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February 2013 Archives

Brandwene Poised to Lead Lions into First Postseason

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By: Sean Flanery, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since wrapping up the regular season portion of its inaugural campaign, Penn State (7-24-2) and head coach Josh Brandwene have had a week of practice to prepare for the team's first appearance in the College Hockey America Tournament.

Gross-Taylor.jpegThe CHA women's conference has been in existence since the fall of the 2002 season and was then comprised of four teams. Now, the league has slowly lost a few teams, but also gained some to now account for six of the nation's Division I women's programs. This past fall, Penn State, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Lindenwood all made their CHA debuts.

With the CHA now being comprised of six teams, the format of the postseason tournament has undergone a few changes. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will now get a bye in the first weekend of action while the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will do battle with the No. 6 and No. 5 seeds, respectively.

"It's an interesting element of the series that we just played [RIT] pretty recently," said Brandwene. "They've got a great team and they've had a great season. I have tremendous respect for coach McDonald and the job he's done with that program. They're the third place team and the pressure is on them to move on."

Penn State finished the season stronger defensively than it started it, but struggled offensively down the stretch. However, the regular season is now in the past and it doesn't matter how many goals anyone has scored, or allowed up to this point. All that matters now is what each team does in the playoffs. Penn State will make its' tournament debut when it travels to play RIT in a best-of-three series beginning Friday at 2 p.m. inside Ritter Arena.

"[Our players] have worked so hard," said Brandwene. "They've been so competitive and the beauty of it is everybody's worked really hard. All programs have worked really hard during the regular season and it's sort of a reset button heading into playoffs, so anything can happen. We've got the underdog mentality and we're going to go up there with everything to gain and nothing to lose and give it our best shot."

All tournament seeds are based upon how the teams faired throughout conference play with the tiebreaker coming from head-to head records between the tied teams.

College Hockey America Tournament Breakdown
1. No. 9 Mercyhurst (26-6-1, 17-3-0 CHA) 34 points:

= The Lakers are led by forward Christine Bestland who posted a season total of 66 points (26 Goals, 40 Assists) this past year.
= In goal, Stephanie Ciampa led the CHA in goals-against average (1.40), winning percentage (.944), and ranked second in save-percentage (.935).
= The Lakers had won 10 consecutive CHA titles coming into this season.
= Mercyhurst's conference record dating back to 2002 is 114-5-9.
= This season, the Lakers posted a goals-per-game average of 4.3 while limiting opponents to a 1.7 average.

Mercyhurst.jpgThis season, Mercyhurst proved once again why it is regarded as one of the most elite Division I women's hockey programs in the country. Under the direction of Michael Sisti, the Lakers have dominated the conference while making eight straight NCAA tournament appearances including two consecutive trips to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2008-09 and 2009-10. The team's strength this season was their size and speed while having the help of one of the most elite forwards in the country in Christine Bestland who led the CHA with 66 points this season.

2. Syracuse (19-14-1, 13-6-1) 27 points:
= Balanced attack led by sophomore forward Nicole Ferrara (24 points; 10 G, 14 A) and senior forward Holly Carrie-Mattimoe (24 points; 9 G, 15 A).
= Junior goaltender Kallie Billadeau regarded as second-best net-minder in the CHA posted a conference best save percentage of .941.
= Syracuse's inaugural season in the CHA was in 2008-09 season.
= It took the team just three years to make a place for itself atop the CHA conference under Paul Flanagan making a trip the conference title game losing to Mercyhurst 5-4 in 2011.

Syracuse.jpgIn the 2012-13 campaign Syracuse battled through its' schedule with a balanced attack including five players registering 20 or more points for the season. Also, the Orange benefitted from having one of the most elite goaltenders in the conference in Billadeau who posted a 14-8 record this season. The team relied heavily on its defense while its' offense produced only an average of 2.7 goals-per-game. Syracuse played in several close games this season including 17 games decided by only one goal, which will bode well for the team in the playoffs having experience in close games.

3. RIT (14-15-5, 7-8-5) 19 points:
= Posted an average of 2.7 goals-per-game this season while holding opponents to 2.2 goals-per-game.
= The team was led by senior forward Tenecia Hiller as she registered 25 points this season (14 G, 11 A).
= The team featured a duo of goaltenders that both finished right around .500 in sophomore Ali Binnington (9-9-4) and junior Laura Chamberlain (5-6-1).
= Impressively, both net-minders averaged a 2.32 goals-against-average or better.

RIT.jpgIn the Tigers first year in the CHA and as a Division I team, they relied heavily on their defense and outstanding goaltenders to finish third in the conference thanks to a helpful head-to-head tiebreaker with Robert Morris. Head coach Scott McDonald ranks as the team's all time leader in coaching wins and led the team to its' first ever NCAA Championship as a Division III program just last season posting a 28-1-1 mark. The Tigers will host the Nittany Lions of Penn State in the first round of the CHA playoffs beginning March 1. This season, the Tigers posted a record of 3-0-1 against the Nittany Lions while outscoring them by a total of 13-4.

4. Robert Morris (13-14-3, 9-10-1) 19 points:
= A terrific penalty kill unit that allowed only 18 goals in 124 power plays all season.
= Forward Rebecca Vint led the team registering 31 points on the year (16 G, 15 A).
= Goaltender Kristen DiCiocco posted an 11-12-3 record while posting a goals-against-average of 2.32.
= The Colonials are the defending CHA Tournament Champions after defeating Mercyhurst in 2012.         

Robert Morris.jpgThe Colonials will look to defend their CHA tournament title this season, but drawing the four seed could mean trouble as the team will have to play an extra series to get into the championship round. This year, the team has drawn red-hot Lindenwood who finished the season going 5-1-2 in the month of February. Robert Morris posted a 1-3 record versus the Lions this year, so the road back to the championship round will be challenging.

5. Lindenwood (7-24-3, 7-10-3) 17 points:
= Finished the season on a strong note going 5-1-2 in the month of February.
= All seven of the team's wins came in conference play, which should help in the tournament.
= Posted a goals-per-game average of 1.8 while allowing just over four goals-per-game (4.3).
= Sophomore forward Alison Wickenheiser led the team with 23 points (12 G, 11 A) in 148 shots on net.
= Freshman goaltender Nicole Hensley ranked first in the conference for shots faced with 993.    

Lindenwood.jpgThe Lions ended the season exactly how they needed to, making a push for the four seed, but ultimately fell just short by two points to Robert Morris. So, Lindenwood will have to make the trip to Neville Island, Pa. in the first weekend of the CHA tournament where the team went 1-1 against Robert Morris in the regular season while matching the Colonials goal-for-goal in that series with seven apiece.

6. Penn State (7-24-2, 1-17-2) 4 points:
= The Nittany lions made their Division I debut in early October and will be competing in the CHA tournament for the first time.
= The roster includes 17 freshmen along with a number of transfer and former club players.
= The team averaged just 2.0 goals per game in its' first season while allowing 3.2 goals-per-game.
= Freshman forward Shannon Yoxheimer led the Lions with 30 points (14 G, 16 A) and tied for fifth in the CHA in goals.
= Junior goaltender Nicole Paniccia (6-17-2) ranked as the third best goaltender in the conference posting a goals against average of 3.20 while saving .925 percent of the shots she faced, which ranks third in the CHA.

Penn State.jpgUnder the direction of head coach Josh Brandwene the Nittany Lions proved that there are many ups and downs that come along with an inaugural season, but they have steadily improved over time. Now, as the tournament is finally here, Penn State will head to Rochester, N.Y. where they will square off with RIT, a team that they went 0-3-1 against in the regular season and just paid a visit to two weeks ago.



Spring Trip Can Be Stabilizer for Nittany Lions

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By Scott Traweek, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a challenging start to the 2013 season, Penn State (1-5) heads to Texas for a Spring Break trip that features a marathon schedule of eight games in ten days.

Hill-Steven.jpegThe road trip will provide the Nittany Lions with an opportunity to recover following two early series defeats at East Tennessee State and Liberty where, despite the results, both coaches and players learned a lot about their team.

They discovered that no matter what the score or the result, these players will fight until the end and then work to learn from defeat.

"One of the biggest things we've learned about the team is that guys are going to continue to battle," said pitching coach Jason Bell.  "Every out, every run you save, every at bat you don't give away is huge at the end of the game when you look back."

That sentiment is the same on the player's side.

"There's a lot of room for improvement," said senior pitcher Steven Hill.  "We see it and that's what we're going to do focus on in practice and in games. We have to continue to improve."

Two key words to describe this Penn State squad are hardworking and dedicated.  Every practice and every game offers the chance to grow and become better baseball players and this group will continue to raise the bar until the victories follow.

"This team really does work hard and it's a matter of time until results start paying off," said Bell.  "The amount of work these guys have put in has been quite a lot."

As a four-year veteran, Hill has learned the importance of focusing on one game at a time and not letting a tough series affect the team's mentality going forward.

"If you let a series dwell on you, it can turn into a losing streak," said Hill.  "You have to look at baseball one game at a time or you're going to let games that you should win get away."

The Nittany Lions will face five teams during the Spring Break road trip with a combined record of 16-11-1.

They will go up against talented hitting from Texas-San Antonio (6-3), which averages nearly nine runs per game with three players in their starting lineup batting over .400 and a team batting average of .356, at the UTSA Collegiate Baseball Classic. That field also includes games vs. Stephen F. Austin (2-4) and the University of Nebraska-Omaha (0-0).

They will battle lights out pitching in two games at the University of Houston (5-2), which features three starting pitchers who have allowed just one earned run over a combined 30 innings. They close out the spring trip with three games at Houston Baptist (3-4).

