season less than three weeks away, the Nittany Lions hosted their preseason banquet to honor the success of last year's team along with the potential boasted by the current roster.  The turnout was incredible as family, alumni, coaches and players past and present gathered at the Ramada Conference Center for an unforgettable evening.

"There's a lot of excitement going on right now," said former first baseman Jordan Steranka, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 21st round of the 2012 MLB Draft.  "Getting everyone together, seeing all the families, all the coaches, all the players and teammates together, it's awesome."

When guests arrived, conversation ensued as former players met with their old teammates and relived the glory days, while freshmen were welcomed into the Penn State family.

"Anytime you get a chance to have people come back and support the program, as a player it's good and it's important for the University and the program in general," said senior shortstop Elliot Searer.  "It's a great chance for everybody to come out and, in a positive environment, have a good time with each other."

It was a particularly special moment for the 2012 senior class, who were able to catch up with the coaches and players that stood by them through college.

"Honestly, words don't even describe it," said former third baseman Joey DeBernardis.  "This is an awesome event.  I got to see guys that I haven't seen for months.  This means a lot to me to be back with the guys that I grew up with and roomed with and played with for years."

Following opening remarks, awards were handed out in recognition of last year's standout performers.  Joe Kurrasch earned Pitcher of the Year after finishing his final season as a Nittany Lion with a team leading 2.05 ERA and 78 strikeouts.  Kurrasch was drafted in the 8th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants.

Senior pitcher Neal Herring earned the Academic Achievement Award with a 3.66 GPA on the year and senior second baseman Luis Montesinos received the Most Improved Player Award.

Finally, Steranka was elected Most Valuable Player following a standout senior season that propelled him through the draft to the Pirates.  Steranka led the team in batting average (.363), hits (82), doubles (20), and slugging percentage (.615), and was second on the team in homeruns (11) and RBIs (40).

Head coach Robbie Wine proceeded to announce the 2013 roster and provided his insights into the keys for the upcoming season.  The Nittany Lions lost a talented senior class and are seeking a fresh start that began with the hire of outfielders coach Adam White and a new strength training coach to go along with a talented freshman class.

"I think our identity as a team is going to change," said senior pitcher Cody Lewis.  "We don't have as many big hitters as we had last year, so we're going to have to just play the fundamentals, put the ball in play and just try to get on base."

Senior pitcher Steven Hill, who notched a remarkable no-hitter in 2012 at Iowa, provided an entertaining speech on behalf of the players, thanking the alumni and families for their support, which was then followed by the keynote speaker.

Petrick's speech was the highlight of the banquet as he told the emotional story of his battle with Parkinson's disease while he was in the Major Leagues.

"His story is incredible and there is so much you can take from it," said junior outfielder Zach Ell.  "He never gave up.  That was a big thing.  He really never gave up."

A standing ovation was followed by awed silence as Petrick began his tale.  He dreamed of playing in the Majors and seized the opportunity when he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies.

His dream was cut short when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's following the 1999 season.  He played five more seasons despite his illness and announced his retirement from the game of baseball in 2004.

In his fight with Parkinson's, Petrick underwent two Deep Brain Stimulation surgeries, the first of which resulted in extremely negative side effects.  After his second surgery, however, Petrick saw a dramatic improvement.  His family stood by his side throughout the entire process.

His message was to embrace and appreciate all of life's experiences.  The quote he chose to provide the coaches and players before him inspired him when he was a player.

"The [quote] that stood out to me is the one that is about you as a person finding the will inside you to improve," said Petrick.  "To get better and work hard and not do it because some coach is telling you to do it, not doing it because your parents are telling you to do it, but doing it because you want to do it."

The quote was one from North Carolina women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance and epitomizes the true meaning of being a champion:

"The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking."

Petrick's story and the message he bestowed upon the players will be with them throughout the season and for the rest of their lives.

"It was really inspirational," said junior outfielder Steven Snyder.  "I think that as a team it'll help us come closer together and realize what we're playing for and why we're playing the game."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Katie Guy Ready For Senior Year

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In just a few weeks from now, Katie Guy will pick up her stick and lead the women's lacrosse team onto the field for her final season as a Nittany Lion.

Guy has spent her first three seasons at the midfield position; in 2013 she will switch to the defensive end of the field to help her young team.

8515759.jpeg"We have a lot of young people, a lot of young defenders right now and our team is pretty young actually this year so I'm kind of just trying to bring them up to speed on the system Missy (Doherty) implemented and make sure everyone is on the right page," said Guy.

Lacrosse Magazine recently named Guy the x-factor of the Nittany Lions. She will fill the vocal void left by former goalie Dana Cahill.

"It's hard because this year is a whole new team. We lost Dana, our goalie last year, who was a huge part of our defense for me, talking and stuff she was a huge leader down there. I'm kind of trying to fill up her role a little bit. We're focusing on this team this year so it's not the same as last year, we have a lot of good players," said Guy.

Since Guy joined the program in 2010, she has steadily improved her game and become a leader of the team. The senior now looks to build on her recent success. As a freshman, she appeared in eight games, grabbed eight groundballs, five draw controls and forced a turnover.

As a sophomore, Guy played in 17 games, scored four goals and had 19 draw controls. It set up her best season yet as a junior. She helped lead the Lions to a 12-7 record, started every game and was a huge part of the team's on the field communication.

At the end of 2012, she had recorded 30 draw controls, created 13 turnovers and scored five goals, all career highs.

It was during Guy's sophomore campaign when head coach Missy Doherty arrived on campus. She implemented a system that transformed the team into an instant contender, and helped Guy take her game to the next level.

"[Coach Doherty] is definitely inspiring. She is hard on us sometimes, which I think we need. Other times she is great to us," said Guy. "We practice hard, she gives us the weekend off and she is not like a drill sergeant all the time but she's definitely hard when she needs to be which I think we need sometimes too."

Guy, a senior captain, has been in the program long enough now to know the expectations.  The Nittany Lions advanced to the elite eight at last year's NCAA Tournament, and are excited about the season ahead.

"It's exciting. It's like alright, we have these expectations, let's build from them. We made it to the eight last year, we can make it to the final four this year I have no doubt in my mind. It's not like scary pressure it's sort of a little fire under our behinds to work even harder this year."

The Nittany Lions face a challenge in net this year with a new goaltender. Senior Ayla Harus and freshman Emi Smith are competing for time in 2013, and Guy has helped both develop.

"Both of them are doing an excellent job, they're challenging each other and stepping up everyday. I can truly say everyday they're getting better," said Guy. "It's just exciting to see and as a defense we're just trying to focus our defense on keeping the shots to the outside, I guess those are better angles for goalies and that kind of stuff, so we're really focusing our defense more on how to help them in the cage and help them get better."

Penn State plays in one of the most elite conferences in women's lacrosse. The team will play NCAA contenders in Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Florida and Maryland. Guy said the team has embraced playing these tough opponents and actually looks forward to the challenge.

"I figure if we're in our conference playing these teams in big games then when we get to NCAAs we won the first round, we were winning the first round because we were used to playing such hard teams.  Northwestern, Florida even Johns Hopkins all made it to NCAA"s last year and they were all in our conference so we had seen them once or twice. Once in the season and then again in our conference final so we weren't really intimidated when we got to the NCAAs because we were playing teams that hard all year. It's awesome."

Guy also said the young team is doing very well preparing for the 2013 campaign. The freshmen and sophomores have stepped up on the practice field and thoroughly impressed their vocal leader.

"They're doing a pretty good job, a really good job, on their own stepping up. They're stepping into the shoes of people that left last year I don't even really have to say too much last year," said Guy. "Honestly, they're doing a great job, even just little things though on defense we're trying to get our defense together to slide sooner and communication is a huge part of defense, which we were lacking a little bit, but the girls are doing a good job of stepping up, I'm very impressed."

The 2013 season will mark the end of Katie Guy's Penn State career. She will be leaving a program she has become the leader of. The senior is ready to hit the field in a few weeks to start what should be an amazing run.

"I love this team this year so I'm just excited to sort of take it as far as we can and sort of leave it all out on the field I guess. I'm excited to just enjoy every moment along the way," Guy said. 

Men's Lacrosse Looking to Take Next Step

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By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni doesn't want to sound cliche when he says he wants the program to build one step at a time, but that is exactly what they are doing.

8515676.jpeg"We look to prepare for the postseason, something that is not part of Penn State's tradition," Tambroni said. "This is the 100th season of the Penn State lacrosse and we have only been part of the playoff structure twice. [This season] is more of a day-to-day grind to give our guys the opportunity to focus on the details and the importance of preparation."

Penn State will play one more exhibition game against Johns Hopkins next weekend before opening the regular season. The Nittany Lions have a tough opening schedule, facing two Big Ten schools - Michigan and Ohio State. They also play three teams ranked above them in the International Lacrosse poll in No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 8 Lehigh and No. 12 Massachusetts. Those games will help the coaching staff evaluate the team heading into CAA play.

"We have to focus on one game at a time while also maintaining the scope of the season," Tambroni said. "We have to play well going into the CAA and hopefully we compete and play to our potential. We have to be more consistent and that we give ourselves a chance that we can play in the playoffs."

Two key words Tambroni emphasized were culture and tradition. Penn State has not made the postseason in 10 years, but has taken strides over the last two seasons to come closer to the NCAA Tournament. The Nittany Lions have improved each season that Tambroni has been at the helm for Penn State and finds itself at No. 15 going into the season, the highest ranking since Tambroni arrived.

In some cases, a high preseason ranking can cause teams to take its foot off the gas and complacency can set it. Tambroni embraces the respect his team is garnering and expects it to inject confidence throughout the program. However, they are still on the outside looking in at No. 15, and need to continue to move up in the standings if they hope to compete in the postseason come spring.

"In the first six games we'll look up at our opponents and will be considered underdogs in the rankings," Tambroni said. "We're in the progression stage right now...I want them to feel confident and good about getting to that point that they weren't at in year one and climbing up to the top rankings. I want them to feel encouragement that we are moving in the right direction, but nowhere near complacency or satisfaction. We have to move into the top 10 or win our league."

Tambroni previously coached at Cornell, a program with a rich lacrosse legacy. He brought with him to Penn State postseason and National Championship experience, as well as knowledge of a winning culture that can propel a team to the next level. His track record is a good starting point, but his players are the key to success.

The team leadership falls upon the shoulders of the seniors and team captains. The process of selecting captains took longer than in years past to evaluate where the team was. Redshirt s
eniors Jack Forster and Travis Crane have assumed the leadership roles, and will be vital to the development of the younger players.

"Since those captains have been announced, they have done an unbelievable job of taking the ball and running with it," Tambroni said. "They have hit the ground with such great stride that our leadership right now is ahead of where we imagined it to be knowing where we were back in September. We're at a point now where a majority of our guys have played for our coaching staff and know what our expectations are. We don't have to teach as much, they are now teaching our younger guys."

There is a foundation set for how the coaching staff wants the team to play both offensively and defensively. The leadership of the experienced players makes the teaching process for the younger players easier for Tambroni. He can add nuances to his game plan because of the way the captains have taken the new comers under their wing.

Tambroni's teams are known for running a grind-it-out type of offense dependent on ball control and holding for smart possessions. Due to new rule changes that have implemented a 30-second shot clock when a stall warning is called, Penn State may have to adjust to a faster pace to the game.

The transition in style will be easier because of goaltender Austin Kaut who was First Team All-CAA the past two seasons. His ability to stop shots and control rebounds makes clearing the ball and getting into transition much easier. The added depth at midfield and attack will help Penn State play a faster style without tiring out.

"We need to play more guys this year because the pace is going to be a lot quicker," Tambroni said. "We're being forced a little bit to play a pace that may not have been so comfortable in the first two years. Through recruiting and squad size we are in a better position this year to be able to adapt to this rule change and not fall behind too much."

Tambroni doesn't want his team to think of success in terms of what the scoreboard reads or by wins and losses. Building a program is a process, and Tambroni wants his team to continue to make strides toward the ultimate goal.

"I want them to ask themselves what they want to look like at the end of a game, end of a week, and the end of a season," said Tambroni. "If that means you want people to respect your effort, and you want people to utter words of respect and being role models, than I think we will have done a great job when the year is over. Winning will be the byproduct of that kind of effort, chemistry and a genuine investment in your teammates and that you will do everything on a daily basis to be successful."

VIDEO: Urschel at the Head of the Class

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PHOTO GALLERY: John Urschel Teaching Math

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nittany Lion football guard John Urschel has been nothing short of perfect in the classroom since he walked onto the University Park campus.

8515503.jpegUrschel, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors on the field in 2012, has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average since he arrived at Penn State.  He graduated in three years with a degree in mathematics before embarking on grad school.

The Williamsville, N.Y. native had a paper published online and in the print journal, Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy.  The paper is 32 pages and titled
"Instabilities of the Sun-Jupiter-Asteroid Three Body Problem".