Regardless of the opponent, the coaches and players are looking forward to the challenges ahead and relish the opportunity to play baseball for a week straight without homework and classes.  The experience the younger players will gain is crucial heading into conference play.

"It's going to be fun," said Bell.  "We're going to play a lot of baseball.  We have eight games in ten days and these guys are going to be put in a lot of situations repeatedly to grow and get experience."

It will be an important trip for Penn State as the players seek to improve upon their consistency and work their way into a rhythm, which will lead to positive results.

"That's why this trip for us is huge because it gives us a chance to get some consistency going and with consistency the execution will come as well," said Bell.

Prolonged away stretches come with a number of hardships and can be devastating to a team early in the season.  Players have their routines disrupted on a daily basis, are constantly traveling, and face hostile crowds at each new venue.  Nevertheless, the opportunity to experience the chaotic atmosphere inherent in playing on the road will prepare them for the Big Ten season, when winning matters most.

"I think what this trip's going to do is it's going to prepare [the players] for conference play," said Bell.  "How they handle being at the University of Houston with their crowd or at Liberty with a large, loud crowd translates to later in the year when we're playing at places like Michigan or Ohio State."

Many players embrace the challenges and are looking forward to the adventure.

"It's fun going on the road," said Hill, "especially going to new places, seeing new ballparks and facing crowds.  It's tough to overcome a hostile crowd because sometimes they get into your head, but the more you see the better you get as the year goes on."

Penn State begins the trip on Friday, March 1 against Stephen F. Austin in the 2013 UTSA Collegiate Baseball Classic.  The game is slated for 3 p.m. Eastern time with senior Dave Walkling on the mound for the Nittany Lions.



Consistency Key in New Gymnastics Scoring System

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By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa-   So far this season, the top ranked Penn State men's gymnastics team has met every challenge that has come their way. Starting now though, they will face a new test, one that will force not just them, but every team in the NCAA to adjust how they compete.

Raque-Parker.jpegFor the remainder of the season, the NCAA will be implementing a new scoring system  that will allow teams to have five gymnasts compete in each event instead of six, with all five scores counting.

Without being able to have their lowest score in each event dropped, the Nittany Lions know they will have to be as sharp as ever from here on out.

"We going to have to rely more on consistency now," said senior captain Parker Raque. "It definitely puts a lot more pressure on each routine."

In order to prepare themselves for the rule change, the team plans on tailoring their practices even more to the style of the meets. This means keeping the atmosphere in practice as competitive as possible and that even casual slip ups in the gym will not be accepted.

"It all starts in the gym and we like to assimilate our practices to our meets when we train," said senior Felix Aronovich. "We like to have the entire team surround a guy before they practice each routine to create a meet-like environment."

Something that both Raque and Aronovich acknowledged is the fact that each gymnast will have to rely on themselves more and not count on a teammate to make up for their mistakes.

With such a small margin for error, the Nittany Lions know that they can't allow their focus and mindset to be affected too much by the scoring change.

"We've had really good consistency all year so it's going to be really important for all the guys to just keep the same mindset," said Raque. "We just need to go out and compete and not add extra pressure to ourselves."

The other key for Penn State, according to Aronovich, is still being able to move forward if they do make a mistake, since it will be virtually impossible for any team to stay perfect for an entire meet.

"You can't go through 30 routines without someone messing up once, that's just a fact," said Aronovich. "You just have to make sure that if you do make a mistake that it doesn't happen again and stay focused on each event."

One aspect of the scoring change that has caused disappointment for the Nittany Lions is the fact that having fewer attempts will allow fewer gymnasts to compete in meets.

For head coach Randy Jepson, having to sit some very capable gymnasts is something he is not looking forward too, though he has accepted it.

"The biggest thing is that you've just taken out competitive opportunities for guys," said Jepson. "That's what these guys live and breathe for and it's tough to see that taken away."

With his team ready to accept the new challenge that the scoring change presents, Jepson stated that it's a whole new season for the Nittany Lions at this point.

"Every day is a new day and every turn counts starting now," said Jepson. "That's not news to us and we're prepared to look at it that way from here on out."

Jepson has instilled the same mindset in his student-athletes, who have done their best to look at the rule change positively.

The way they see it, this is just another opportunity to continue to improve themselves as gymnasts going forward.

"This is a new environment for us but it is the same for all the other teams as well," said Raque. "I liked the way it was in the past but this change is exciting and it should be fun."


Bentley's Career Not Defined by Personal Numbers

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's no secret what Alex Bentley can do on the court. She can make a 20 point game look easy, have five or more assists and throw in a couple steals for good measure. The senior has been able to do a variation of that almost every time she takes the court.

Bentley-Alex (4).jpegThe senior point guard was the Big Ten's preseason player of the year and has been all over the individual awards that are handed out pre and postseason, especially in her last two years at Penn State.

As her career winds down, though, her coaches, teammates, and most of all herself, aren't really talking much about the individual numbers Bentley has put up in her time as a Lady Lion.

Rather, all the talk is on what she has done from a leadership standpoint and it has happened in a deserving manner.

"I think Alex has done an absolutely amazing job running this team," said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. "We asked her to do things a little differently than she did in her first three years and she took it and she's excelled at it. She is running the team the best she ever has, as far as being a point guard."

Bentley had to change her role coming into the 2012-13 season as Maryland transfer point guard Dara Taylor emerged as another weapon for the Lady Lions.

No problem for Bentley, though. She saw it as exactly that, another weapon. Not a downgrade in her control of the team on the court or any other negative spin that could have been put on it, just a positive addition for her team.

That's the leadership she brings. That's the legacy she has created at Penn State, something her teammates won't forget.

"Alex has been unbelievable for this program," said Maggie Lucas. "She's an unbelievable leader. I am going to miss her a lot next year, but the culture she has left behind and what's expected at this program will carry on for a very long time."

On the court, it's stingy defense and flashy plays that pump up her team and the crowd at home games at the Bryce Jordan Center. She's chest bumping Lucas or firing up Nikki Greene after a defensive stop. You can't miss her on the court during games.

It's even harder to miss her in practice where she is cracking jokes with teammates and finding a way to lighten the mood while being competitive every step of the way.

That's just part of the way Bentley plays the game.

"I just love the game," said Bentley. "That's my motivation."

Bentley hasn't led the team in scoring in the past two years. She hasn't received numerous Big Ten player of the week honors and when she does, it doesn't matter.

Not to the player that came to Penn State to win championships and rebuild what was at the time a struggling program.

With two Big Ten regular season titles, two trips to the NCAA tournament, a third on the horizon, Bentley has done just that. Those awards trump any sort of individual recognition, something a trophy or a box score cannot define.

"The biggest thing is her competitive fire and her will to win," said Washington. "They are two intangibles you can't put statistics on. Her competitive fire and will to win are two intangibles that helped turn this program around."

When asked about Bentley's legacy once her career ends at Penn State, Washington looked right to her joking personality, ability to lead her team to victories and steady improvement.

Bentley has developed her play offensively and defensively and with that, Washington believes that has led to the programs development as well.

For Bentley, as far as what the biggest thing she will takeaway from her Lady Lion career, well, that remains undefined.

"I don't know yet," said Bentley. "I don't know what the biggest [moment] is because it's not over yet. I'm having fun right now and I'm just enjoying every moment."

Penn State has two regular season games remaining, at Minnesota on Thursday and at Nebraska on Sunday, before the Big Ten Tournament begins on March 8 in Hoffman Estates, Ill.



Attitude Prevails for Nittany Lion Basketball

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Although he always says you have two choices in life when it comes to attitude, what head coach Patrick Chambers really means to say is that you have one choice.

Anything less than a positive attitude is simply unacceptable and not good enough for the Nittany Lion basketball program.

From the day he arrived to campus on June 3, 2011, Chambers began laying the foundation for what his expectations were for Penn State Basketball.  The overriding theme from the start revolved around a positive attitude.

8631666.jpeg"You are going to see some great basketball and some great attitude, positive energy and a lot of exciting things," Chambers said in his first interview.  "We are going to play hard. We are going to compete and we are going to make you proud."

What separates Chambers from just about everyone else in the sports world isn't the fact that he preaches confidence and positivity as the foundation for success on the basketball floor.  It's the fact that regardless of the team's record or what type of adversity it faces, the approach does not change and his team never wavers.

The clear evidence of that was not just on Wednesday night when the Lions rallied from 15 down in the second half to upset fourth-ranked Michigan.  It was in the weeks and months leading up to the well-earned win over the Wolverines.

"We were on a 14 game losing streak and they still came with a great approach," Chambers said. "They didn't lose the fight or the fire, and I knew we were going to win one down the line."

Wednesday's victory was a long time coming for a group of relentless Nittany Lions.  Chambers has been saying for weeks that he felt like the Lions were close to turning the corner.  They just needed the ball to bounce their way and execute some of what Chambers calls "winning plays." 

"Like I said, we've been close, and it just feels so good to taste victory again," Chambers said. "It's been so long and it's great to feel a win. I'm happy for them because they work so hard. I wouldn't say validation, but they put the work in and we're still looking to get better."

There is certainly some fortune and luck involved with winning big games in the rigorous Big Ten, but you make your own luck with work ethic night-in and night-out on the practice floor.  The Nittany Lions have been practicing well for weeks.  They have been in the gym putting up extra shots.  They have been in the weight room getting extra lifting sessions.  They have been watching extra film.

"It feels really good to come out and never give up," said guard D.J. Newbill.  "Our team never held our head on any game.  We kept fighting, kept to our principals and listened to coach. We believed in our foundation and it finally paid off."