This semester, Urschel has taken things one step further and is now teaching a section of an undergraduate math class.  Urschel is an instructor for Math 041, which is a course in Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:05 to 9:55 a.m.

GoPSUsports.com sat in on Urschel's lecture on Friday, which highlighted the differences between even and odd functions and how to graph them.  The class, which has 31 students enrolled in it, is the final step before calculus courses in the math department.

Urschel used the blackboard and chalk for his lecture, and he worked from prepared handwritten notes.  The Nittany Lion guard kept a two-way dialogue between the students for the entire duration of the class period.  When he wrote something on the board, Urschel challenged the class to help him finish each problem before he moved on to the next problem.

At one point, Urschel joked, "You guys are too smart for me," as one student verbally completed a graph on the blackboard before Urschel had time to finish writing it.

What adds another dimension to Urschel's spring semester are his football responsibilities, including early-morning workouts with strength coach Craig Fitzgerald as the Nittany Lions prepare for the 2013 season.  Take Friday as an example.  Urschel participated in the full team run and lifting session from 5:30 a.m. until 7:15 a.m. before walking to his 9:05 a.m. class at Bouke Building.

At the end of Friday's class period, Urschel reminded his students to complete the online quiz before the end of the night, and he told the students he would not be available for his normally scheduled office hours on Friday afternoon.

Why?

Urschel was on his way back to the heart of campus to participate in a math seminar immediately after his class ended.


Without knowing the schedules of every football student-athlete across the country, it's hard to imagine many with a routine like Urschel's on Friday.

Teaching the math course is like second nature to Urschel.  He was in his element at the front of the classroom.  While he is essentially the perfect student, Urschel's future on the gridiron is incredibly bright, too.


"After that workout, everything else is cake.  This is just math," Urschel joked after finishing Friday's class.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Alton, Ruth Fuel Nittany Lion Victory of Nebraska

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Entering Sunday's home meet against 12th-ranked Nebraska, the Penn State wrestling team knew they'd be up for a challenge facing a squad with four wrestlers ranked in the top 12.

8515291.jpegDespite a number a tough matchups, the Nittany Lions powered ahead for a convincing 33-9 victory to remain undefeated on the season.

Leading the way for Penn State were sophomore Dylan Alton and junior Ed Ruth, whose victories against top 10 opponents highlighted the afternoon.

Alton, a returning All-American and currently ranked sixth in the nation, earned a hard fought 3-1 win over fourth-ranked James Green at 157.

After wrestling even for the majority of three periods, Alton managed to produce a late takedown with 15 seconds left to score the upset.

"I had a reshot and managed to get the angle that I wanted," said Alton. "Once I got his legs it was done from there."

Alton's match was eagerly anticipated, not only because it came against a top five wrestler, but also because it was his first appearance in a dual meet since Dec. 15 against Lock Haven.

Wrestling in Rec Hall for the first time in over a month, Alton seemed both relieved and excited to be back in dual competition.

"It was great to finally get back in the action," said Alton. "I felt really excited being out there today."

Despite his prolonged absence, Alton showed excellent conditioning and endurance in a match that went down to the wire.

Afterwards, he credited his ability to wrestle strong for the full seven minutes in his first match back to the extra training he put in over the past month as well as the open tournaments he competed in.

"Competition always helps keep you in shape and lets you work on your stuff to get better," said Alton. "The past month I just kept training and trying to move forward to achieve my goal of being a national champion."

Head coach Cael Sanderson also commented on Alton's conditioning and how he seemed to improve it recently.

"Conditioning is something that Dylan has really learned to use to his advantage," said Sanderson. "Its something he's clearly worked on and is getting better at."

As far as his actual performance, Sanderson seemed pleased with the effort Alton gave to give the Nittany Lions a victory at one of the few weights they were not favored in.

"Dylan knew he had a big match and he did a great job," said Sanderson. "That's a tough opponent and it's always a close match when they wrestle."

While Alton's win sent the Nittany Lions into halftime leading 16-6, the second half has highlighted by top-ranked Ed Ruth's dominant tech fall over eighth-ranked Josh Ihnen at 184.

After letting up a rare takedown to fall behind early 2-0, Ruth turned up the heat and scored continuously for the remainder of the match.

Seeming to get stronger the longer he wrestled, Ruth took a 7-3 lead into the final period before putting Ihnen on his back three times to notch the tech fall with a score of 18-3.

Ruth, who is not accustomed to giving up the first points to an opponent, seemed to reach a new level of focus and intensity after his early slip.

"Giving up little points like that really gets to me," said Ruth. "It makes you want to go at the kid even harder."

Sanderson had no complaint with the way Ruth wrestled, and complimented him on how he managed to manhandle someone who was thought to be one of his toughest opponents.

"That kid is a strong, experienced wrestler and Ed just kept plugging away," said Sanderson. "Once he started moving around and getting to the legs he did what he always does."

The Nittany Lions hit the road next weekend for two of the toughest tests of the season, facing fourth-ranked Iowa on Friday, and sixth-ranked Illinois on Sunday.

Nittany Lions Pull Out the Win In Quad Meet

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By Sallie Sharer GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The women's gymnastics team came in first place with a score of 195.500 in their quad meet against Pittsburgh, Rutgers and the Iowa on Saturday night at Rec Hall.

8515277.jpegThe Lions narrowly beat out Iowa, who came in second with a score of 195.325.

Coming off of two injuries the week before, Penn State had a lot to prove and there was plenty of motivation for the Lions Saturday night.

Despite the two injuries that cost Penn State the win last weekend in its home opener, the team collaborated and was able to post the scores they have been training for.

"They trained hard all week, and they knew they were going to be without Maddy (Merriam) and Sam (Musto), and they knew had to step up and had to hit," head coach Jeff Thompson said.

In their first rotation, the Lions were on vault where they posted consistent and high scores for the team giving them an early lead. Uneven bars followed suit, and it was not until a shaky beam performance where the competition caught up.

Stepping in for senior and co-captain Madison Merriam on beam last weekend, sophomore Krystal Welsh gave another solid performance after training all week.

"She was our top freshman last year, and she is used to the pressure of competition week in and week out," Thompson said. "She is coming back from the injury and the stronger she gets the stronger she will do for us. She stayed on and that's the main thing."

Merriam was able to compete this week on vault and the uneven bars despite her foot injury last week.

When freshman Samantha Musto was injured during her floor routine last weekend in Rec Hall, the floor exercise event would be crucial to ensuring Penn State's win and changing this weeks outcome for the team.

"When it came to floor, we knew the meet was really close," Thompson said. "We had to match Iowa score for score, and having struggled on floor last week, the confidence this week is what carried them through. They did everything the best they could do, and it was fun to watch."

With five hits on floor, senior and co-captain Sharaya Musser was the last to compete in the event for the night.

It was also Musser's birthday.

With a hit, and a score of 9.850 on floor, Musser sealed the all-around title for the night with an overall score of 39.525.

In her last season as a Nittany Lion, Musser was pleased to have celebrated her birthday with a win for Penn State.

"This is the first time the competition has fallen on my birthday," Musser said, "and it was a nice present to pull out the win, and it was a lot of fun."

It was also a special night for junior Sidney Sanabria-Robles who competed in the all-around on Saturday night 39.100 earning her the prestigious Anne Carr Award.

Stepping up to fill in the holes in the lineup was an important theme for the team this week.

"We have been practicing that in the gym," Sanabria-Robles said. "We have a thing where we say you can either grab onto the rope or hold the rope and that's just keeping going, it doesn't matter if you fall, the team has your back and we're going to do our job."

The collaboration paid off for the Lions, and left the team still full of energy by meets end.

"This is going to give us a lot of momentum," coach Thompson said, "and even if we didn't win the meet, the fact that we hit all of our floor routines, they would have been just as excited win or lose."

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match Interviews - vs. No. 12 Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head into the media room to hear from head coach Cael Sanderson, Ed Ruth, Quentin Wright and Dylan Alton following Sunday's 33-9 win over No. 12 Wisconsin in sold out Rec Hall.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Lions Continue Success Against Future Big Ten Opponents

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By Pat White GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Guy Gadowsky said his team was in awe of Munn Ice Arena and got caught watching a lot in Penn State's (10-13-0) loss to Michigan State (7-16-3) on Friday night. With their nerves behind them, the Nittany Lions came back on Saturday and defeated the Spartans in comeback fashion.

Yanis-Mark.jpegFreshman goaltender Matt Skoff (McKees Rock, Pa.) described the victory as a character win for Penn State. This was the Nittany Lions first road test against a Big Ten opponent, playing in front of a hostile Michigan State crowd. On Saturday, Michigan State took a 2-0 lead just 6:21 into the first period on two shots from the blue line. The early deficit did not rattle the freshman netminder, and he shut the door for the rest of the game.

"I think Skoff had a shaky start," Gadowsky told the Big Ten Network, "but he came back really strong. That's a big win for us. It's a lot of fun and a great place to play. I can't tell you at the beginning of the year I could have ever expected this. It's a huge win for Penn State and I'm very happy."

For a freshman goaltender, a big crowd of 6,132 Michigan State fans can be intimidating and Skoff said before the game that he is used to hostile crowds from his time playing in the USHL. Coming off a tough 5-3 loss the night before, and trailing 2-0 after one period, Skoff showed off his poise and his ability to shine in Big Ten play.

"The fans will give it to you for sure," Skoff said in an interview with the BTN. "They scored two quick goals, but I think I hung in there pretty well. I just kept telling myself that we were going to get goals and luckily the team [scored] for me. It was a good win for our team and a good step forward for our program."

There was a little extra motivation for this game for Skoff. His friend and former teammate with the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL, Jake Hildebrand, started the game in goal for Michigan State. Despite great goaltending by his counterpart, Skoff's mates were able to put the pressure on and rally for the comeback win.

Penn State has been a comeback team all season long, and showed its resiliency once again on the big stage. The Nittany Lions were previously 0-11-0 when trailing after the first period, but turned the tides against a team they will see for many years to come in the Big Ten, which begins play next season.

Freshman Mark Yanis (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.) made his homecoming to Michigan and shined in all aspects of the game. He scored his third goal of the season on the power play to open the second period on Saturday. Forward Max Gardiner (Deephaven, Minn.) dipped his shoulder using his big 6-foot-3 frame to power to the net and, after a scramble in front, Yanis found the loose puck and beat Hildebrand.  Aside from his goal, Yanis played physical, stand-up defense that slowed down the Spartans' offensive attack.

Gardiner had one of his most impressive games of the season. The big right winger dished out three assists in the victory, and has raised his play since moving to the wing. His physical play along the boards coupled with his hard backchecking made him a factor in all three zones last night.

Gardiner's line with Casey Bailey (Anchorage, Alaska) and Taylor Holstrom (Yorba Linda, Calif.) continued their offensive dominance, combining for two goals and six assists in Saturday's contest. The trio has now amassed 12 goals and 18 assists in their last seven games. Holstrom has now scored in three straight games, but his biggest goal was the game-winner on Saturday with just four minutes remaining in the game.

"I think all of them are working very hard," Gadowsky said postgame. "It doesn't just come by accident. I think we started off with Max Gardiner going hard to the net and making a big play...If you work hard, good things happen and I think you can say that for the whole team."

Penn State is now 2-1 against future Big Ten hockey teams, including a win against Ohio State in the Three Rivers Classic. The fledgling program has out-performed expectations and the competitiveness in the Big Ten is another step forward for this up-and-coming program. The Nittany Lions have one more Big Ten test on Feb. 24-25 when they visit Wisconsin.

"I give the guys a lot of credit," Gadowsky touted on the BTN. "They've surprised us a few times this year and this is certainly one of them. It's a great place to play and a lot of fun. This is why you play in the Big Ten."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Lions Stay Confident After 65-51 Setback to Buckeyes

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By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Despite Saturday's 65-51 setback to 14th-ranked Ohio State, the Nittany Lions (8-12, 0-8) played the type of basketball that head coach Patrick Chambers likes to see. He said that his team played a game that not only showed heart, but more importantly improvement.

8513831.jpeg"Throw the record out, we're getting better," said Chambers. "You may not see it, but I see it."

The Buckeyes out-rebounded, out-shot and out-scored Penn State on its own floor, but Chambers said that he and his team know that they are up against the best competition in the nation, and they are improving on both ends of the floor with each passing game.  Chambers was pleased with the execution of the gameplan on Saturday, but the Lions need to start making more shots.

"We're playing against the best teams in the country top to bottom," said Chambers. "We're getting better and hopefully we'll see those results real soon."

The Lions held an Ohio State team that averaged 73.4 points per game to just 65. They allowed Big Ten leading point scorer Deshaun Thomas, who came in averaging 20.5 points per game, to score just 11. They forced eight turnovers and committed just four, and starting guard D.J. Newbill said it was mostly because they were focusing on the little things.

"We're just keeping it to basic basketball and stick to our fundamentals and stick to our habits," said Newbill. "I think that's one of the things that helped us take care of the ball today."

Penn State kept pressure on the Buckeyes from tip-off until the final buzzer. Chambers said that he thought the Lions challenged Ohio State for a full 40 minutes.

"We tried to mix our defenses up and we tried to mix coverages up on ball screens, coverage up on the posts," said Chambers. "We made sure we had a body on most of these guys and we made sure that we made it very difficult for them to score the basketball."

Jermaine Marshall notched a game-high 16 points and made it the 37th double-digit scoring game in his career. Newbill tacked on another 15 and facilitated six assists, and the two provided the spark that Penn State needed on the offensive end.

But the Lions need more than just Marshall and Newbill to provide outlets for scoring. Moving forward, Marshall said that it's important for him and his teammates to stick to their staple of playing solid defense and developing the offense as it goes.

"I definitely like the shots that we're getting, we've just got to be able to knock them down," said Marshall. "We believe and we just keep defending the rebound and our shots will drop."

Penn State will look to stay aggressive and take open shots every chance they get. And with more than half of the conference season yet to be played, Newbill said that his entire team is still confident in its abilities.

"We've just got to keep getting better and keep working on our habits," said Newbill. "In the gym, everything is going to stay the same and we've just got to keep coming and keep fighting and if we come out with a strong will success is going to find us." 

Lions Win Two in EIVA Opening Weekend

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By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The sixth-ranked Nittany Lions made it five-straight wins this season with back-to-back victories in Rec Hall over the weekend. Penn State opened conference play on its home court, defeating Sacred Heart and Harvard.

8513809.jpegThe Lions swept the Pioneers on Friday night behind a dominant offensive performance and captured their first victory of the weekend. The following night, Penn State battled for five sets and beat the Crimson in what head coach Mark Pavlik said was a game that his team needed to win.

Penn State has quickly emerged as what Pavlik calls the ultimate blue-collar squad, working together as a complete team of multiple talents rather than highlighting just a few key players. Pavlik said that a dedicated attitude and strong work ethic is something his team will especially need this season.

"The EIVA this year is the most competitive it has ever been in my career," said Pavlik. "This is the first time that I can remember that we have a meaningful EIVA match in January."

Twelve of the 17 rostered Lions contributed to the two wins through a total of eight sets of volleyball. Tom Comfort and Peter Russell each put up a team-best 16 kills on the weekend, Aaron Russell notched 11 more and Kyle Mars added another 10.

But the highlight of the two performances was the combined success that Penn State received from its players off of the bench. While guys like Mars, Ian Hendries, Nick Goodell and Zack Parik did not start either matches, they proved ready to play as soon as they were needed.

"I'm happy with the guys that came off of the bench and the effort that they gave," said Pavlik. "I think it's huge just for the team confidence. This is as good a team as I think I've ever had here. They're all pulling in one direction."

For Mars, starting a match and getting the nod is relatively unimportant. He said that entering a match late or even mid-set is something that he has gotten used to doing, and even feels comfortable with.

"That's something that I've pretty much been doing for three years now," said Mars. "My mentality is that I just need to try to compliment my teammates and not try to do too much."

Mars said that the role of a guy on the bench is essentially the same as any of the starters. He said that the great thing about wearing a Penn State jersey is that he and his teammates all work together.

"I think most of our game is just feeding off of one another - that's how we play well," said Mars. "It's a big strength for us."

Just seven matches into the 2013 season, Pavlik and his athletes agreed that there is still much work to be done. Libero Connor Curry said that in order for the Lions to make progress, they also need to stay consistent.

"I think steadiness is just a huge factor for us," said Curry. "We want to host [the EIVA championship] and that's what we've done for the last however many years and it looks like we're on our way." 

Records Fall at Penn State National

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By Kyle Lucas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion track teams set several records this weekend, including two NCAA records, during the Penn State Nationals held at the Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.

The first NCAA record fell Friday night in the men's 4x200-meter relay. The team of senior Emunael Mpanduki, sophomore Matt Gilmore, junior Brandon Bennett-Green and junior Aaron Nadolsky clocked in at 1:24.70. Their time shattered the previous record of 1:25.05 set by Rutgers in 2007.

"It feels great," said Gilmore. "We really have to live in the moment because these days don't happen often. Collegiate records, the fastest all time, it doesn't happen often and to do it at home, in a big meet, it's crazy."

Senior Casimir Loxsom followed up the 4x200-meter relay team's performance by adding his name to yet another record. This time capturing the American Collegiate record in the 600 meters with a time of 1:15.79. Loxsom just missed the NCAA record of 1:15.60. He also was shy of the American record of 1:15.80 which had been set earlier by Duane Solomon.

8513757.jpegDespite setting another record this season, Loxsom won't consider it a success without capturing a national title.

"It's the only way I can be satisfied with this season," said Loxsom. "I respect the other guys in the field but I think I've been working really hard. These are the most miles I've ever run and this is the hardest I've ever worked."

The Penn State National's streak of sub 4-minute miles was kept alive thanks to Brannon Kidder. The freshman finished with a time of 3:59.48 extending the streak to seven straight years. Kidder is the fourth Penn State athlete to enter the sub 4-minute mile club. Larry Mangan, Ryan Foster and Robby Creese are the other athletes to dip under 4 minutes. Kidder is also the second consecutive freshman to run under 4 minutes. Sophomore Robby Creese broke the mark last year.

In the women's 5,000-meter run junior Emily Giannotti had a dominating performance. Giannotti lapped almost everyone of her 21 competitors in the 25 lap race. She finished in 16:44.65, just over 30 seconds ahead of the second place runner.

"I felt good. I didn't really know where anybody else was. I knew I was alone. I was just running and trying not to look at the time too much," said Giannotti.

The Nittany Lions also had a productive weekend in the field events. Junior William Barr set a school record in the 35-pound weight throw. Barr threw a distance of 67-03.  Barr's toss was good enough for first place.

Fellow thrower, sophomore Darrell Hill, had a productive performance throwing the shot put. Hill's toss of 59-04.75, a new personal best, put him in first place for the event.

Junior Marlene Ricketts continue to improve on the season. Ricketts came away with another first place finish in the women's triple jump. She jumped a distance of 42-2.25, besting her previous personal best of 42-00.50 set two weeks ago at the Nittany Lion Challenge.  

In the men's high jump Penn State came away with another win. Senior Sean Reilly jumped a height of 7-00.25 giving him the win.

"Phenomenal, there is no other word for it," said head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Every event we did something amazing in it. We set two collegiate records. Every race you look at or every competition you look at, everything, we were phenomenal. So I just say in general we were phenomenal."

Penn State had several alumni return to compete in the meet. Owen and Kyle Dawson, Kevin Fuller, Dennis Pollow and Kara Millhouse were some of the athletes to return. Shana Cox, a 2012 Olympic runner for Great Britain's 4x400-meter relay team, also competed.

Penn State will be in action again next weekend hosting the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup in the Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.

Men's Swimming and Diving Defeat Navy

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's swimming and diving teams defeated Navy with a final score of 188-112 on Saturday.

up above.jpgGoing into the meet, the men knew they were going to have to win close races to come out with a victory. Last time they faced Navy, the men let too many of those close races get away from them; however that wasn't the case this time around.

"The biggest thing I saw in terms of change was we're winning close races," head coach John Hargis said. "That's a good habit for us to get into. It's an area that we've needed to improve all year and it seemed today we were winning some close races where we needed to."

The swimmers and divers knew what it felt like to lose by only 10 points last year and they fought to make sure they wouldn't have a repeat of the last time they raced Navy.

"The guys as a whole were not going to get beat today," Hargis said. "That was the mentality they came in with and they did what they needed to do. They had a chip on their shoulder and they wanted to set a statement. I think they did that today. They swam well and we had some of the best in-season swims that we've had all year."

The Nittany Lions kept the loss from last year in the back of their minds and used that to help them mentally prepare over the past week for this meet.

"As a whole, I thought we did really well today," Nick Ankosko said. "Last year we had a big upset so we came into this meet prepared and we wanted to make sure that they knew that we are here and ready to do work."

The swimmers did not waste any time making a statement as they opened the meet by setting a new pool record in the 200-medley relay. Nate Savoy swam the backstroke leg and got them off to an early lead. James Wilson followed with the breastroke leg to Sean Grier, who swam butterfly. Shane Austin anchored with a strong freestyle leg.

"It was an awesome feeling getting the pool record," Wilson said. "It's a big deal for me but most of the other guys already have a pool record. We are where we want to be in this event for right now and this will help our confidence for Big Tens. We were top five last year and we want to be even better this year."

Setting two pool records in one day, Grier reached another goal of his in the 100 Butterfly by getting under the 48-second mark by .02 seconds.

"It feels good to get another pool record," Grier said. "I've been looking at that time for the past two and a half years so it's nice to finally get it. Coming into the meet I was just thinking about swimming fast. We only have this meet and one more meet so I just thought about breaking the 48-second barrier."

With another meet coming up next weekend, the swimmers and divers will spend the next few days fine-tuning their technique and preparing to race again on Saturday.

"We're going to get more rest with taper coming up," Ankosko said. "We're also going to pay more attention to the details of our racing. We've already put in the work so now it's time to look at the little things like starts and turns to help us improve."

The Nittany Lions will be back in action at McCoy Natatorium on Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. as they host Towson. This meet will be the annual senior meet and there will be a short ceremony to honor the seniors before the meet starts. 

Women's Swimming and Diving Bounce Back

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's swimming and diving team came out with a win over Navy on Saturday, finishing with a final score of 185-107.

women.jpgThe last time the Nittany Lions competed, they fell short to a strong Arkansas team. However, the women did not let this loss keep them down for long. They opened the meet going 1-2-3 in the 200-medley relay.

"It sets the tone," head coach John Hargis said. "You win that first relay, the momentum continues at that point. A couple weeks ago in Arkansas we lost that first relay which is not something we're used to doing. It immediately deflated them and you could see that in the next few swims."

Senior Paige Whitmire also noted how crucial winning the first relay is in order to set up the rest of the meet, especially since the 200-medley relay is the first event at Big Tens.

"It's important to set the tone for any meet and it's also good practice for Big Tens because that's the ultimate goal," Whitmire said. "We want to get out fast so the other girls are psyched up to go fast too."

Building off of the momentum of the first relay, the women gained confidence to close out the meet strong by re-establishing the strength they have shown throughout the whole season and were able to walk away from the meet with a 78-point victory.

"I think today they swam with a little bit more confidence than they did at Arkansas," Hargis said. "I think they remembered that loss at Arkansas and wanted to re-evaluate, move forward and get passed that."

One aspect of competing that the coaches have continued to stress is the importance of finishing races strong and capitalizing on the closer races. In some meets, the difference between a win and a loss can come down to one close race.

"The biggest thing I saw in terms of change was we're winning close races," Hargis said. "That's a good habit for us to get into. It's an area that we've needed to improve all year and it seemed today that we were winning some of the close races that we needed to win."

The divers also saw success on the boards with Megan Springsteen leading the way. She finished the meet winning both the 1-meter and 3-meter events.

"The meet went well for us today," Springsteen said. "I had a new dive on the 3-meter that I've been working on and I was happy to be able to do it successfully. We've been breaking down dives and making little improvements that add up to big differences. All of this will help my confidence going into Big Tens."

With only one dual meet left for the season, emotions are starting to set in for some of the seniors. Whitmire, who started swimming 15 years ago, has a mix of emotions especially as the end gets closer and closer.

"Swimming D-1 is really hard while you're doing it and your waiting for it to be over, but when it comes down to the end you really don't want it to be over," Whitmire said. "I'm sad, I'm excited, I'm nervous because I want to end on a good note, but I'm mostly sad."

The Nittany Lions have a quick turn around with another meet coming up next weekend. Resting when they are not training and focusing on small details will help them prepare for another opportunity to race.

"We're going to need to focus on the little things in practice," Chelsea Weedman said. "We'll need to continue working on our nutrition and getting enough sleep to prepare for the next few weeks."

The swimmers and divers will take on Towson on Feb. 2. The six senior women will be recognized in a ceremony before the meet starts at 1 p.m.

Defense Continues to Develop For Nittany Lions

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By: Sean Flanery, GoPSUsports.com Student Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This past weekend the Nittany Lions held strong for five of the six periods of hockey, but eventually dropped a pair of decisions against Syracuse at the Tennity Ice Pavilion.

Reihl-Lindsay (2).jpegPenn State (7-16-1) proved this past weekend that it has come a long way since being defeated by the Orange (14-11-1) at home in early October. The first time around the Orange shutout the Lions in a two game series, however, that was a far different Nittany Lion team.