Wednesday's win was no accident because the Nittany Lions earned every ounce of the thrilling performance.  Chambers knew his team could win a big game like it did because they have been going above and beyond the call of duty in the quest to get better.

"We're just trying to develop great habits and keep a great attitude," Chambers said.  "We come in every day with great energy and I kept telling these guys that it's only October 17 in my book.  We've got time to keep getting better and I think we're seeing that every day. They're getting more comfortable out there."

Chambers joked after the game that he just wanted a minute or two to celebrate the victory before shifting focus to Saturday's trip to Minnesota to face a Gopher team that knocked off No. 1 Indiana on Tuesday night.  Penn State has three regular season games left before the Big Ten Tournament begins on March 14.

The fact of the matter is that the Nittany Lions have been playing their best basketball of the season in recent weeks, and it could not be coming at a better time.  Penn State has been a confident team since practice began in October, but getting over the hump against a top five team will send the Lions into the final weeks of the season knowing that with continued effort on the practice floor, in the film room, in the weight room and execution of the gameplan they can win any game on the schedule.

"I think we work so hard and we are never going to give up," junior guard Jermaine Marshall.  "We believe that we can win any game.  We have to give credit to them.  They have a lot of great players.  We have confidence in ourselves, and confidence in coach.  We believe we were close and it feels good to say that we earned that win."

Whether the Nittany Lions are 14-1 or 1-14 they will always look the same under Coach Chambers.


He won't accept anything less from his players.  The attitude has been present from day one, and it's not going anywhere.  It's here to stay.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Sticking to Their Principles, Lions Get First Big Ten Win

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With less than six minutes to play against fourth-ranked Michigan on Wednesday night, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers found himself standing in a huddle looking into the eyes of athletes who were hungry. The Nittany Lions wanted to win.

8631669.jpeg"They were dialed in," Chambers said of his team. "They had that look, you know in the eyes, just that, 'I'm here, tell me what to do. Tell me what you want.'"

A little over a minute later, the Lions also had a chance.

A Jermaine Marshall three made it a tie game at 74 apiece with just 4:53 to play, and the 8,892 spectators in attendance rose to their feet. They didn't sit back down.

Two minutes later another timeout was called and Chambers found himself again surrounded by his team, but this time he felt something entirely different.

"I'm looking around like, is this great or what," said Chambers. "And I looked to them and I said, 'Are we having fun,' and they were like, 'We're having a great time.'"

And when the clock wound down, Chambers' team was the one celebrating. 

Penn State pulled ahead thanks to timely free throws from Marshall, Sasa Borovnjak and Nick Colella and held off the Wolverines to win it 84-78 in the Bryce Jordan Center.

After the fans stormed the court and the team had time to make their way back to the locker room, even D.J. Newbill cracked a smile.

"I think everybody put in hard work," said Newbill. "It's just a great feeling to see how happy the fans were and all of our team - this is a memory I'm going to have for my life."

The Lions prepared a tough defensive plan for the Wolverines and stuck to it, forcing 15 turnovers and scoring 20 coinciding points in return. Penn State also made shots when it counted, boasting a 50 percent mark beyond the three-point line (10-20) and shooting 20-of-27 at the line.

Marshall led the team with 25 points on the night, including 18 beyond the arc. The redshirt junior said that he and his teammates have been waiting for a win like this to come.

"We work so hard that we never want to give up," said Marshall. "We believe we can win any game. We believe in our team and we believe in each other and we're a family."

But Marshall said that the key to winning against a top-five team wasn't just about sinking shots and getting stops. The guard said that the most important thing that he and his teammates could do was to stick to their principles.

"Confidence, hard work and attitude," said Marshall. "That's what we've got to keep doing."

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State played their final home game last Sunday and claimed a victory over Michigan, but now the Lady Lions must focuses on closing out the regular season on the road. A contest at Minnesota will open the season-ending two-game road swing and presents an opportunity to lock up their second straight outright Big Ten championship.

Assistant coach Fred Chmiel gives us a quick scouting report, junior Maggie Lucas talks about the second meeting with Minnesota, and we've added a three-point play's worth of notes that are included below.

Two Lions on Drysdale Watch List: Senior Alex Bentley and junior Maggie Lucas are connected in many ways as members of the Lady Lions program and on Wednesday when the USBWA announced the Ann Meyers Drysdale Midseason Watch List they were linked once again.

Bentley and Lucas make Penn State one of four teams with multiple players on the list; along with Connecticut's three players and Baylor, Duke and Maryland each having two players on the list. The duo is the only set of guards on the list from the same program and proves that the Lady Lions continue to produce quality players from the guard position.

The duo is also on the Wade Watch List, Naismith Early Season Watch List and the Wooden Award Top 20 and has the opportunity to make Penn State the only school with two first team All-Big Ten performers at seasons end. Lucas leads the team in scoring at 19.9 points per game and adds 4.5 rebounds per contest, while Bentley pours in 13.8 points, 3.7 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Scoring on Display: I have watched every team in the Big Ten play this season and in my opinion there are not two better scorers in the conference than our very own Maggie Lucas and Minnesota's Rachel Banham. If you like scoring, tune into the BTN at 9 p.m. on Thursday, you won't be disappointed.

Outside of the numbers, Lucas' 19.1 points per game and Banham's 21.2 points per contest, these are two of the best pure shooters in the conference. Lucas has expanded her game this season and is generating her own offense and making plays all over the court. She has trimmed down her three point attempts each season on campus and has 13 20-point games this season.

Banham is one of the best scorers in the conference and Minnesota knows it. The sophomore has taken 200 more shots than any other Gophers player - hitting 44 percent of them - and leads the team and the Big Ten with 21.2 points per game. She is the only Big Ten players to make more than 200 field goals this season and is shooting nearly 90 percent from the free throw line, while pouring in 20 points 14 times this season and eclipsing the 30 point mark five times.

Taking Their Show on the Road: Penn State played their final home game on Feb. 24 and will play the remainder of their games away from the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center. That prospect could frighten most schools, but the Lady Lions have been road tested this season.

Penn State has logged some serious frequent flier miles since August and will have traveled nearly 32,000 miles when they arrive back from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. With two scheduled trips still on the ledger, the Lions, who are not animals known to be the flying kind, will have spread their wings for over 35,000 miles.

During that stretch, PSU has taken a goodwill trip to Europe, snapped Texas A&M's 58 game non-conference home court winning streak, won the Radisson Hotel Chatsworth Thanksgiving Tournament title and boast a 5-1 mark on the road in the Big Ten. Trips to play No. 2 UConn, Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech were also on the schedule to give Penn State the No. 5 RPI and No. 15 strength of schedule entering the weekend.

Follow's Greg Campbell on Twitter @SID_Greg


Men's Hoops Game Blog - FINAL: Penn State 84, No. 4 Michigan 78

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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 84-78 victory over No. 4 Michigan on Wednesday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.  The win marked Penn State's first over a top five team since beating No. 5 North Carolina on March 18, 2001 in the NCAA Tournament.

Starting Lineups:
Penn State -
G - Newbill, G - Colella, G - Marshall, F - Travis, F - Borovnjak
Michigan - G - Burke, G - Hardaway Jr., G - Stauskas, F - Robinson III, F - Morgan

15:43 1st Half - Penn State 8, Michigan 8
Head coach Patrick Chambers could not ask for much more in the way of effort during the first four minutes of action.  The Nittany Lions pulled down five offensive rebounds, including three on one possession before an old-fashioned three-point play from Ross Travis put the Lions up, 8-6.  Michigan freshman guard Nik Stauskas answered with a layup, but Penn State has competed well in the opening minutes.

11:46 1st Half - Michigan 17, Penn State 13
After the Travis three-point play, the Wolverines mounted an 11-2 scoring run, which included a 3-pointer from point guard Trey Burke.  Senior Nick Colella snapped the scoring spurt with a corner 3-pointer to pull the Lions back within four at 17-13.  Michigan has shot 60 percent in the opening eight minutes, but the Lions are well within striking distance thanks to the effort on the offensive glass.

7:36 1st Half - Michigan 24, Penn State 20
Despite shooting 36 percent, the Nittany Lions have played well during the first half.  Following a Jermaine Marshall 3-pointer set the score at 20-18, Michigan, the Wolverines notched basket from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Stauskas to make it a six-point game.  But Brandon Taylor came right back with a jumper to trim the lead back down to four.  Michigan has found too many easy baskets around the hoop, but the Lions continue to battle on the glass, which has the margin at two possessions.

3:49 1st Half - Michigan 30, Penn State 27
Michigan led by five (28-23) after a dunk from Hardaway, but the Nittany Lions answered in the form of a 1-2-2 three-quarters court press.  The trap changed the tempo with back-to-back turnovers, and it ultimately led to a transition jumper from Newbill and a layup from Colella, which set the score at 28-27 with 4:59 to paly.  Michigan forward Jordan Morgan pushed the Wolverine lead back up to three.  Penn State is 4-for-8 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Halftime - Michigan 39, Penn State 36
The Nittany Lions got contributions from a wide range of players during an entertaining first half of play in the Bryce Jordan Center.  The Wolverines led by as much as seven in the first half, but the scoring margin was never more than six in the final 13 minutes.  The Nittany Lions used four foul shots, two from Travis and two from Newbill to put the Lions up 34-32 with 2:00 to play in the first half.  Michigan then closed the half with a 7-2 scoring spurt to make it 39-36 at the break.