This evolving Penn State team has a certain level of confidence that is now prevalent in every game they play. That attitude took to the ice versus Syracuse on Friday and Saturday and made notable strides, falling by scores of 1-0 and 4-1, respectively. 

"We are definitely a more experienced team now than we are at the beginning of the season," said senior defenseman Lindsay Reihl. "We are working really hard and improving. We are really just worrying about playing our game and everything else is out of our control. Our defense looked great all weekend, so we are really getting it down now and it's showing on the scoreboard and in our overall game." 

The Lions newfound confidence is definitely showing. They have only lost one game by two goals or more since an early December loss versus Mercyhurst, which came on Saturday versus Syracuse.

Defensively the Lions have maintained their confidence late into games even when falling behind early. In game two of this past weekend, the Lions fell behind 3-0 in the first 12 minutes of action, but did not crumble. Penn State held Syracuse scoreless nearly the rest of the way until an empty net goal at the end of the third period.
  

"Defensively we played two great games," Reihl said. "Our defense was strong, both Nicole [Paniccia] and Celine [
Whitlinger] were strong in net and that always helps. We went [to Syracuse] and were confident because we'd seen the team before. We have been improving all season, so it was great to come out and have two very close games. Even though we didn't get the win it was great that we were able to have two very close games and played better this time against them." 

Penn State's progress defensively this season has been apparent since returning from the break in early January. Since their return, in the Lions' four losses, three of them have been decided by only one goal. Prior to this newfound defensive effort, Penn State had only one loss by one goal.

As the team's defensive effort keeps improving from game-to-game, so does the overall play of the team. The improvements are coming just at the right time, just in time. The College Hockey America tournament is a little over a month away and PSU will have opportunities to move up in the standings during the final four weeks of the season.

The Nittany Lions will look to keep improving upon their recent confidence as they begin a five-game home stand this Tuesday night. Penn State will host Princeton University (6-12-2) midweek test at Greenberg Ice Pavilion with the puck set to drop at 7 p.m.

--NITTANY LIONS--

Wrestling Match Blog - FINAL: #1 Penn State 33, #12 Nebraska 9

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live coverage of the two-time defending NCAA champion Penn State wrestling team's match against Wisconsin.

Take a look back at Penn State's 33-9 victory over No. 12 Nebraska on Sunday in sold out Rec Hall.

125: #2 Nico Megaludis Win By Forfeit
Second-ranked Nico Megaludis opened the match with a forfeit at 125 pounds, which put the Lions up 6-0.

133: Jordan Conaway Majors Shawn Nagel - 14-5
Freshman Jordan Conaway was aggressive throughout the first period, but he fell behind Nebraska junior Shawn Nagel, 2-0, after a takedown.  Conaway came right back with an escape and a takedown as the first period came to a close.  Leading 3-2 heading into the second, Conaway maintained the top position for the entire duration of the second period en route to a 1:53 advantage in riding time.  Conaway worked his way to a reversal in the third.  From there, Nagel trimmed the lead to 5-3 after an escape, but Conaway was not done.  He exploded for three takedowns and two back points to go along with a riding time point for a 14-5 major decision.  Conaway is a terrific third-period wrestler.  His surge handed Penn State a 10-0 lead in the match.

141: Bryan Pearsall Defeats #19 Ridge Kiley - 2-0
Senior Bryan Pearsall and 19th-ranked Ridge Kiley wrestled to a scoreless first period in the second bout of the afternoon.  Pearsall started the second frame from the top position, and he never relinquished the spot.  In doing so, Pearsall built 2:00 of riding time heading into the third.  Pearsall notched an escape to open the third for a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.  That proved to be all Pearsall needed to score a victory.  He fended off Kiley's late attack for a 2-0 shutout victory after clinching the riding time.

149: #12 Jake Sueflohn Pins #3 Andrew Alton - 5:33
Third-ranked Andrew Alton returned to the mat for the Nittany Lions on Sunday afternoon, and he wasted very little time taking control of his match against 12th-ranked Jake Sueflohn.  Alton scored a quick takedown and two back points for a 4-0 lead.  Alton took a 4-1 lead into the second period, but Sueflohn put a lot of pressure on Alton.  The Lion sophomore added an escape for a 5-1 edge, but Sueflohn answered with a takedown and collected a stalling point to make it 5-4 heading into the third.  The Nebraska sophomore battled his way to a reversal in the third before turning Alton for a pin at the 5:33 mark, Alton's first loss of the season.  The Nebraska pin set the score at 13-6, Nittany Lions. 

157: #6 Dylan Alton Defeats #4 James Green - 3-1
Sixth-ranked Dylan Alton and fourth-ranked James Green battled from the opening whistle at 157 pounds.  Alton nearly had Green on his back, but the Nebraska sophomore scrambled out to keep the match scoreless heading into the second period.  Alton escaped out of the bottom position for a 1-0 lead, and then held off several shots from Green to keep a one-point edge leading up to the third period.  Green tallied an escape to square the match at 1-1.  The match remained tied until the final 15 seconds when Alton battled to a late takedown in the middle of the mat to secure a 3-1 lead, which sent the Lions into the intermission with a 16-6 advantage on the scoreboard.

165: #2 David Taylor Tallies Technical Fall vs. Tyler Koehn - 16-1 (5:09)
Second-ranked David Taylor enters every match looking to score a lot of points, and Sunday was no exception.  He scored a takedown and a total of five back points against Nebraska's Tyler Koehn in the first period en route to a 7-1 lead after one.  Taylor picked up right where he left off in the second with eight more back points and a 15-1 lead on the scoreboard.  All Taylor needed was an escape to score a tech fall, and he got it just nine seconds into the third (5:09).  Taylor's win set the score at 21-6, Nittany Lions.

174: #4 Robert Kokesh Defeats #3 Matt Brown - 10-7
The second battle among top 10 opponents took place between third-ranked Matt Brown and fourth-ranked Robert Kokesh.  Brown nearly had a takedown as the first period expired, but Kokesh held him off.  Brown answered with an escape and a takedown for a 3-0 lead in the second.  Nonetheless, Kokesh came right back with superb second period.  The Nebraska sophomore scored an escape, a takedown and two back points for a 5-3 lead after two.  Brown rallied late, but a late attempt to turn Kokesh came up short, and the Nebraska sophomore held on for a 10-7 win.  Kokesh's win trimmed the Penn State lead down to 21-9.

184: #1 Ed Ruth Tallies Technical Fall Over #8 Josh Ihnen - 16-1 (7:00)
Junior Ed Ruth got stronger as his match against eighth-ranked Josh Ihnen wore on.  Ruth took a 7-3 lead after two periods before a dominant third frame.  Ruth turned Ihnen onto his back on three separate occasions.  Ruth added a riding time tally to make it 18-3 at the 7:00 mark to notch a technical fall victory.  The top-ranked Nittany Lion now has three technical fall victories this season.  His win on Sunday set the team score at, 26-9, Penn State.

197: #3 Quentin Wright Majors Caleb Kolb - 10-2
Third-ranked Quentin Wright used two takedowns and an escape point in the opening two periods for a 5-0 lead.  Additionally, Wright built 2:55 of riding time during the first to frames to garner complete control of the match.  Nebraska's Caleb Kolb used an escape to get on the board, but Wright collected two more takedowns and 3:25 of riding time to win, 10-2, for a major decision.  Wright is now 18-0 on the season, and he is wrestling with a purpose every time he steps onto the mat.

285: #17 Jon Gingrich Defeats Spencer Johnson - 7-4
Nittany Lion sophomore Jon Gingrich used a takedown to build a 2-1 advantage over Spencer Johnson after one period of action in the final bout of the afternoon.  Gingrich opened the second period on top and built nearly two minutes of riding time, but Johnson worked his way to a reversal to claim a 3-2 lead.  Gingrich escaped out to make it 3-3 heading into the final period.  The Lion sophomore scored an escape to open the third before notching a powerful takedown for a 6-3 lead on the scoreboard.  Johnson added an escape late, but Gingrich held strong for a 7-4 advantage with 2:47 of riding time.  Gingrich's win set the final score at 33-9.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Boosted by top 10 victories from Dylan Alton and Ed Ruth, the Nittany Lions remained perfect in 2012-13 with a 33-9 victory over 12th-ranked Nebraska.  Alton, who was wrestling for the first time in 2013, used a late takedown to score a much-needed 3-1 win over No. 4 James Green to send the Nittany Lions into the halftime break with a 16-6 advantage.  Top-ranked Ed Ruth highlighted the second half off the match with a dominant 18-3 technical fall victory over No. 8 Josh Ihnen.

The Nittany Lions will use Sunday's victory as springboard into a huge week ahead.  The Lions travel to Iowa City on Friday for a showdown with the No. 4 Hawkeyes.  Additionally, Penn State travels to No. 6 Illinois for a Sunday afternoon match.

Head coach Cael Sanderson said after the match to see how his team responds to the pair of challenges next weekend.  The Nittany Lions need to face challenges leading up to the month of March, and there is no better place than sold out Carver-Hawkeye Arena to do so.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Men's Hoops Game Blog - FINAL: #14 Ohio State 65, Penn State 51

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage of the Nittany Lion basketball team.

Take a look back at Penn State's 65-51 setback to No. 14 Ohio State on Saturday in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Starting Lineups:
Penn State -
G - Marshall, G - Newbill, G - Colella, F - Travis, F - Borovnjak
#14 Ohio State - G - Craft, G - Smith Jr., F - Thomas, F - Thompson, C - Williams


15:01 1st Half - Ohio State 11, Penn State 9
Both teams played an entertaining first five minutes of basketball to open the game, and both have been red hot shooting the basketball.  Ohio State started 4-for-5, while the Lions opened up 4-for-6 from the floor.  Jermaine Marshall and Sasa Borovnjak scored all nine of Penn State's tallies.  Big Ten leading scorer Deshaun Thomas scored five points for the Buckeyes, while Sam Thompson added five of his own.  Both teams played with good offensive flow.

11:41 1st Half - Ohio State 17, Penn State 11
The Nittany Lions tied the game at 11 after a dribble drive from D.J. Newbill, but the Buckeyes reeled off six-straight points to take their largest lead of the afternoon.  Ohio State went 7-for-10 from the field in the opening 8:19, but the Lions are hanging tough with good ball movement on the offensive end of the floor.  The Lions yielded one fastbreak attempt to the Buckeyes during the span between the two media timeouts, something they can ill afford to do against the athletic Buckeyes.

7:56 1st Half - Ohio State 19, Penn State 11
The Buckeyes cooled off shooting the basketball after their hot start, but the Lions were unable to capitalize heading into the media timeout.  The Lions went 1-for-10 during Ohio State's 8-0 scoring run.  Penn State have gone nearly six minutes without a basket, but the margin is still just eight.

Halftime - Ohio State 29, Penn State 18
The Nittany Lions walked off the floor at halftime fortunate to be within striking distance after a cold finish to the first half.  Penn State started 4-for-6 from the floor, but then went just 1-for-16 during an 11:24 span.  Ohio State started red-hot, but cooled off mid-way through the first half.  Nonetheless, Penn State could not capitalize despite playing very well on the defensive end of the floor.  Marshall scored 10 points in the first half, including Penn State's only two field goals after the 13:34 mark in the first half.  Thomas and Thompson each had seven points to lead the Buckeyes.  Despite shooting just 29 percent in the opening half, the Lions went into the locker room down just 11 thanks to good defensive effort.  Penn State had good looks in the first half, but the shots did not fall.

15:28 2nd Half - Ohio State 34, Penn State 25
The Nittany Lions played even with the Buckeyes during the initial stretch of the first half.  Newbill opened the scoring for Penn State in the second half with a drive down the lane before Brandon Taylor connected on a 3-pointer after his 0-for-5 first half.  Pat Ackerman then knocked down a mid-range jumper.  Penn State's first seven points in the second have come from three different players, something the Lions desperately need down the stretch.

11:51 2nd Half - Ohio State 43, Penn State 28
The Nittany Lions got as close as nine early in the second half, but the Buckeyes used a 9-2 scoring run to take a 16-point lead.  Newbill added a free throw to make it a 15-point game, and that's where things stood heading into the second media timeout of the half.  Penn State's ball movement has been good throughout the game, but again, the Lions have just not been able to knock down open looks when they've had opportunities.  Despite that, Penn State is still hanging tough on the defensive end of the floor.  Thomas is just 4-for-11 with nine points.

7:23 2nd Half - Ohio State 48, Penn State 34
Penn State had a chance to trim the Oho State lead down to single digits after Donovan Jack nailed a deep jumper from the top of the key.  Marshall did not connect on the front end of a one-and-one at the foul line.  Lenzelle Smith Jr. answered with a basket, but Marshall cut the lead back down to 11 with two free throws.  The Lions came up empty on their next possession, but Thompson nailed a big three to push the lead back up to 14.  Thompson is 6-for-6 from the field and has 16 points.

3:27 2nd Half - Ohio State 58, Penn State 47
The Ohio State lead grew to as much as 17 after Thomas converted on two trips to the foul line at the 6:08 mark.  However, the Lions carved into the lead with two Marshall free throws, a 3-pointer from Nick Colella and a lay-in from Sasa Borovnjak.  Smith Jr. countered with a pair of free throws for the Buckeyes, but Newbill drained a pull-up jumper from the elbow to set the scoring margin at 11.  Penn State's defense put the Lions in a position to be within striking distance.

FINAL: Ohio State 65, Penn State 51
The Nittany Lions got as close as 11 in the second half, but the Buckeyes capitalized on their opportunities at the foul line when they needed to during the 14-point victory.  Penn State played a good second half on the defensive end of the floor, but the Lions were never able to mount a scoring run when they needed to.  The game was tied at 11-11 mid-way through the first half.  Ohio State mounted an 8-0 scoring spurt to claim a 19-11 lead.  During that span, the Lions went ice cold from the floor (1-for-16).  The eight-point edge proved to be all Ohio State needed to control the tempo of the game.  The Lions never got closer than 10 points after that.

The guard duo of Marshall (16 pts) and Newbill (15 pts) again paced the Nittany Lions on offense.  Borovnjak added nine points in the setback.  Ohio State's Sam Thompson led the Buckeyes with 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting.  Penn State shot 36 percent from the field, 24 percent from the 3-point arc (4-17) and 59 percent from the foul line (13-22).  When you look at the final stats, the Lions did a lot of things well on Saturday afternoon.  Holding the Big Ten's leading scorer to 4-for-13 shooting and 11 points is an accomplishment.  Additionally, Penn State committed a season-low four turnovers.  Nevertheless, the Buckeyes went 11-for-11 down the stretch to ice the game late.

Chambers said after the game that he was pleased with the defense, and he said the Lions executed the gameplan pretty well.  Chambers added that he feels like Penn State is close because of the way it is playing on defense, but the team needs a third scorer to step up to help Marshall and Newbill on the offensive end of the floor.

 

Penn State travels to Iowa on Thursday at 8 p.m.



__________________________________________________________________________________________

Keys for the Lions
Containing Big Ten leading scorer Deshaun Thomas (20.5 ppg) is easier said than done, but the Lions will be looking to force someone other than the Big Ten's top scorer to put points on the board.  Thomas is good shooter from just about everywhere, but Penn State will try limit dribble penetration from the cast athletic ballhandlers, including Thomas, from Ohio State.  On the offensive side of the ball, Penn State must take care of the basketball.  D.J. Newbill has done a terrific job learning the point guard position, but Saturday will be his biggest test when he faces off against Craft's relentless ball pressure.  Getting Newbill some help bringing the ball up the floor will be crucial.  


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

McAdam Makes SportsCenter Top 10 Plays

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Penn State men's hockey signee Eamon McAdam (Perkasie, Pa.) recently made SportsCenter's Top 10 plays after a spectactular glove save at the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Jan. 23. In the game, McAdam stopped all 11 shots he faced in 30 minutes of action to help Team West earn a 2-1 victory over Team East. The Perkasie, Pa., native was named MVP for his efforts.

McAdam, who plays for the Waterloo Black Hawks, is the No. 7-ranked North American goaltender in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings in advance of the 2013 NHL Draft. In 2012-13, he has compiled a 12-4-1 record with two shutouts as the Black Hawks sit in third place in the USHL Western Conference.

At the onset of the season, he led the U.S. Junior Select Team to the gold medal at the World Junior "A" Challenge and earned best goaltender recognition with his silver medal-winning performance with Waterloo at the 2012 Junior Club World Cup.

The goaltender will join the Nittany Lions for the 2013-14 season.

Video courtesy of the USHL

Defense a Focal Point as Season Approaches

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By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State is making a concerted effort on the diamond to bolster an already formidable defense heading into the 2013 season and the infield has shown promise across the board.

Searer-Elliott.jpegThe defense contributed significantly to the Nittany Lions' success in 2012 with a .966 fielding percentage, garnering confidence from the pitching staff and lifting the team to a 15-9 conference record.  Nevertheless, the coaching staff saw room for improvement and went to work in the off-season.

"We want to be better defensively than we were last year," said assistant coach Eric Folmar.  "It's a lot of repetition, it's making sure guys are in the right place, understanding where they're supposed to go with the baseball, and getting their bodies in the right position to be consistent fielding the ball."

With the return of senior shortstop Elliot Searer and senior second baseman Luis Montesinos, the strength of the infield for Penn State lies up the middle, where it matters most.  Both Montesinos and Searer sought to set an example as upperclassmen by working hard to raise their games and coach Folmar is pleased with the results.

"They've both worked on all areas of the game," said Folmar.  "From a defensive standpoint, I think they've both gone after it in the fall and made big strides with their footwork around the bag and in all areas."

Having Searer and Montesinos set the tone is crucial for the Nittany Lions moving forward after the loss of a dynamic senior class.  Leadership is important to the success of any collegiate athletic program and this year's senior class has risen to the challenge.

"The role from last season to this season changes for me because we lost all those seniors," said Montesinos.  "Me, Elliot [Searer] and Steve Snyder, for position players, need to step up as the leaders this year."

"I think what [Searer and Montesinos] have taken more than anything is more of a leadership role," said Folmar.  "That's a big part of it.  Anytime you have a good team, you have great leadership, and it starts at the top from the seniors working down."

Though the Nittany Lions lost two key position players in first baseman Jordan Steranka and third baseman Joey DeBernardis, a healthy competition has emerged as players continuously improve their performances to capture a starting spot, particularly at third base.

"The guys that are battling at third base to get over there and play, they're coming and working every day to get better," said Folmar.  "Right now there are a few guys in the mix in a lot of different places."

Penn State returns sophomore first baseman J.J. White, who started in 32 games his freshman season as a designated hitter and, occasionally, at first base.  White is among a host of young players who've show a lot of potential as the coaches search to solidify a starting lineup.

"We have a guy returning at first base that played a lot last year, J.J. White," said Folmar.  "We think he's got a chance to be a very good player."

Offensively, the Nittany Lions lost their three top hitters in 2012, including Steranka, DeBernardis and outfielder Sean Deegan, who combined for 31 of the team's 38 home runs.

It was a tough loss, but the coaches never faltered and responded by not only strengthening the defense, but by focusing on 'small ball' instead of the 'long ball.'  In other words, instead of relying on homeruns, Penn State will focus on getting batters on base and manufacturing runs.

"We're trying to play a little bit more small ball," said Montesinos on the focus in practice during the off-season.  "Get the first guy of the inning on base, move him over and score him."

Consistency, speed and conditioning are vital to a team that manufactures runs to win games.  The Nittany Lions have a lot of speed throughout the lineup and have been working tirelessly on their hitting.  The first step is to put runners on base followed by smart hitting and base running.

"I think we have some good athletes," said Searer, "some guys that can run, so we've utilized base running in practice and are working on leads. It's a game of inches, so if we can get those speedy guys out there further and further then we want to do that."

That being said, the main focus both offensively and defensively throughout the offseason is simple: practice and progress.

"We're preparing them to be better every day," said Folmar.

--NITTANY LIONS--

VIDEO: Hernandez Talks About School Record, Off Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State won the Navy Open title last weekend and sophomore Craig Hernandez broke his own school record on the pommel horse to win the event title in Annapolis, Md. The team does not compete this weekend, so Hernandez talked to GoPSUsports.com about his record, off week focuses and how good the team is on the pommel horse.

Penn State, which holds the top spot in the latest GymInfo rankings, returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 2 vs. Ohio State inside historic Rec Hall at 7 p.m.

--NITTANY LIONS--

VIDEO: Hauser, Shishkoff Look Ahead to Navy Dual

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Both teams enter the weekend ranked among the top-20 in the latest College Swimming Coach Association of America Poll and are focused on continuing their stead improvement as the championship portion of the schedule approaches. The women's squad (4-2) is ranked 14th by the publication, while the men's team (3-2) enters the dual meet with Navy as the 19th ranked squad in the country.


--NITTANY LIONS--

VIDEO: Inside a Winter Workout with Nittany Lion Fotball

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before most of campus began to stir for the final workday of the week, Penn State Football had more than 90 minutes of conditioning activity on the turf inside Holuba Hall and the Lasch Building weight room wrapped up.

With temperatures in the single digits and the wind chill below zero, the Nittany Lions held their weekly 5:30 a.m. full-team run indoors on Friday.  Rotating between six stations, the Lions moved at a swift pace under the direction of strength coach Craig Fitzgerald.  The workout stations included a sled push-pull, three speed and agility rotations, a giant tire flip and the ultra-competitive "Tug" where two players grab a plastic saucer-like device with two handles on it and engage in a tug of strength.

Following the conditioning work indoors, the full team moved into the weight room for a 60-minute upper body weight lifting session.  Following Friday's 5:30 a.m. team run and lift, the Nittany Lions are three weeks into its offseason strength and conditioning program.

The players are currently lifting on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and the full-team lift on Friday, in addition to the Friday 5:30 a.m. run.  Fitzgerald has been pleased with the progress the Nittany Lions have made after three weeks of winter conditioning.

Spring practice begins in 52 days.


Follow GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Lions Host Buckeyes on Coaches vs. Cancer Band Together Day

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By Tony Mancuso and Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Members of the Penn State men's basketball team won't be wearing their usual, white home-game jerseys in the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday afternoon when No. 14 Ohio State comes to town.

8505425.jpegInstead, the Lions will trade them in for ones painted in a shade of gray as a sign of their support for Penn State Coaches vs. Cancer. In its third year as an event, the team hopes to portray the same message as it has before and calls it 'Band Together Day'.

The Lions and Penn State Athletics will donate three dollars to the Coaches vs. Cancer effort for every gameday ticket that is sold.

But for this year's men's basketball squad, supporting a foundation that is dedicated to helping those directly involved with cancer patients means more than just different jerseys and raising money.

Head coach Patrick Chambers, who also serves as a chairman for CVC-Penn State, said that he is continually impressed with the impact that one team and one community can make in the world of cancer research and treatment.

"I want to be a big part of it and I want to help raise awareness locally and for this community and it's a special day for us," said Chambers. "Whatever we can do to raise awareness and try to fight this thing, that's what we've got to do."

Last year, Chambers helped Penn State raise more than $2 million for the CVC program. And Chambers said that the idea of banding together and fighting for the same cause is something that he talks to his basketball team about all of the time.

"It's definitely a life lesson that you can teach regarding the day and regarding what people go through," said Chambers. "We want those survivors that are going to be here to know that we've got their back and that we believe in them and we're going to help them along their journey and their path to make sure that they get the best care that they can get."

The Lions have had even more reason to stick together as a support system for their own D.J. Newbill, whose mother died from cancer less than two months before the start of this season. Newbill said that his entire team travelled to Philadelphia last September on the day of his mother's funeral, and has been helping him stay strong ever since.

"Cancer is affecting a lot of lives," said Newbill. "A lot of my teammates, they see how it affected my life and then it also affected their lives because they're my brothers so they felt my pain in that situation."

But the sophomore point guard said that his team's support and help through it all has opened up their eyes to the issue at large - the one that's off the court.

"I think a lot of guys understand that it's more than basketball," said Newbill. "As a team during the game we just want to stick together through the tough times and we understand that we go through tough times on the court but there are far more tough times for all of those people fighting cancer."

The men's basketball team and Coach Chambers support Coaches vs. Cancer efforts all year long and, at the end of it, a portion of the proceeds that are raised through CVC-Penn State are given to the Bob Perks Fund. The fund is a local charity that assists those directly affected by cancer in the Centre Region.

Chambers said that being an ambassador for change and making an impact within the immediate surroundings of State College is more and more important every day.

"That's why I am a big part of it," said Chambers. "It's touched us all and it touches this community every day."


Scouting the Buckeyes
The 14th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes travel to the Bryce Jordan Center with a 14-4 overall mark and a 4-2 record in Big Ten play.  Led by the Big Ten's leading scorer, Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State has conference wins over Nebraska (70-44), Purdue (74-64), No. 2 Michigan (56-53) and Iowa (72-63).  The Buckeyes suffered a 74-55 setback at Illinois and a 59-56 loss at Michigan State.  Thomas is the catalyst of the Ohio State offense.  Averaging 20.5 points per game and 6.7 rebounds, the long, athletic forward is a pure scorer from anywhere on the floor.  Lenzelle Smith, Jr. is the only other Buckeye averaging in double figures (10.2 ppg).  Point guard Aaron Craft enters the game averaging 8.9 tallies per contest.  Simply put, Craft is one of the best on-ball defenders in the nation.  The stingy junior is a terrific defensive player with quick feet and a high basketball IQ.  Ohio State ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing just 58.2 tallies per game.  Additionally, the Buckeyes are allowing their opponents to shoot at a 38 percent clip this season.