Taylor, Travis and Newbill each finished with seven tallies.  Marshall added six points.  Colella scored five points and Borovnjak added four.  Stauskas paced Michigan with nine points.  The Wolverines shot 54 percent, while the Lions shot 42 percent from the field.  Penn State finished the first half 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.  Penn State played a very good half of basketball, but the Lions need to limit Michigan's easy baskets.  Nonetheless, the Nittany Lions are well within striking distance with 20 minutes to play.

15:45 2nd Half - Michigan 49, Penn State 43
Michigan stormed out of the locker room, scoring eight-straight points to push the lead to double digits for the first time.  A Hardaway transition dunk prompted a Penn State timeout with the score at 47-36.  But the Nittany Lions had an answer with six of the next eight tallies, including five from Marshall.  His 3-pointer at 16:13 trimmed the Michigan lead down to six to set the score at 49-43.  The Nittany Lions did a nice job weathering the Wolverine run, but stops on the defensive end of the floor are crucial moving ahead.

11:33 2nd Half - Michigan 64, Penn State 51
A foul line jumper from Travis cut Michigan's lead down to just four at 49-45 with 15:32 on the clock.  However, back-to-back Michigan 3-pointers in a span of 18 seconds triggered an 11-2 scoring spurt from the Wolverines, which put the maize and blue back up by double digits at 60-47.  The teams exchanged baskets before Jordan Morgan added a dunk to put Michigan back up by 13.  The story on the defensive end has been the same for most of the night.  Michigan has taken advantage of 38 points in the paint.

7:15 2nd half - Michigan 72, Penn State 63
After Michigan's lead grew to 15 (66-51), the Nittany Lions answered by taking the ball to the basket.  The end result was a 9-2 scoring run, all of which coming at the foul line, which made it a 68-60 game before Burke drained a jumper.  Marshall countered with a 3-pointer to make it 70-63, but the superbly talented Burke added another jumper to extend the margin to nine heading into the media timeout at 72-63.

3:55 2nd Half - Penn State 74, Michigan 74
Thanks to red-hot shooting from Marshall, the Nittany Lions erased what was once a 15-point deficit to tie the game at 74-74.  The junior guard has a career-high six 3-pointers (6-10) and 21 points.  In all, the Penn State run has been 23-8 covering 6:20 of game time.  The Bryce Jordan Center roared with approval when Marshall's 3-pointer from the top of the arc sailed through the net to square things at 74.

FINAL - Penn State 84, Michigan 78
Penn State's tireless work ethic on the practice floor and night-in and night-out in games paid off on Wednesday night with a tremendous performance in a thrilling 84-78 upset of No. 4 Michigan.  It was a complete team effort down the stretch, but you have to give the game ball to Jermaine Marshall, who poured in 25 points on 6-for-10 from 3-point range.  D.J. Newbill scored 17 in the win, while Ross Travis added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

The Nittany Lions trailed 66-51 with 10:39 to play, but the Lions stormed to a 9-2 run to pull within eight.  In all, the scoring run ballooned to 26-8 after Borovnjak knocked down two free throws for the injured Travis to put Penn State on top by a 77-74 margin.  The Wolverines pulled within one at 79-78 with 1:21 to play before Marshall drove into the paint for a swooping lay-in to put the Lions up 81-78 at the 1:06 mark.  Michigan did not score again, and the senior duo of Colella and Borovnjak iced the game at the foul line with three-straight free throws.  It's only fitting that the seniors had the opportunity to finish things off on Senior Night.

"Our hard work, we feel like, finally paid off," Newbill said.  "We wanted to make our friends (who have supported us all season in the crowd) feel proud."

"Our foundation is based upon attitude," Newbill said. "We can easily get down on ourselves...Or we can work hard and make a change, play with confidence."

"Words can't express how I feel right now for these kids," Chambers said.

"It's great to feel victory again.  It has been so long. It's great to win," Chambers said.


Pregame Thoughts:
The Nittany Lions will honor their two seniors - Nick Colella and Sasa Borovnjak - prior to tonight's tip with the Wolverines. 
Colella's path to the Nittany Lion starting lineup is nothing short of remarkable.  The New Castle, Pa., native spent the first two seasons of his career at Penn State-Behrend (NCAA Div. III) before transferring to the University Park campus in 2010.  Colella was then a practice player for the Lady Lion basketball team during his first month on campus before impressing the men's coaching staff at an open walk-on tryout.

Borovnjak has stamped his place as the team's third scoring option in recent games.  Things have begun to click for the Belgrade, Serbia native, who is averaging 16.0 points per game in his last three outings.
  Borovnjak's surge in recent weeks is a direct by-product of his hard work on and off the floor.  A regular in the gym working on getting extra shots and extra lifting sessions, Borovnjak is putting in the time necessary to take his game to the next level.  He is never satisfied with his play, and the 6-foot-9 forward has made it a habit to even review practice film to critique his play.

As for the matchup with Michigan, the Nittany Lions pushed the Wolverines for 40 minutes in the first meeting between the two teams in Ann Arbor 10 days ago before falling, 79-71.  Offensively, the Nittany Lions will again need to make shots to keep pace with high-powered Wolverines.  While the Lions need to make shots, Coach Chambers stressed on Monday that getting stops at key points will be critical moving forward.  The Wolverines are in the thick of the Big Ten title race, so the Nittany Lions will need to match their intensity for 40 minutes and play a complete game on both ends of the floor.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: This Week In Penn State Wrestling - Feb. 27

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are off from competition this week in preparation of the 2013 Big Ten Championships, which begin on March 9 in Champaign, Ill.  With the break prior to the postseason, had the opportunity to sit down with 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner for the latest installment of This Week In Penn State Wrestling.

Varner recently returned from a USA Wrestling trip overseas where he competed at a tournament in Bulgaria.  Additionally, Varner was on the U.S. delegation in Iran at the Freestyle World Cup.  Hear his thoughts on Olympic wrestling, Penn State and more.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Handling the Offense for the First Time: Taylor Hammond

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Competitive. Intense. Random. Easy-going. Leader.

These are all words that redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond's teammates used to describe him. But if you ask the man himself, Hammond couldn't pinpoint just one to sum up his entire personality.

"A lot of the things that come out of my mouth aren't serious," laughed Hammond.  "So I don't know how they would describe me."

8560696 (1).jpegLast year the 6-foot-4 setter never saw the floor, waiting in the ranks behind senior AVCA All-American Edgardo Goas. In his second season with the Nittany Lions and first as an active member of the roster, Hammond has made an immediate impact.

He's controlled the Penn State offense in all 54 sets that the team has played this season, and recorded 595 assists in just 15 matches. What's more is that the first-year starter has quickly become a leader among his veteran teammates.

"I think this team has kind of asked me to step into more of a leadership role," said Hammond. "We've got a lot of quieter guys on the court and not in a bad way, it's just kind of how it is. Being more of a vocal leader on the court and just making sure that everybody's on the same page - that's my job."

And although Hammond is new to the court in a blue and white uniform, volleyball is something that he's been around for longer than he can remember. His father, Doug Hammond, was also a volleyball player and had a big influence on his son.

"Volleyball was kind of just what I did," said Hammond. "I started playing at a very, very young and have always been around the sport. [My dad] played on the beach and I just kind of fell in love with the game and was always around it."

The Mission Viejo, Calif. native said that one of things he liked most about the sport growing up was the close-knit community that came with it.

"I love the atmosphere around it," said Hammond. "It's always a good, friendly atmosphere and win or lose everybody is just buddies. This team is the same way."

Hammond said that it was an easy transition coming into the Penn State volleyball program and, after less than two years in Happy Valley, the 20-year-old said that he already feels like a part of the family. That tight connection and close bond that he's created with his teammates off the court is something that he said has also really helped him as a setter.

And his teammates have noticed.

Senior opposite Tom Comfort said that he's already seen an improvement in Hammond's game from the beginning of the season. Comfort acknowledged the fact that his new setter is quickly learning how to successfully run a top-ranked offense.

"Your hitter makes an error, he'll go right back to you because he has that trust in you and he has that faith in you," said Comfort. "You love playing for a guy like Taylor because he's got the heart and soul of the team."

A Fitting End to Nittany Lions First Season on the Ice

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By Pat White Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--Penn State men's hockey (13-14) wrapped up its season with a comeback, 3-2 overtime victory against No. 16 Wisconsin (14-11-7) at the Kohl Center on Monday night. Wisconsin marked the third Big Ten team the Nittany Lions defeated after wins against Ohio State and at Michigan State earlier in the season.

Holstrom-Taylor (2).jpegIt was only appropriate that Penn State would conclude its season the same way it won its first game as a Division I program; with overtime heroics. Penn State has been a resilient team, and head coach Guy Gadowsky liked the heart his team showed to battle out of a 0-2 hole.

"I give [our players] a lot of credit for gritting it out against a very good team," Gadowsky told following the game." [Wisconsin] is great when they get a lead and a tough team to get back on."

Junior forward Taylor Holstrom (Yorba Linda, Calif.) continued his hot streak, despite having his eight game point streak snapped on Sunday in the 5-0 loss to the Badgers. He rebounded with two goals, including the game-winning overtime tally on the backhand, on Monday night. Holstrom has amassed eight goals and six assists in his final 10 games of the season, after only tallying three points in his first 13 games.

Holstrom's game-winning marker was his third of the season, all of which have come against future Big Ten opponents.

After being outshot 51-22 on Sunday night, Penn State needed to get more pucks at the net and create more offense.

"We wanted to get more pucks on net," Gadowsky said. "We did a better job [Monday] and that's a tough team to generate offense on."

Penn State rebounded on Monday with 36 shots, and did a much better job of testing Wisconsin goaltender Landon Peterson as all three goals were products of shooting the puck and crashing the net.