Keys for the Lions
Containing Thomas is easier said than done, but the Lions will be looking to force someone other than the Big Ten's top scorer to put points on the board.  Thomas is good shooter from just about everywhere, but Penn State will try limit dribble penetration from the cast athletic ballhandlers, including Thomas, from Ohio State.  On the offensive side of the ball, Penn State must take care of the basketball.  D.J. Newbill has done a terrific job learning the point guard position, but Saturday will be his biggest test when he faces off against Craft's relentless ball pressure.  Getting Newbill some help bringing the ball up the floor will be crucial.  Newbill grew into a leader at Assembly Hall on Wednesday night.  He was knocked around for 40 minutes, but he got back up to fight every time.  The Lions need that type of mentality from their leader again on Saturday.

"I think you saw a leader emerge (at IU)," Chambers said.  "He just kept coming an competing. He has a boxer's mentality.  He's going to keep throwing punches. He's like Rocky Balboa. He took 1,000 punches from (Victor) Oladipo, (Jordan) Hulls and (Will) Sheehey...and he kept coming."

This is the lone meeting between Penn State and Ohio State this season.  The game tips at noon on ESPN2.

Nittany Lion Swimming and Diving Welcomes Navy

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion swimming and diving teams are back in action this weekend as they take on Navy and host one of their last dual meets of the season.

8505219.jpegComing off of a travel meet to Fayetteville, Ark. the swimmers and divers took the last two weeks to sharpen their skills and put in more hard work while keeping in mind their goals for the end of the season. Navy last competed against the University of North Carolina on Jan. 12 and looks to rebound after tough loses to the No. 16-ranked team.

Welcoming Navy to McCoy Natatorium, the swimmers and divers will use the opportunity to race in a dual meet setting for one of the last times this year before they shave and taper for the championship meets.

With Big Tens right around the corner, the Nittany Lions' practices have not lightened up for these next two dual meets. Senior Amy Lewis says that they have already started a countdown for Big Tens and that has remained the focus of their training.

"We've been doing a lot more fast sets in practice with high intensity," Lewis said. "We're going into this meet with a mindset that it's going to be fun to get up and race, but our mind is more on Big Tens. That's where we will get our excitement from."

This meet marks the second season in a row that Penn State will face Navy. Last year, the women came out victorious over Navy but the men fell short losing by a small margin of 10 points. This year, Navy will come into the meet with a 6-2 record for the women's team and a 5-4 record on the men's side.

Helping to lead the men's side, sophomore Nate Savoy has stepped up throughout the season and swam to four NCAA "B" cuts at the Georgia Invitational in December. Hoping to finish the season strong, Savoy says his goal is to swim towards his fastest in-season best times.

"I'm excited to get the chance to race and be in a home meet environment this weekend," Savoy said. "We have to be able to finish the season on a good note so we're aiming to go some of our fastest times in-season. It'll be fun to have parents and fans in the stands, which we don't always get when we travel."

In addition to a strong home crowd, having a supportive group of more than 60 swimmers and divers helps to set up an exciting environment that is different from the usual practice setting. Freshman Jenna Bickel noted this aspect of the team right away.

"I love how supportive this team is," Bickel said. "We're a close team and the upperclassmen have always been welcoming. We try to stand and cheer for the whole meet because it creates a much more exciting environment and one that will help us race faster."

For several seniors on the team, this meet brings up mixed emotions since they will only have two more opportunities to race in the pool that they have spent countless hours training in over the past four years.

"I'm glad our last two meets are at home especially since it's right before Big Tens," Lewis said. "I'm excited for this weekend but it also gives me chills knowing I don't have many meets left."

This meet will be a Code Blue Blast event to encourage more students to attend. They will earn points towards the reward system and can be entered to win Bon Jovi tickets. Competition starts at 11 a.m. this Saturday, Jan. 26. 

Spark Returns Just in Time for Lady Lions Against Gophers

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It wasn't pretty from a statistical standpoint, but after No. 8 Penn State's (16-2, 6-0) 64-59 win over upset minded Minnesota (13-7, 2-4), Coquese Washington acknowledged the effort that her players showed, especially down the stretch.

Greene-Nikki (4).jpegWith a little more than eight minutes to go in the second half the Lady Lions found themselves trailing by two at home to a team that they now have more conference wins in this week alone than Minnesota does all season.

Senior center Nikki Greene was struggling in the scoring column with three points, all from the charity stripe, and it had been almost ten minutes since senior guard Alex Bentley connected from the field.

Minnesota was testing Penn State's patience; moreover, testing their confidence and the Lady Lions didn't flinch. Whether it was one of Maggie Lucas' 26 points or Dara Taylor's three steals, it all came together at the end of the game.

"We have a lot of different people who are capable of stepping up and making plays, which is certainly something we like happening," said Washington. "We certainly don't have to rely on one person."

Greene hit her first shot from the field with 7:54 to go in the second half followed by two strong defensive possessions from her teammates and all of the sudden they Lady Lions looked like the Lady Lions again.

Even when Minnesota hit a few key shots down the stretch to get the lead within one point on four different occasions, Penn State answered. Whether it was a steal on the defensive end or hitting free throws, they were able to come through when it mattered most.

"We had a bunch of different people make key plays down the stretch," said Washington. "Maggie made free throws. Alex made a huge jump shot. Nikki made the big shots. Dara gets a steal on defense. Ariel in the late second half made a huge drive to get the and one."

Washington's squad created turnovers, forced Minnesota to take tough shots and was able to get out in transition and, maybe most importantly, converted from the free throw line. Over the last nine minutes Penn State went five of six from the stripe, which turned out to be the difference maker in a game they won by that same number.

Lucas, Greene, and Bentley led the way for Penn State down the stretch scoring the team's final 16 points. In the game, Lucas tallied 26, Bentley added 12 and Greene finished with nine points. Six of Greene's nine points came in the last eight minutes of the game where she saw her scoring ability change drastically compared to the first 32 minutes.

"I believe I was more patient with the ball," said Greene. "(Coquese) kind of emphasized that every time we went into timeouts that they were going to double team me and so I tried to look for a shot every opportunity I got if I wasn't double teamed."

Greene also collected 13 rebounds including a game high eight on the defensive side of the ball. With the help of Tori Waldner and Talia East the Lady Lions continued to have an effective down low presence in Big Ten play.

Throughout the course of the season Washington has been able to call upon players like Waldner and East, as well as senior guard Gizelle Studevent, at any time in the game no matter how many minutes they may see on the floor.

"Those guys do a lot of things that maybe do not show up in the stat sheet, necessarily," said Washington. "Whether it is talking or communicating, being in the right side of help side, they just do a lot of stuff that necessarily does not show up, but I have a lot of confidence in them to be a big factor and to have an impact."

The Lady Lions will try to build on the strong finish against Minnesota and translate the intensity on the road in Columbus on Sunday against Ohio State (11-8, 1-5).

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Nittany Lions Looking Ahead to Penn State National

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By Kyle Lucas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERISTY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion track and field teams will host the Penn State National this Friday and Saturday at Ashenfelter III Indoor Track. The invitational competition will feature over 40 teams, in addition to professional athletes and 2012 Olympians.

8503508.jpeg"I'm getting the opportunity to run a fun event in the 600. It's not really contested a lot. I'm looking too just go out there and get out a hard first 400 meters and see what happens the last lap," said Loxsom. "I think I'm in pretty good shape and I think I can take down a couple records this weekend."

The final for the 600 meters is schedule for 1:20 p.m. Saturday. Loxsom is also running in the 4x400 meter relay teaming up with senior Aaron Nadolsky and junior Brandon Bennett-Green.

In the men's 4x200-meter relay Penn State will take a shot at setting the colligate record. The team of Emunael Mpanduki, Brandon Bennett-Green, Aaron Nadolsky and Matt Gilmore came close earlier this season when setting the Penn State record of 1:25.52. The current NCAA record, set by Rutgers in 2007 is 1:25.05. They will compete against St. Augustine and Georgetown at 8:55 Friday evening.

"A couple of things that we're looking for, is we're looking to challenge the collegiate record in the 4x200-meter relay on the men's side, which is going to run on Friday night," said head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "We came very close to it early in the season. We're going to give it one more shot and see if we can break that collegiate record."

One of the biggest events of the meet, the mile run, will be held Saturday at 4 p.m.  The event has seen a sub-4:00 mile performance for six straight years. Nittany Lion runners sophomore Robby Creese, freshman Brannon Kidder and senior Sam Masters will look to keep the streak alive. Creese managed to break the 4-minute barrier last year running a 3:58.94.

"[In the ] last six years we've had somebody break a 4-minute mile, so we're really going to be shooting to do that," said head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "We've got three of our Penn state guys in the race and I think that they can have a great opportunity to do so. So that is going to be exciting."

In other events Penn State is expecting to see several athletes top the 7-foot mark in the men's high jump.

In other events, Alford-Sullivan is looking forward to the men's high jump. The competition is set to included several 7-foot jumpers, including three from Penn State. Jumping in the event for Penn State is junior Jon Hendershot, sophomore Michael McClelland and senior Sean Reilly.

"For our team specifically, besides those record chasing performances, were looking for people to come together and step up their game," said Alford-Sullivan. "The first couple of meets you're kind of getting the season in motion, shaking off the rust and starting to get into the groove of competition. Now they should be pretty heightened up and pretty excited to be hosting a meet of this caliber and be able to get after it."

Several Olympians and professional athletes will be competing this weekend. Redshirt-sophomore Kristen Nieuwendam, a two-time Olympian in the 200-meters, will run in the women's 60-meter dash and the 200 meters. Shana Cox, a former Penn State standout, will be competing in the 400 meters. Cox was part of Great Britain's 4x400-meter relay team that finished fifth at the 2012 Olympic games.

Gold medal winner for the U.S. women's 4x400-relay, Francena McCorory, will run in the 500 meters. McCorory is a former Hampton University runner. Two-time IAAF World Champion in the 400-meter hurdles, Bershawn Jackson of GW Express will run in the 400-meter dash. Sheila Reid, a 2012 Olympian and former Villanova athlete, will run in the women's mile.

In Game Blog: Women's Basketball vs. Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome back to in-game coverage of 2012-13 Lady Lions women's basketball season.  Insight and reaction will be provided by GoPSUsports.com throughout the game, so check back often as the action unfolds.

The Lady Lions ran their winning streak to 10 games and pushed their home court winning streak to 16 straight on Thursday night vs. Minnesota with a 64-59 victory. It wasn't easy, with the Golden Gophers connecting on 45 percent of their shots, but Alex Bentley, Maggie Lucas and Nikki Greene made plays when their team needed them the most.

Today's Game in 140 Characters: Don't blink, both teams avg. 70-plus ppg...2 of B1G's top scorers, Banham (Minn) & Lucas (PSU), square off...PSU looks to stay perfect in #B1G

First Five on the Floor (Starting lineups)
Nittany Lions -
G- Bentley, G- Lucas, G- Taylor, F- Nickson, C- Greene
Golden Gophers - G- Banham, G- Mullaney, G- Noga, F- Riché, F- Kellogg

1st Half: 15:34 - No. 8/8 Penn State 7, Minnesota 6
It took almost a minute and a half, but both teams finally cracked the scoring column with baskets in the lane. Minnesota has a group of guards that get a lot of deflections, which led to a pair of early PSU turnovers. The post has been active for both squads in the early going even though guards primarily dominate the scoring for both squads. A Dara Taylor three pointer is the difference in the score right now and the Lions will need her to be big in her usual ways again tonight.

1st Half: 11:27 - No. 8/8 Penn State 14, Minnesota 13
This has not been a crisp game so far for either team, but Minnesota has benefited from some senseless Penn State fouls to keep it close. The Lady Lion defense has turned up the pressure on the Minnesota offense and converted on the other end. The Gophers defense has been a bit unreliable in the paint, leading to some open looks for the Blue and White, but they have yet to convert with two missed layups and two turnovers on their four chances. The scoring is spread among five players each for PSU and UM, with Lucas and Riché leading their respective teams with four points each.

1st Half: 7:56 - No. 8/8 Penn State 20, Minnesota 18
Penn State is getting the ball into the post, but the post players for Minnesota are playing it tough once it gets in there; forcing seven straight unconverted attempts in the paint. The ball movement for PSU has been very nice over the first 12-plus minutes of this game and they will need that to continue to keep the quick Gopher defense off balance and out of position. Lucas has knocked down a pair of attempts since we last updated, giving her nine points on the night and the Lions continue to force the pace and create offense from defense with eight turnovers forced.

1st Half: 7:56 - No. 8/8 Penn State 20, Minnesota 18
Gizelle Studevent cured the inside game problems for the Nittany Lions when she converted on a hard cut through the paint on a nice pass from Alex Bentley. The senior pushed the Lions back into the lead with a three pointer from the corner a little later, just seconds after Minnesota knotted the score. Neither team has been able to shake the other, mostly due to the stout defense that each side is playing. Minnesota is shooting well from the floor, which is keeping them close, at 48 percent, while Penn State is shooting 35 percent, but holds a slim edge on the boards (16-15) and at the free throw stripe (4-3).

End of 1st Half - No. 8/8 Penn State 31, Minnesota 29
Minnesota ranks 19th nationally in field goal percentage and ended the first half with a 46 clip and if it weren't for a couple of late scores Penn State would have went into the locker room trailing. Bentley made a nice take to the basket and Greene hit one-of-two from the line to push the home team ahead by two points at the half. There hasn't been a lot of offensive flow in the game, but with two solid defenses that was expected.

Lucas was the only player to reach double figures, ended the opening stanza with 11 points, and has a game-high five rebounds to go along with one assist. Six other PSU players have combined for 20, with Bentley and Studevent each tallying four points. The Golden Gophers own the edge in the paint, 18-12, and in points off of turnovers, 12-10. Only Michigan State has outscored the Lady Lions off of turnovers in Big Ten play this season.  

2nd Half: 15:43 - No. 8/8 Penn State 33, Minnesota 35
The no-flow offense continues to open the second half, as each team has fumbled and fouled their way through the first four minutes. The Lions have forced only two turnovers since the eight minute mark in the first half and that has led to more set plays and not a lot of fast break looks for the Blue and White. On the McNugget front, we are going to need a serious spark to reach 70. IMO, that spark is going to be needed just to win the game, because Minnesota is really playing well right now.

2nd Half: 11:54 - No. 8/8 Penn State 40, Minnesota 39
Penn State has rallied to retake the lead and Ariel Edwards will shoot a free throw following the break, but it has not been easy for the Lions. With limited chances to get out in transition their offensive movement has not been very concise. Banham has been solid at scoring the ball from everywhere on the floor and are doing a great job in transition defense. This one is going to be tight to the end. Lucas continues to lead all scorers, now with 16 points.

2nd Half: 7:28 - No. 8/8 Penn State 47, Minnesota 47
There have been 16 missed layups by Penn State in this game and many of those have been very makeable shots, but give the Gophers credit on their ability to score from nearly anywhere on the court. Minnesota is still hitting over 40 percent of their shots from the floor, compared to 32 percent for PSU, and the Lady Lions have connected on just two of six shots from beyond the arc. The Gophers have shut down Bentley and Taylor to this point - on both ends of the court - and Lucas has been able to keep the blue and white close with 20 points.

 

Note to my readers: Nikki Greene's converted layup with 7:54 to play made her the 35th player in school history to crack the 1,000-point plateau for a career.

2nd Half: 3:49 - No. 8/8 Penn State 54, Minnesota 51
A quick 7-0 run, fueled by a pair of Greene layups and a nice fast break pass from Lucas to Bentley, who knocked down the jumper on the other end, pushed the Lady Lions back in front. But, like earlier, a bevy of off the ball, 50-foot away from the basket fouls have allowed the Gophers to close the gap. Bentley has been the engine that drives the car down the stretch and at the final media timeout we have a three point game. The way that shots are falling for Minnesota, I don't want them to have one shot to tie or win this game.  The Gophers have hung in this game the whole way and are playing with some real confidence right now, nailing their last six free throws.

FINAL - No. 8/8 Penn State 54, Minnesota 51
You could call them the heart and soul of the team and on this night Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas provided everything the Lady Lions needed in a resilient effort for their team. When it mattered most, when all the chips were on the table, Bentley and Lucas willed their team to victory. It was Lucas early, scoring most of her 26 points over the first 25 minutes of the game, and Bentley late, with six of her 12 points over the final five minutes.

It was also the tale of two games for Nikki Greene, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark on the evening, as the senior notched six of her nine points last in the second half to help carry Penn State to their tenth straight win on the season. Greene ended the night with a game-high 13 rebounds, her fifth straight game with ten rebounds, and she played a big portion of the second half with three fouls.

Minnesota had a feeling that it was their night, shooting 45 percent from the field and outrebounding the Lady Lions, 39-37, but a couple of late turnovers and some late fouls undid them. It's not often that the same five that start the game are on the floor to finish the contest, but that was the case tonight and is one reason for the incredible finish to the game.

Every team needs to be tested and in the postgame press conference you could see that there was a little relief on the faces of the Penn State players, but there was also that fire burning to get better. They will have to turn around quickly from this close call because a rested Ohio State team awaits them in Columbus. The Lady Lions (16-2, 6-0) will take their 10 game winning streak into a matchup with a team in the Buckeyes (11-8, 1-5) that are trying to get back on track after losing five of its last six games.

Fast Break Press Conference Quotes
"Critical plays and critical calls at the end. I think we did a nice job on the boards, for the most part, which was a big worry of ours coming into the game. I think it was critical plays and critical calls down the stretch that was the difference in this game."
- Minnesota head coach Pam Borton

"We did a good job of making them play a half-court game and I think we did a great job of shutting down their transition game."
- Minnesota head coach Pam Borton

"We didn't have a lot of transition opportunities tonight, but we started to get some late in the game and that was the change down the stretch."
-Senior Alex Bentley

"We really rely on our defense and we knew if we could get a few stops and executed on the other end we would be in good shape. We handled ourselves well at the end [of the game]."
- Junior Maggie Lucas

"[Reaching the 1,000 point mark] feels good. I wasn't really aware of it, but it feels good."
- Senior Nikki Greene

"I think we got some good shots, but we didn't make them. I think moving forward we need to find more of a flow offensively."
-Head coach Coquese Washington

"Minnesota was playing with a lot of confidence and Rachel Banham is a good player. We know that we are going to be challenged on a nightly basis in the Big Ten."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"We had a bunch of different people make important plays down the stretch. We have a lot of different people that are capable of stepping up and making plays...but it's also nice to have someone like Maggie who can score the ball like she does."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

                     


What To Look For:

- Penn State is the lone unbeaten team in Big Ten play this season and entered their three-game week ranked eighth in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Poll. The Lady Lions are 5-0 in the conference after their 59-49 win at No. 25 Michigan on Monday. It was only the second time this season that Penn State has been held under 60 points, which is 14 points below their season average, but was the fourth straight contest they won by double digits.

- As potent as the offense has been this year, defense has been the name of the game for the Lady Lions. Michigan's 49 points marked the seventh time this season that PSU has not allowed an opponent to score more than 50 points. They have held the opposition to less than 60 points 10 times in 2012-13, which is three shy of the 13 such efforts they had on the defensive end last season.


 - Penn State is on a roll after winning their ninth straight decision at Michigan, which is tied for the sixth longest in the nation with Florida Gulf Coast and Green Bay. The Lady Lions will also look to continue their home court winning streak vs. the Gophers, as well, entering the night with 15 straight wins on their home floor.

- The Lady Lions look to extend their winning streak against Minnesota, too. Penn State has won five straight games in the series and leads 25-11 on the all-time tally. Prior to their current winning streak, PSU had lost six straight games at the hands of Gophers from 2008-10.

 

Health, Training Lead to Felleman's Sophomore Surge

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- Entering the 2013 men's gymnastics season, Penn State sophomore Matt Felleman knew he had a lot to prove.

Felleman-Matthew.jpegAfter a freshman season in which he showed promise but was also hampered by an elbow injury, Felleman came into his sophomore campaign determined to be one of the Nittany Lion's top gymnasts.

"I trained a lot harder this past summer than the one before," said Felleman. "I really wanted to work on my skills and put together better routines."

Two meets into the season, Felleman has certainly showcased plenty of skills, establishing himself as one of the team's highest and most reliable scorers.

The event he has really displayed his talent has been the high bar, where he set the school record with a score of 15.500 in the team's opening meet against Army, before tying it the following week at the Navy open.

"It's great to set a school record," said Felleman. "It's going to be tough to top it but I'm going to try and keep it consistent throughout the year."

Felleman was quick to state that while he has been pleased by his performance so far this year, the success has not come as a surprise to him.

Competing in seven of the team's nine meets his freshman season, Felleman thought he had shown he could be an elite gymnast despite missing most of the offseason, and knew that with a full summer of training he could hit the ground running going into his sophomore year.

"Being healthy this summer I had a lot more time to work on some things," said Felleman. "With the hard work I put in and the adrenaline rush I get during meets I knew I could perform this well."

Despite his fast start, Felleman is determined to continue to improve himself in his other events, such as pommel horse, rings, and the all-around competition.

If last week's Navy Open, in which he set a personal best on the pommel horse with a score of 14.100 while finishing second in the all-around competition, is any indicator, Felleman has already started to improve.

One thing that the Medway, Mass. native credited his growth as a gymnast to is the friendly competition emerging between he and his teammates, particularly freshman Trevor Howard, who narrowly edged him for first place in the all-around competition at Navy.

"Trevor and I definitely had a little competition to see who could get the better all-around score," said Felleman. "We're both good competitors so hopefully I can top him next time."

The person most proud of Felleman's improvement and performance is head coach Randy Jepson.

What has impressed Jepson the most about his sophomore is the more disciplined approach and mindset he has developed this season.

"He's been so much more disciplined this year," said Jepson. "He's really prepared himself in terms of his physical shape, his conditioning, his weight and he's really serious about getting some things done this year."

Jepson complimented Felleman not only on his work ethic but also on the skills that he first saw when he recruited him, such as his strength and explosiveness.

Although he has gotten off to such a fast start, Jepson believes that he is only starting to show the potential he has as a gymnast.

"I think he's just starting to scratch the surface on what his future holds," said Jepson. "I think he can be force at both the NCAA Championships and beyond at the USA National level."

For Felleman, getting to that level will mean just taking it one step at a time, both as an individual and as a team.

"I'm hoping to stay consistent and improve in all my events this year," said Felleman. "Team wise I think we can give everyone a run for their money."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Head Coach Update - Jan. 24, 2013

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Greetings from Rec Hall!

A belated Happy New Year to all of you from all of us here with PSU MVB! Our season is rolling and after last night's 3-0 victory over the Loyola Ramblers we have moved to 4-1 on the season.
Pavlik_Marka.jpg
There is much to update for everyone since my last writing. There is some big news that you'll have to scan down to get to, but I'll start with some alumni news.

I think all Nittany Lions were proud of the job Matt Anderson and his USA teammates did in London during the Summer Olympics! Matt played well through the tournament and continues to do so professionally with his Zenit Kazan team in Russia. Follow him and the team at http://www.zenit-kazan.com/eng/.

Max Holt is playing in Piacenza, Italy for Copra Elior Piacenza. (You can follow Max here: http://www.copraelior.it/) He is starting and seems to be playing very well for the team.
Alex Gutor is playing in Qatar. Kyle Masterson is back with Boldklubben Marienlyst in Denmark. Will Price is in Istanbul . Joe Sunder is in Croatia and Ed Goas...whose Capitanes de Arecibo team defeated Dennis Del Valle's Mets de Guaynabo team (coached by Javier Gaspar) for the Puerto Rico Superior League championship two weeks ago...is in Finland now. Dennis is training with the Puerto Rican national team. Also, Ivan Contreras captained the Mexican national team during the NORCECA Olympic Qualification tournament in Long Beach in May!

Speaking of the alums, we just enjoyed hosting the annual PSU MVB Alumni Weekend this past weekend. With a turnout of approximately 35 alums, many of whom were in South Gym Friday evening to help us defeat the Lewis Flyers, the Alumni match was spirited! Keith Kowal and John Mills returned to give the Alums some presence in the middle. Outside hitters Jay Stauffer, Ryan Wolf and Andrew Price gave the Alums some good ball control and attacking from the left antenna and Zelimir Koljesar was at the right antenna! The setting duties were ably picked up by Ryan Walthall. The varsity managed to win three games over this august group.
Then the always anticipated, never to be duplicated, Geezer Game occurred. The crowd responded favorably to the volleyball played in front of them...or maybe they were in awe of the savvy which they saw. No one was injured...in the Geezer Game...however, Carey Seavey strained a calf during the morning playing session! Two comments directed to me from one of our freshman's parent after witnessing the Geezer Game: "That #5 really has good hands!" and "That #5 is really agile!" That #5 was none other than Frank Guadagnino who proved that if someone only sees you play once you had better be prepared to impress!

Once the Geezer Game ended the second Varsity vs Alumni competition began! The Ball Pull! Last year's reigning champion Nate Meerstein was not present to defend his crown so the defense fell to Keith Kowal. Matt Seifert, who spent this entire year dedicated to avenging his loss to Meers last year in the Ball Pull, was the Varsity representative. Kowal won the first pull, but Seifert won the next two to wrest back to the Varsity the Ball Pull Championship for this year! But then, in a Ball Pull first, Matt had to defeat his father Harvey. Now, Harvey makes Matt look small, but he is thirty years his senior and has some arthritis in his hands. Matt did get the win, but it was not easy. Harvey is not a man to give up easily and made it an entertaining father-son battle!