Holstom's first goal was a shot from the right circle that beat Peterson to the short side. Freshman forward Casey Bailey (Anchorage, Alaska) tied the game at two on the power play by pushing the puck on net that slipped between Peterson's legs. The overtime tally was generated by Holstrom throwing the puck on net and crashing the net to find the puck in a scramble in front.

With Bailey's power play goal, the Nittany Lions improved their record to 10-2 when scoring on the man-advantage. The power play was a struggle for the team all season, but when it was clicking, it was a major factor in wins.

Freshman goaltender Matt Skoff (McKees Rocks, Pa.) came up huge, tying his career-high with 42 saves vs. the Badgers in the win. After a slow start to the season, Skoff arose as the lead man for the Nittany Lions between the pipes.

Wisconsin brought offensive pressure right out of the gate and Skoff was forced to be sharp early. He tracked the puck well and displayed great lateral movement, robbing multiple Badgers from the back side.

Like the victory on Jan.26 at Michigan State, the Nittany Lions fell into a 0-2 hole. Skoff found himself facing a 2-on-0 with two Wisconsin forwards and couldn't keep up with some tick-tack-toe passing and Mark Zengerle beat him high to give Wisconsin the early lead. With 6:41 left in the second Joseph LaBate just fired a puck at the net from a weird angle and the puck avoided Skoff.

Being a freshman goaltender playing in a Big Ten arena against a ranked team can be very stressful. After letting in the second goal, Gadowsky liked Skoff's mental toughness to bear down and shut out the Badgers the rest of the game.

 "That [second goal] is a tough goal to give up, in a tough environment and a tough time," Gadowsky said. "Instead of hanging his head, he re-focused. It was a tremendous job by Skoff."

Gadowsky said before the weekend matchup with Wisconsin that a rivalry would be on the rise, depending on what happens this weekend. Penn State beat a Wisconsin team on the road that was 5-3-2 in its last 10 games and coming off an upset victory against No. 2 Minnesota. The win was a big boost to the Penn State program, and a proper farewell for the seniors.

"I'm so happy for the seniors because this is such a great way for them to go out," said Gadowsky. "They've done so much for us. This is their playoffs, this is their final test and they were tremendous."

Penn State concluded its season with a 13-14 record and was 3-2 against teams they will face next season in the newly formed Big Ten Conference.


VIDEO: Exclusive One-on-One with Safeties Coach Anthony Midget

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - sat down with new Penn State safeties coach Anthony Midget for a one-on-one interview with the newest member of the Nittany Lion coaching staff.

Midget comes to Penn State after serving on the Georgia State coaching staff since 2008.  He was the Georgia State defensive coordinator in 2012.  A four-year letterwinner, three-year starter and third-team All-American cornerback at Virginia Tech, Midget was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2000.  Take a look at an exclusive interview with Coach Midget with discussions on his first couple weeks on the job, coaching style, spring practice and more.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Lion Seniors to be Honored Before Meeting No. 4 Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will honor their two seniors - Nick Colella and Sasa Borovnjak - prior to Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. tip with No. 4 Michigan.

The road to Senior Night has been anything but easy for both players, and maybe that is why they have become such close friends.

8624556.jpegColella's path to the Nittany Lion starting lineup is nothing short of remarkable.  The New Castle, Pa., native spent the first two seasons of his career at Penn State-Behrend (NCAA Div. III) before transferring to the University Park campus in 2010.  Colella was then a practice player for the Lady Lion basketball team during his first month on campus before impressing the men's coaching staff at an open walk-on tryout.

After earning a spot on the roster, Colella has made the most of his opportunity by evolving into one of the team's hardest workers.  He played a significant role in starting six-straight Big Ten games last season.  This year, the left-hander has been a key member of the rotation, seeing action in all 26 games and starting in eight Big Ten contests.

Colella is a relentless worker anytime he steps into a gym, putting his body on the line for the betterment of the team on both ends of the floor.  And he has played some of the best basketball in his career during the last few weeks.

The same can be said for Borovnjak, who has stamped his place as the team's third scoring option in recent games.  Things have begun to click for the Belgrade, Serbia native, who is averaging 16.0 points per game in his last three outings.

Borovnjak's surge in recent weeks is a direct by-product of his hard work on and off the floor.  A regular in the gym working on getting extra shots and extra lifting sessions, Borovnjak is putting in the time necessary to take his game to the next level.  He is never satisfied with his play, and the 6-foot-9 forward has made it a habit to even review practice film to critique his play.

During his time in Happy Valley, Borovnjak has seen just about everything.  He played in 18 games as a true freshman during the 2009-10 campaign.  After a strong offseason where it looked as though Borovnjak would compete for significant time in the Lions' front line, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee during the team's first official practice.  He missed every game in 2010-11, a season in which the Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Back from injury, Borovnjak saw action in all 32 games while averaging 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 2011-12.  Nonetheless, the Lion forward saved his best basketball for last.  Borovnjak has started in 18 of Penn State's 26 games this season, and he has found consistency with his mid-range jumper and post offense in the second half of the Big Ten season.

The senior duo shares similarities in their work ethic on the floor, but outside of basketball, one being from Serbia and the other from Western Pennsylvania, it would not seem as though they share much more in common. 

But that couldn't be further from the truth.  During his injury season in 2010-11, Borovnjak and Colella formed a bond.  Neither player traveled to road games during much of that season, so they created a friendship off the court.  Colella took Borovnjak to his house for holidays, and the two have been great friends ever since.

Asking the underclassmen on the Nittany Lion roster what they hope to take away from the two seniors, without hesitation they said the work ethic Colella and Borovnjak bring to the team.  Neither player is exceptionally vocal, but they don't have to be because they leave everything on the floor every time they lace up their shoes.

Both Colella and Borovnjak will look to help the Nittany Lions score their first Big Ten win of the season on Senior Night against the fourth-ranked Wolverines at 6:30 p.m. (BTN) inside the Jordan Center.  The Lions gave Michigan all it could handle in the first meeting between the two teams just 10 days ago in Ann Arbor.

If the Lions are able to breakthrough and win on Wednesday night, its two seniors will need to continue what they have done throughout the 2012-13 season - play hard, tough, blue-collar basketball.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions to Build Off Setbacks at Liberty

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By Scott Traweek, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (1-5) suffered a setback in its second series at Liberty last weekend, falling short in all three contests against the Flames.  Despite the result, the Nittany Lions are looking to build on the positives and learn from the negatives.

Walkling-Dave.jpegGame one saw Penn State take the lead in the first inning as sophomore first baseman J.J. White singled with two outs and runners on first and second to score freshman left fielder James Coates.  The Nittany Lions played to their strengths by using speed and consistency to manufacture a run early.

Senior pitcher Dave Walkling held Liberty at bay, posting an impressive performance and throwing six innings, allowing just one run on three hits with four strikeouts.

Penn State threatened again in the second inning, putting a runner on first and second with two outs, but Coates flied out to centerfield to end the inning.  The Nittany Lions outhit the Flames 9-6 on the afternoon.

Liberty caught fire with one out in the seventh inning when junior Danny Grauer struck out swinging, but reached first on a wild pitch.  A single moved him to second and a walk loaded the bases for senior Trey Wimmer, batting .500 on the year, who singled tp plate a pair of RBIs.  The Flames would score three in the inning, which sealed the 4-1 victory despite a ninth-inning rally by the Nittany Lions.

Penn State's struggles continued on Sunday as Liberty, who defeated fifth-ranked South Carolina last weekend, scored 12 runs in the second game of the series, seven in the seventh inning alone, and put the game out of reach for an offense that was having a hard time finding a consistent rhythm.

Following the loss, the Nittany Lions had to regroup in under an hour for the second game of the double header.  Confidence shaken, Penn State fell behind 3-0 early in the third game of the series and was unable to recover.

It was a forgettable series for the coaches and players who were just beginning an 18-game road stretch that won't get any easier.  The key for the Nittany Lions will be to remain calm and focus on one game at a time.

Despite struggling early, Penn State is a young team.  The coaches and players are searching for an identity on offense and are trying to solidify a pitching staff that will compete when Big Ten play arrives.

The Nittany Lions have already seen veterans set the tone both offensively and defensively.  Senior Matt Paradise has started three games at third base with a flawless fielding percentage and a .333 batting average.  Walkling leads the pitching staff in innings pitched (12.0) and leads the starting rotation in ERA at 3.00.

Young talent has emerged as a number of players battle for starting spots.  Sophomore Taylor Skerpon leads the team in batting average at .357 followed by Coates, who has started in all six games thus far, with a .350 clip.  Sophomore J.C. Coban leads the team with five RBIs, bolstered by a homerun and a .292 batting average.

On the mound, freshman Jack Anderson has thrown three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.  Sophomore transfer Ryan Harper has pitched in five and one-third innings and boasts a 3.38 ERA.

Penn State has faced adversity before and every challenge and obstacle offers an opportunity to learn and grow.  As the season progresses, the pieces will fall into place, because the talent is there and it's very early in the 56-game schedule. 

With the approach of an eight-game spring break trip to Texas, the Nittany Lions look to gather momentum before returning north for the start of the home season followed by the Big Ten season.


Talented Freshman Class Making an Early Impact

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The Nittany Lions have relied on the play of talented freshmen their first two games of 2013, and it looks like that trend will continue throughout the remainder of the season.

8600391 (1).jpegHead coach Missy Doherty highlighted three players, Madison Cyr, Ally Heavens and Jenna Mosketti, as key freshman on her roster. All three have stepped up and done a tremendous job thus far.

These freshmen have been a big part of one of Doherty's best recruiting classes since becoming the coach at Penn State. They will help the Nittany Lions immediately, as well as become e a major part of the future of the program.

"She wanted to turn this program around and make it a top school like Maryland or Northwestern and that's what all of us looked for," midfielder Ally Heavens said.  "We didn't want to play for a school that was satisfied with where they were, that's what's great about Missy and the team."

Upperclassmen like Molly Fernandez and Mackenzie Cyr said these freshmen are impressive on the practice field and even more so during games.

"The biggest thing we get from the upperclassman is [they believe] in all of us and we can play to their ability," Heavens said. "If we didn't have that, we wouldn't play to our highest potential."

The three played a crucial role in the Lions' first two games, one win and one loss, scoring a combined 10 goals, including a hat trick from Mosketti in a win against Bucknell.

Mosketti followed up her hat trick with a two-goal performance against Loyola in a 13-11 setback last Saturday. Heavens joined Mosketti with two goals of her own and Madison Cyr had her second of the season.

"It's exciting but I don't think you really realize it's your first college goal, because I didn't really think about it until after the game was over," Madison Cyr said.

The three midfielders have started to push one another to get better and to compete. They say their practices are intense, so it is hard not to push one another to be better and work harder.

"Even though we're all middies, we compete for our spots. We're always pushing each other. We're all working for one thing, to win and to be a top team like Missy wants," Heavens said.

"[College lacrosse is] a lot faster pace, and more intense. All practice it's continuous. In high school, you play and then stop, but here, all practice it's the same intensity," Mosketti said.

Along with these three, the Nittany Lions also rely on the play of freshman goalkeeper Emi Smith, who has improved every day. The Denver native is another huge part of the future for the program.

"She doesn't really act like a freshman in goal, which is good, because she's not standing there nervous to save it. She is confident in herself. When she makes a save she cheers for herself which helps her a lot," Mosketti said.

The three freshmen have also credited their coaches for their early success saying they've been great to them and help them work harder everyday. The coaches have helped improve their confidence and allowed them to play up to their potential.

"With all of our staff and new things brought to the table, we're definitely more confident to play against Northwestern, Florida, Maryland and all them," Heavens said.

Mosketti also said the upperclassmen have been a huge part of their confidence building as a team early in the season.

"When we first came in it was like, 'Oh my god, we have to play Northwestern, Maryland all those teams,' but now that we're here were more confident," Mosketti said.

Madison Cyr has an advantage most freshmen don't have. Her older sister, Mackenzie, is a staple on this team and has helped her along the way. Her first goal came courtesy of big sister in a win over Bucknell.

"It's exciting. She is always there. If I make a good play she is one of the first people to congratulate me and if I'm having problems on or off the field she is always there, which is awesome," Madison Cyr said. "I think we know each other's style of play, she can be behind the goal and nod her head and I know to cut. We just know how each other plays."

The three have also emerged as leaders on and off the field. With a team that only has three seniors, the younger players were going to have to step up and set an example, which these three have done.

"I'm more vocal, and Jenna does more stuff in action, everyone is different. It comes with every team, people are all nervous, but now we're just like a family now and it's so much better," Heavens said.

"I never talk on the field, but I didn't have a choice, I had to. You just have to learn and be more confident," Mosketti said.

Penn State is coming off a close, 13-11, loss against Loyola last Saturday. The team has been practicing all week and feels ready to move on from the setback.

"We have to work harder each time cause it's tough to lose,' Mosketti said.

The Nittany Lions look to get back on the winning track Wednesday when they travel to Duquesne for a 7 p.m. showdown. The star freshmen all agree they need to work harder to get back to winning.

"The best advice we got is from our trainer. It's another painting on the wall, it's behind us. We have to realize it was a loss and now we have to learn from it. It's like Missy and the upperclassmen all say, it was just one loss we have to learn from it," Heavens said.

Lions Turn Focus to First CHA Postseason

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By: Sean Flanery, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After falling in the final series of the regular season, the Nittany Lions will move forward into their first ever College Hockey America tournament appearance.

Gross-Taylor.jpegThis past Friday and Saturday, Penn State (7-24-2, 1-17-2 CHA) rounded out its inaugural regular season falling by scores of 4-1 and 4-2, respectively, to Robert Morris (13-14-3, 9-10-1). Despite the results, there were a number of bright points in the final series of the regular season.

In the first game, Friday night, Penn State held a 1-0 lead for half of the game, as junior goaltender Nicole Paniccia was stellar between the pipes for the Blue and White holding the Colonials scoreless in the first 30:22 of the contest.

In the regular season finale on Saturday, the Lions held strong with the Colonials keeping it even in the first period, but a tough second period for Penn State would prove to be the two-goal difference in the game. In the first period of action, Robert Morris struck with just over four minutes remaining, but the Nittany Lions had a quick answer scoring just moments later; 24 seconds later to be exact.

"I think the best thing that we did was in the second game when they scored and we answered right away," said Paniccia. "Sometimes, when the opponent scores we'll get down and it takes us a couple shifts to get back in it, but they scored on us and instead of getting down we came right back and scored a quick goal the next shift. That was something huge for us to get over the goal and score right away."

While taking away a few pointers from the final series of the regular season, the Lions will now look to prepare for their first CHA tournament appearance where they will square off with Rochester Institute of Technology (4-15-5, 7-8-5 CHA) in the best-of-three first round.

"Right when the game ended on Saturday we told everyone it doesn't matter about records anymore," said Paniccia. "It's a clean slate, it doesn't matter how many games anyone won. Everybody starts from scratch. We are kind of just taking the mentality that anything can happen in Division I hockey. We're ready to hopefully have a few big upsets when we get to the playoffs."

In the regular season, the Tigers got the best of the Lions in three of the four games the teams played against each other. However, the Lions did manage to tally a point against RIT on Oct. 26 in Happy Valley, finishing in a 2-2 tie.

So, if there is one team the Lions know they can compete with in the playoffs it would be the Tigers. In that game on Oct. 26, where the Nittany Lions recorded their first ever CHA point with a tie, the team held a one-goal advantage for much of the game until RIT capitalized on the power play with just 1:29 remaining in the third period.

Knowing that they came so close to defeating this team should give the Nittany Lions a lot of confidence to build upon during practice this week.

Penn State junior forward Taylor Gross said the captains will have to instill a message within the team this week before traveling to Rochester, N.Y. for the first game in a best of three series on Friday at 2 p.m.

"Just relaying the fact that playoffs are crazy and anything can happen in the playoffs," said Gross. "It doesn't matter what happened earlier this season, the only thing that matters now is the next couple of games."



Lions' Great Effort Trumps Tough OT Loss

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By Pat White, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Coming down the stretch, the eighth-ranked Penn State men's lacrosse team was playing some its most inspired lacrosse of the early season against third-ranked Notre Dame. It appeared as though there might be an upset brewing in an electric environment at Holuba Hall in front of the Penn State faithful.

8620994.jpegFor the second straight season, the Nittany Lions (2-1) and Fighting Irish (2-0) duked it out and needed overtime to decide a winner. In a game that saw 18 goals, seven ties and three goals in 24 seconds to end regulation, Notre Dame ultimately prevailed with a game-winning goal by freshman Matt Kavanagh with 1:34 left in overtime.

Despite the heartbreaking loss for the Nittany Lions, head coach Jeff Tambroni was pleased with his teams' effort.

"There's a difference between losing a game and failing to create an effort on the field," Tambroni said. "Notre Dame was one goal better in overtime, but that's high praise because Notre Dame is a very good lacrosse team."

In a rollercoaster game, Penn State held an 8-7 lead in the last minute of play. Notre Dame tied the game with 24 seconds left, and took the lead on a goal on the ensuing faceoff just seven seconds later. Tambroni credited Notre Dame's persistence to tie and take the lead late in the game after trailing so late.

The Nittany Lions battled back with some fight of their own with 17 seconds left on the clock. Junior midfielder Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) had magic in his stick, dodging at the restraining line and letting fly a left-handed shot on the run that beat Notre Dame's All-American goalkeeper John Kemp to force overtime with .6 seconds remaining in regulation.

"My teammates [cleared] through because they realized there was no time left," LaCrosse said. "They let me get to my left and I shot it at the goal and hoped for the best."

It was a big goal for the junior, who scored three goals against Notre Dame and has stepped into a bigger scoring role this season for the Nittany Lions. Tambroni credits his team's mental toughness to not get discouraged after surrendering the lead.

"To have the peace of mind to win a faceoff and then to have the poise, knowing the clock is running down to get a good shot against a first team All-American goalie," Tambroni said, "that says a lot about [LaCrosse] and a lot about our team."

Tambroni said that Penn State did not lose the game due to a lack of effort. Both teams played an evenly matched game across the board and played in a defensive battle. Junior goalkeeper Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) is proud of the team's effort and said the game was decided on by one more good chance by Notre Dame.

"We knew it was going to be a defensive battle all day," Kaut said. "Both teams played really well and it just comes down to maybe working a little harder and getting one more ground ball."

The effort also came in large part from depth at the midfield. Redshirt junior Kyle VanThof (Penfield, N.Y.) and sophomore Kyle Zittel (Eden, N.Y.) scored key goals to give Penn State a two-goal lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Freshman Sammy Davis (Pittsfield, Mass.), sophomore Michael Richards (
Skaneateles, N.Y.) and junior Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.) played great on the defensive end and provided Kaut with options in the clearing game that finished 23-for-24 on the day.

Tambroni hopes that Penn State and Notre Dame can rekindle a rivalry that stems from the epic battles on the football field in past years.  Notre Dame has been a national powerhouse lacrosse program for the last six years and Tambroni can see a rivalry coming if Penn State continues to build as a program.