The weekend then moved to the Atherton for the banquet and we were joined by Bill and Colleen O'Brien. Bill is our new football coach who has done a terrific job with our football program this year. As good a football coach as he is, he is even a better man and he took the time to hang out with us before the dinner. He shared a few words with the group and spent time just talking with various alums before he moved to a recruiting dinner of his own! We truly are ONE TEAM!

The Alums finally got on the board with a win over the Varsity in the Old Black Water Sing-Off. Another first occurred when Skids Agnew broke out the mandolin to accompany the Alums. That may have been what pushed the win over to the Alumni side. The Varsity to their credit knew the words and sang without song-sheets. A definite plus to their efforts, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Alums.

All-in-all, it was a terrific weekend. Phin Tuthill ('69) and Ralph Colaizzi ('66) were present. It was great to have them with us. It was Phin's first visit during the Alumni weekend and as such he was named this year's Most Valuable Geezer! We not only salute Phin as MVG, but with both he and Ralph present we had representation from SIX DECADES of PSU MVB!!!

Now for the BIG NEWS! This past fall, PSU MVB Boosters Jeff and Sharon Hyde, gave a gift of $100,000 to begin refurbishment of the PSU MVB Locker Room! I can't say "Thank You" enough to their great generosity. However, PSU MVB needs to raise additional funds to cover the remaining costs of the locker room. We are looking at raising an additional $200,000 as the PSU MVB program! Additional info will be forthcoming in the very near future, which will explain the various options through which anyone can assist with the locker room project. There are locker naming opportunities for $5000 (payable over 5 years) of which will be included in the forthcoming info. I think it very important that PSU MVB shoulder some of the cost of this locker room project. We have never been a program that has had its hand out always asking but never giving. This is the time to show how important this program is to everyone who has ever been associated with it! I thank you in advance for your help!

So this coming weekend, we open the EIVA season with matches in Rec Hall against Sacred Heart on Friday and Harvard on Saturday. The Harvard match will be in South Gym. Both teams were young and talented last year and should be even better this year. I hope to see you in Rec Hall this weekend!

All the best!
Pav, Colin, Jay and the guys

Future's Very Bright for Lone Star State Native

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By: Sean Flanery, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite missing the first five games of the season with an ankle sprain, freshman forward Hannah Hoenshell (Plano, Texas) has overcome the obstacles to become one of the Nittany Lions' main offensive weapons.

Hoenshell-Hannah.jpegCurrently, the Texas native ranks fourth on the team in points with a total of 10 and is tied for second in goals scored with seven. Since making her debut in the Sacred Heart series in late October, Hoenshell has been dominate on the ice for the Lions. The freshman forward delivered on the scoreboard for the Blue and White scoring in her second career game, as well as recording the first hat trick in Penn State history on Nov. 2 versus Sacred Heart.

Hoenshell's success at Penn State shouldn't come as a surprise as the 19-year-old has been finding the back of the net for quite some time now.

In Texas, Hoenshell spent six years with the Texas Alliance Bulldogs at the 19U level. In her last four seasons with the Bulldogs, Hoenshell tallied 155 goals in 166 games, while totaling 292 points during those fours years. The Nittany Lion forward has always had a knack for beating the opposing goaltender and she accredits much of her success to her former coach.


"I just continued to get better every year and had a really great coach who helped me improve a lot," said Hoenshell. "He developed my hands and we spent a lot of time working on my skills and everything just carried over into the games.  I just continued to get better with every season."

While her coach helped her to become the player she is today, Hoenshell stated he was also a main reason behind her staying in Texas with the Bulldogs. Texas doesn't have a large draw for hockey, especially for women, so Hoenshell said it was difficult playing in the Lone Star State, but worth it.

"There's only one girl's organization in the whole state, so we played against boys and we had to travel a lot for girl's tournaments," said Hoenshell. "I decided to stay there though just because I had a good coach and I felt he could get me where I deserved to be."

As fate would have it, Hoenshell would be wearing the Blue and White in the team's inaugural season. While it may not have been the start to the season Hoenshell wanted, she has made the most of her opportunities thus far proving she deserves to be here. Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene believes Hoenshell's great work ethic following her injury allowed her to display just how effective she can be with the puck.

"She worked really hard to get back in the lineup," said Brandwene. "She followed all instructions [during her rehab] and is having herself a great season. She has a great work ethic, attitude and provides us with tremendous skill down low and she's very savvy with the puck."

While her stat sheet would never suggest that Hoenshell was nervous, she stated that while making her return from the injury she felt she had something to prove to everyone.

"I definitely wanted to get out there because I didn't feel as much apart of the team," said Hoenshell. "I was missing out on stuff in the beginning and my first practice I was really nervous not to mess up because I hadn't made an impression yet and they all had, so that was nerve-wracking, but I got over it quickly." 

Hoenshell has done more than overcome the nerves of proving her skill to her teammates this season as she has performed at a high level since making her debut. The Texas native has gone as far as winning College Hockey America Rookie of the Week honors following her four point performance, two goals and two assists, on Jan. 4 versus Chatham.

Hoenshell is just one of many freshmen that have stepped up for the Lions thus far. With many Lions, along with Hoenshell, making tremendous strides in the past few weeks the future looks very bright for Penn State women's hockey.


Penn State (7-14-1) will play its next game this Friday at 7 p.m. as they travel to Syracuse, N.Y. to face-off in a two-game bout with the Orange of Syracuse (12-11-1).

--NITTANY LIONS--

VIDEO: Coach Chambers Postgame at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Watch head coach Patrick Chambers address the media following Penn State's 72-49 setback at Indiana.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Chmiel Talks Minnesota and Team Defense

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After winning a top-25 showdown on the road on Monday evening at Michigan, the Lady Lions turn their attention to Minnesota and assistant coach Fred Chmiel talks about the Golden Gophers and the defensive attitude of the team. The Lady Lions are 15-2 overall and sit atop the Big Ten standings as the only undefeated team after five games and play host to the Golden Gophers (13-6, 2-3) on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 6:30 p.m. on the BTN.
 

--NITTANY LIONS--

By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fred Chmiel has been described as intense, a tough guy, the hype man and even compared to the Grinch. You can find him on the court hours before Penn State Lady Lion games feeding passes to Maggie Lucas and Alex Bentley to make sure they are ready to go for that night's game.

Chmiel-Fred.jpegThe third year assistant coach takes extreme pride in his role with the eighth ranked team in the country and no matter what word is used to describe him, Lady Lion players and coaches see Chmiel as a very important piece to their success in 2013.

"Fred's funny," said guard Dara Taylor. "He kind of likes to play the tough guy, but he's really a softie. I think he loves all of us and he really enjoys coaching us. It's a really cool relationship."

Before game's he is on the court getting his players in the right mindset. During the games he is side by side with the other three coaches on the coaching staff commanding what has become the best team in the Big Ten in 2013, but for Chmiel it all starts with understanding each other on a personal level.


Building those relationships are important and it goes beyond executing the right defense or converting on a transition lay up.

Getting that to that level of respect is the reason why he has been able to become the team's disciplinary figure and have the full attention of the players no matter what the situation may be.

"There's more than x's and o's," said Chmiel. "There are relationships that have to be built and understanding of things outside of basketball, like if there's an academic problem or there's a problem at home. It's just understanding that, how to deal with that, how to cope with that and how to get through stuff like that."

After getting that level of respect, this is where the intense and tough guy part comes in.

He describes himself as the disciplinarian. Head coach Coquese Washington compared him to the Grinch and even called him grumpy. Why? Because he tells it like it is. It might not be what his players want to hear, but he lets them hear it.

"I think they appreciate that I'm honest with them and never sugarcoat stuff," said Chmiel. "Sometimes they don't like it, but they always understand it. That's just the way it is. That's the relationship and I think they respect that."

He works specifically with the guards and the defense, both areas that Taylor attributed their successes to the influence of Chmiel and the rest of the Lady Lion coaching staff.

Bentley, who has been working with Chmiel for three of her four years on campus, relies on his presence before each game. She uses him as an avenue for gaining more knowledge and receiving feedback to the point where she counts on his presence.

"He's my hype man," said Bentley, "the man I go to when I have plenty of questions. He's always instructing me and giving me feedback on the court, whether it's a game or a practice. He just gives us that comfort zone before the game and without him I wouldn't feel good going into game's every night."

Having that relationship with his players is what makes the "Grinch" effective and is what drives him each and every day.

"It makes me love coming to work every day," said Chmiel. "It's just like any other family where sometimes they're in a bad mood or I'm in a bad mood but we always get through it. We know where we're coming from, we know we care about each other and we know we have a common goal."

Bentley will be moving on at the conclusion of the 2013 season and pursue a professional career in basketball, but the relationships she has developed with Chmiel and the rest of the coaching staff will continue on. For now, Bentley will embrace the relationship she has built with her "hype man" on and off the court.

"He's amazing," she said. "Definitely can't trade him for anybody. He's just that special coach that gets you where you need to be."

--NITTANY LIONS--

Men's Hoops Game Blog - FINAL: #7 Indiana 72, Penn State 49

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Welcome to live in-game coverage of the Nittany Lion basketball team.

Take a look back at Penn State's 72-49 setback to Indiana inside Assembly Hall on Wednesday night.


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Starting Lineups:
Penn State -
G - Marshall, G - Newbill, G - Colella, F - Taylor, F - Borovnjak
#7 Indiana - G - Ferrell, G - Hulls, G - Oladipo, F - Watford, F - Zeller

15:59 1st Half - Indiana 7, Penn State 4
Indiana stormed out of the gate with a trio of baskets, including two from point guard Yogi Ferrell, for a 7-0 lead in the opening two minutes, but the Nittany Lions hung tough and trimmed the Hoosier lead down to 7-4.  Marshall connected on a floater in the lane before Ross Travis knocked down a pair of foul shots.  Penn State has competed hard on the defensive end of the floor in a 2-3 zone to start the game.

11:50 1st Half - Indiana 15, Penn State 8
The Nittany Lions have competed on both ends of the floor, but Indiana's ball pressure has been the key in the opening 8:10 of the game.  The Lions are shooting just 3-for-11 from the floor, largely because of the way Indiana has contested every possession.  Nonetheless, the Lions trail by just seven mid-way through the half, and they have done a nice job keeping the Hoosiers out of rhythm on offense.

7:17 1st Half - Indiana 20, Penn State 10
The story remained the same leading up into the third media timeout of the first half.  Penn State has done a nice job contesting shots around the basket throughout the first half.  The defensive effort has been superb for the Nittany Lions, but they are just 4-for-17 from the floor.  Marshall highlighted the stretch from the last media timeout with a basket and a big block on Victor Oladipo as he skied for a dunk.

3:44 1st Half - Indiana 23, Penn State 14
Penn State's defensive effort on the high-powered Hoosiers has been superb in the first half.  Indiana is shooting just 30 percent from the field in the first half.  Back-to-back baskets from Jon Graham pulled the Lions within seven on the scoreboard, 21-14, before Cody Zeller connected on two free throws to make it a nine-point game.  Getting stops the way the Lions are is the recipe to be in a position to win, but Penn State needs shots to fall.

HALF - Indiana 33, Penn State 19
It is difficult to hold a potent offense down for a complete half, but the Nittany Lions were close to doing so.  Eight late points from sixth-man Will Sheehey sparked a 10-4 IU run to closeout the first half.  Nonetheless, Penn State held Indiana to 37 percent shooting from the field.  The Nittany Lions had several chances around the basket that did not fall when the game was within 10, but they settled for 8-for-27 from the floor in the first half.  Marshall led the way with nine points on 4-for-8 shooting.  Graham provided a nice spark off the bench with four points, and he competed well on defense.  The Hoosiers picked up some momentum late in the half, but credit the Nittany Lions for their defensive play in sold out Assembly Hall.  Indiana came into the game averaging 84.4 points per game (38.3 in the first half).

15:36 2nd Half - Indiana 46, Penn State 27
The Hoosiers came out of the locker room red-hot.  Ferrell and Hulls each knocked down a three before Oladipo converted on a transition layup.  The quick 8-0 spurt put Indiana up 41-19 before the Lions called a timeout.  Newbill answered with two-straight baskets, but a third IU triple put Indian back up by 21 (44-23).  Sasa Borovnjak added two free throws and Marshall connected on a jumper to trim the Hoosier lead down to 17, but Oladipo's second bask of the half pushed the margin back up to 19.  The Nittany Lions have exchanged blows with Indiana after the first surge from the Hoosiers to open the half.