"I hope we get to the point where they consider us a rival," Tambroni said. "If we get to that point when people put us in that conversation with Notre Dame, then we'll take that as a compliment."

Despite playing well, the team has to put the emotional loss on the backburner and turn its focus to the upcoming game against Ohio State.

"We played real hard today and competed," Kaut said. "We just have to think about the next game, Ohio State this weekend, and put this one behind us."

Seniors Close Out Home Schedule with Title

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In their final game at the Bryce Jordan Center, the Lady Lion senior class ended their home careers in style in front of a crowd of over 14,000 in the seventh annual Pink Zone at Penn State game.

8621079.jpegIt was the last game for the senior class of five that guided Coquese Washington's program back to the top of the Big Ten conference, while supporting breast cancer survivors and their fight against the disease.

So, it was only fitting to not only to celebrate the senior class and honor survivors of breast cancer, but clinch a share of the Big Ten regular season title, as well.

That was exactly how Alex Bentley, Mia Nickson, Gizelle Studevent, Nikki Greene and Marisa Wolfe wanted to end their careers; at home in front of the fans that saw them transform the program onto a national stage.

"I think that when we reflect, we came in with a vision, Coquese's vision, and we all came in with the same thoughts of getting the program back to where it was," said Nickson. "I think we all bought into [the vision] and worked really hard. The pieces just kept adding and we kept working hard and kept listening [to coach Washington]."

When the group of five came to Penn State, they led the Lady Lions back to postseason play in the NIT in their first season.

Then, in year two, it was to the second round of the NCAA tournament. One year ago, they lead Penn State to the Big Ten regular season title and to the Sweet 16.

In 2012-13, they hung another banner and are continuing to make strides toward another deep run into the tournament after clinching the regular season conference title on Sunday.

However, one member of the senior class had been unable to join them on the floor this season due to an injury and that is another reason why it was a special day at the BJC. Marisa Wolfe saw her first action of the season as Washington started all five of her seniors together, one last time.

"Well, we had to get clearance from the doctors to be out there for 30 seconds," said Washington. "This senior class has gone through a lot, and she earned and deserved the opportunity to wear her uniform one last time. There was no way we weren't going to try and find a way for her to be on the court today."

It was only for 31 seconds, but it was special, not only for Wolfe, but for her teammates as well. Bentley called it amazing and Nickson showed how it was an emotional moment for her during the postgame press conference.

These moments, on and off the court, define the Lady Lion class that laced their shoes up for the last time in their home arena on Sunday.

By being selfless, goal oriented and leaders, they took the vision created by their head coach and made it a reality.

"They have meant so much to this program," said Washington about her senior class. "Their faith and their belief in Penn State has been tremendous. This class said 'yes' to Penn State when we were in the midst of the worst period of Lady Lion basketball.

"It takes a lot of faith and trust and confidence to want to come put a program on your back and on your shoulders. These five ladies did that. They said they would change the program, the expectations, the culture and the way that people think about Lady Lion basketball across the country."

As for the part about being selfless, Washington told the media that Senior Day wasn't originally going to occur on the same day as the Pink Zone event. However, her seniors vetoed that plan because of the appreciation they had for those that attended the yearly event.

"They wanted to share this moment with the community and all the people that support our program and our dreams," said Washington. "That's who I am proud of. Those women are going to leave here as Penn Staters and will continue to make this university proud."

Their leadership will not go unnoticed either, as the underclassmen now have a glimpse of what it takes to be elite and junior guard Maggie Lucas recognized that after the game.

"We are going to miss these seniors and we just want to keep it going as long as possible because I don't want my last game to be with these seniors anytime soon," said Lucas. "We just want to keep battling and keep getting better."

Penn State will finish their regular season on the road against Minnesota and Nebraska before heading to Hoffman Estates, Ill. for the Big Ten tournament at the Sears Center.



Men's Swimming and Diving Looks Ahead to Big Ten Championships

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By Chelsea Howard, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With just a few days left before the Nittany Lion men's swimmers and divers pack their bags and travel to Bloomington, Ind. for the 2013 Big Ten Championships, the athletes are ready to put their hard work and their past six months of training to the test.

8620808.jpegConsistently ranked by the College Swimming Coaches Association throughout the course of the season, the Nittany Lions have climbed as high as 17th in the nation. The rankings released on Feb. 20 show the swimmers and divers ranked 24th. They have used this recognition as motivation throughout the season and as a confidence builder for the team as a whole.

"We've been more confident going into this Big Tens compared to last year because we had such a good season and have been in the rankings," Andrew Sideras said. "We have a lot of new people contributing this year, so the atmosphere is a lot more positive and we're all motivated to reach our goals."

Penn State added 11 new freshmen to the roster this year and they have all made a difference to the team atmosphere in their own way. As a young team, they will have to follow the lead of the upperclassmen to be successful in their first college championship meet.

"The freshmen have made a pretty big impact especially on the attitude of the team," captain Chris Cipolla said. "They're awesome guys that have made this whole year fun. They've worked hard all season and most of them have stepped up in dual meets. They're going to be the one's who have to step up in the spots that we need them to in order to make a difference in how we finish at Big Tens."

With two championship meets already behind him, Cipolla now understands what it's going to take to improve from their sixth place finish last year. Leading the way in the 200 Breastroke and 400 Individual Medley, Cipolla added points to the overall team score last year by getting into the scoring heats in prelims.

"The key is going to be swimming fast in the morning and getting it done then," Cipolla said. "Getting those top eight spots and stepping up in the morning is where the points come from. Other than that we'll just have to stay relaxed and keep doing what we've been doing with a positive mindset and go from there. We've worked really hard, it's just a matter of time before it pays off."

Of the newcomers, Will Lee has been a part of the class to help change the direction of the team. With his first Big Tens coming up, Lee has relied on the experience from the upperclassmen to help him prepare for the week of racing to come.

"The older guys just have more experience than us," Lee said. "They've been to Big Tens before and they've told us how everything works. They've also stressed that it doesn't matter how we feel during the meet physically, we can still have great swims."

One aspect that Lee has noticed this past week is a change in the team's frame of mind going into this meet compared to dual meets. This past week with the women away at their own Big Ten Conference meet, the men had a chance to get excited for fast swimming and bond even more.

"There's a whole different mentality going into this meet and over the past week compared to any dual meet," Lee said. "We've been hyped up for this meet throughout the whole year and it has been our focus since August. We just swim through dual meets, get our times and keep training. But this is much bigger. Everyone's excited and getting anxious to leave."

Sean Grier has been a standout performer all year rewriting several of the team records as well as McCoy Natatorium pool records. According to, Grier is currently ranked fourth in the nation in the 100 Backstroke and 13th in the 100 Butterfly. He will be one to watch throughout the weekend as a huge contributor for the Nittany Lions.

Additionally, Grier has been a part of the 200 and 400 Medley relays along with James Wilson and Nate Savoy. These events will be crucial to the team since they add double points to the team score. The 400 Medley relay stands 14th nationally while the 200 Medley relay is ranked 16th. Ohio State and Michigan are the only Big Ten Schools ahead of Penn State.

Championship action for the men starts on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Bloomington, Ind. Competition continues through Saturday night in the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center where the Nittany Lions look to end one of their best seasons yet on a high note. 

Burbar's School Record Highlights Nittany Lions Victory

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By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- Going into Saturday night's dual meet against Springfield, Penn State junior Wasef Burbar could feel a breakout performance from himself looming.

Burbar-Wasef.jpegHaving registered a 15.800 on the high bar in the team's previous dual meet, and having recovered from some early struggles vs. the Pride, Burbar knew his best routine of the season had yet to occur.

"Coming off of last meet I had been a little surprised at registering a 15.800," said Burbar. "That helped me realize how high I can score and how good I can be on the high bar."

Burbar emphatically proved how good on the high bar he could be with a dazzling routine that earned a school record score of 16.000 and ended up as the most memorable moment in the Nittany Lions 446.850-403.300 victory.

The announcement of the score, which now stands as the fourth highest score in NCAA history, sent the fans in Rec Hall into a frenzy and earned Burbar the adulation of his coaches and teammates.

"The feeling is indescribable to be perfectly honest," said Burbar. "I never thought I'd get a score that high and to hear it over the loudspeaker means the world for me."

The person most pleased with Burbar's performance was head coach Randy Jepson, who has been waiting for Burbar to show his potential on the high bar.

After watching him struggle to hit his routines consistently early in the season, Jepson knew it was only a matter of time before Burbar started displaying what he can truly do in a meet.

"Wasef hadn't met his own expectations and it's nice to see him confident and having fun while doing gymnastics," said Jepson. "It almost seemed he had a piano on his back his first couple of years but he's comfortable with his routines now and it's really showing."

Another Nittany Lion who continued to thrill the fans with his talent and versatility was freshmen Trevor Howard, who took the top spot in the rings, vault, and parallel bars, with his highest score coming on the rings with a 15.800.

Howard, who typically has competed in the all-around competition this season, was limited to just those three events after returning from a minor injury, yet still appeared to be on the top of his game.

"Having just come back I was kind of added to the lineup last minute," said Howard. "Being able to rock those events was definitely a confidence booster that I'm still in pretty good shape."

Senior captain Parker Raque, who competed in four of the night's six events, also had an excellent overall night.

The highlight for Raque came at the start of the meet, when he earned a season best score on the floor exercise with a 15.050 to finish first in the event.

"I feel like I've been trying to get in my zone on floor exercise all season," said Raque. "I wasn't as clean tonight as I was hoping but I had a pretty good routine to come away with the title and I'm not upset about it."

Competing against an unranked Springfield program, the Nittany Lions used Saturday night as a chance to not only see how high they could get their individuals scores, but also to show off the depth they have as a team.

A number of the team's less experienced gymnasts, including sophomore Ismael Sanabria and junior Ingvar Jochumsson, were given the chance to compete, something that Jepson believes will help the team moving forward.

"Having depth is huge for us because now we're not pounding all of our guys every weekend," said Jepson. "It gives us the chance to build confidence in all of our guys and get them developed to have success later on." 



Lady Lions Earn No. 1 Seed For Big Ten Tournament

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the final horn sounded and the confetti guns went off on Sunday afternoon inside the Bryce Jordan Center, the Lady Lions celebrated their second-consecutive Big Ten title after knocking off Michigan, 67-58, in the home finale.

But that wasn't the only thing the Lady Lions can now celebrate.

8620602.jpegThanks to Sunday's win, Penn State knows its place on the Big Ten Tournament bracket when action begins on March 7 in Hoffman Estates, Ill.  With two games still to play, the Lady Lions earned the No. 1 seed of the conference tournament for the second-straight season.

This will mark the sixth time since Penn State joined the Big Ten that the Lions will be the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament.

The Lady Lions will open play on Friday, March 8 at 6 p.m. (CT) on BTN at Sears Centre Arena against the winner of the No. 8-No. 9 matchup, which will be held at 6 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, March 7.  The winner of the quarterfinal matchup on Friday will play in Saturday's second semifinal matchup at approximately 6:30 p.m. (CT) on March 9 (BTN).  The championship game is slated for Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m. (CT) on ESPN 2.

Nonetheless, the Lady Lions still have work to do in the regular season.  Penn State plays at Minnesota on Thursday (9 p.m. on BTN) and at Nebraska on Sunday (6 p.m. on BTN).  One win in the final two games will give the Lady Lions sole ownership of the 2013 Big Ten title.  Penn State has won 17 of its last 18 games heading into the final week of the regular season.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Balanced Lions Take Two Conference Contests

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Penn State men's volleyball team is running on all cylinders, it is a pretty exciting group of athletes to watch.

8618616.jpegThe Lions hosted two EIVA opponents in Rec Hall over the weekend and played some of their best volleyball this season. A combination of tough serving, timely blocking, smooth passing and a well-run offense came together and gave Penn State the extra edge when it needed it most.

Penn State took the first of the two matches on Friday night against a much improved and senior-led George Mason team. The Lions won in four sets, all of which were decided by less than five points. When it came down to it, head coach Mark Pavlik said that the tough Patriot team forced his group to really only focus on one thing.

"What matters is that we had control on our side of the net," said Pavlik. "Against these teams who are really gunning for us, sometimes it comes down to which team can focus on getting it done on their side. We really just had to play volleyball."

The following evening, the same fate followed suit as Penn State battled through four sets with Princeton. In a match where the Lions' tough serving became essentially masked by a solid Tigers defense, every touch mattered.

"I think when you get down to matches like this it boils down to how many opportunities you have to get kills," said Pavlik.

Penn State tallied 59 kills to Princeton's 47, even though the Tigers recorded the best average as a team hitting .234 on the night. Aaron Russell knotted a career-high 22 kills on the evening but said that the bigger picture was the exciting competition his team had to face.

"It's just fun competing," said Russell. "Guys are making plays, getting big blocks and making big digs and it's on both sides of the court. Two teams challenging each other is really what you want to ask for when you're playing the game."

Russell's head coach agreed. At the end of the match on Saturday night, Pavlik turned to his coaching staff, shook their hands and said, "That was fun."

After the match, Pavlik acknowledged the improving competition levels in the EIVA and said that he's been waiting many years for the time to come.

"That's the type of match you expect to have in an NCAA semifinal where it's big boys playing big boy volleyball," said Pavlik. "Balls are being swung at and you're getting stuffed, there's digs and people are flying over the court and nobody's backing off. It makes it fun to come into this gym knowing that we don't have to get on a plane to have great volleyball played."

Penn State now sits atop the EIVA with a 6-1 conference record, and it improves to 12-3 overall after the winning weekend. The Lions head on the road for the next month of play, and know that the second half of their season is not going to be easily won.

"We know it's a dog fight and we really have to bring our A-game every time," said Russell. "We really make sure that we stay together as a team and just really try to execute and make them pay."

A Second Home with Fans that are Second to None

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It wasn't something that they could put into words immediately following their Big Ten championship clinching win over Michigan, but there were a lot of smiles on the faces of the Lady Lions when asked about their accomplishments inside the Bryce Jordan Center this season.

Lucas-Maggie (5).jpeg"It's meant a lot," said senior Mia Nickson. " We love playing in the Bryce Jordan Center. I think from our freshman year until now the fan support has grown each year. The fans are great and our marketing department has done an outstanding job getting people out to our games, not to mention our student support has been great."

That support is one of the major reasons that the Lady Lions capped off the 10th undefeated season in school history and moved their home court winning streak to 20 games in front of 14,173 pink-clad fans on Sunday, the fourth largest crowd in Bryce Jordan Center history.

"We feed off of their emotion  and when we hit our lull tonight in the second half they were still right there clapping and standing up," said Nickson. "That energy helped change the momentum of this game. [Our fans] are amazing and we like to protect our house for them."

Penn State had not scored in over five minutes and Rachel Sheffer's three pointer pulled the Wolverines to within four points, 54-48, with 11:07 to play in the game and momentum belonged solely to the Maize and Blue. That's when the crowd took over.

After a Michigan turnover sent the game to the third media timeout of the second half the crowd slowely worked its way into a frenzy. When the Lady Lions returned to the court, those fourteen thousand fans rose to their feet, waved their pink pom-poms and let their team know they were firmly behind them.

Then, with the shot clock winding down, senior Alex Bentley took two hard dribbles into the teeth of the UM zone and fired a pass to a wide open Ariel Edwards on the wing. Edwards caught the pass in rhythm and hit her second three pointer of the game with the shot clock expiring and that crowd erupted.

"The Bryce Jordan Center is like our second home," Bentley said after the game. "We might as well live here and [the support] means a lot to us. I am just happy that we were able to close it out with a win. This game was awesome, the fans were awesome and I am just really excited right now. I love my teammates and I am proud of them."

I know that if I would have had thousands of my friends over to my house to watch a basketball game the neighbors would not have been happy with all of the ruckus, not to mention I would need a few extra chairs, but on Sunday, Bentley's second home was filled with  numerous supporters that were having a rowdy time and she and her teammates gave them the show they wanted.

"You see these girls, they're hams," said head coach Coquese Washington. "They are theatrical and they like [playing in front of this crowd]. They like all of the that stuff, so what they have accomplished in his building is great...we are pleased that we have been able to come into this building night in and night out and give our best effort and be one with our fans.

"We are proud that we have had a season like this where every time you leave a Lady Lion game you leave with a smile on your face."

A smile, a court full of confetti and a championship trophy was what the fans were able to leave with on Sunday. Penn State clinched at least a share of their second consecutive Big Ten Championship and as the fans in the stands jumped around, hollered and hugged, the same emotions were being shared on the court.

I watched as Nickson tugged on Bentley's jersey and when Bentley turned around and saw it was her hardworking, fellow senior the two hugged each other and the words 'how about this' came out of their mouths.

The 11 point victory secured just the 10th undefeated season in school history and the first since 2004-05 as they finished the year at 14-0 on the hardwood inside of the BJC. They haven't felt the pain of a loss since Jan. 7, 2012  vs. Michigan State and have now won 20 straight games in front of the Happy Valley faithful.

Their eight Big Ten wins in the building this season are the most home conference wins in school history and the win over the Wolverines capped a four-year record of 49-12 for the senior class. Added to that is the fact that it was also the 200th victory inside of the Bryce Jordan Center for the women's basketball program.

Hey Mia, how about that?

Those numbers are wonderful, but what matters most to Washington, and the rest of the Lady Lion players and coaches is winning and there is still plenty of that left to do.

"This was our vision, Coquese's vision," said Nickson. "We came in with thoughts of turning around this program, getting it back to where it was before and I think we all bought into that and worked really, really hard. It has worked out so far, but there is still room to grow  and things to accomplish for this program."



In Game Blog: Women's Basketball vs. Michigan

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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 throughout the game, so check back often as the action unfolds.

Below is a running in-game blog from the Lady Lions 68-57 victory over Michigan on Sunday inside the Bryce Jordan Center that clinched the second straight Big Ten title for the Lady Lions.

Today's Game Preview in 140 Characters: Balance emotions on Senior Day & stay composed vs. stingy Mich. defense...Bentley, Greene, Nickson, Studevent & Wolfe need to go out in style

First Five on the Floor (Starting lineups)
Lady Lions -
G- Bentley, G- Studevent, F- Nickson, F- Wolfe, C- Greene
Wolverines - G- Elmblad, G- Ryan, G-Thompson, F- Jordan, C- Sheffer

1st Half: 15:43 - No. 7/9 Penn State 5, Wolverines 2
Senior Day is always an emotional game and when Marisa Wolfe came out of the game at 19:29 in the first half after forcing a turnover, I am sure those emotions were running high for the senior from Ford City, Pa. Wolfe has missed the entire year with concussion symptoms, but got the start tonight and received a huge ovation from the crowd and a giant hug from head coach Coquese Washington when she stepped off the floor.

As for the game, Penn State didn't score until a Mia Nickson free throw at 17:39 and the senior quickly followed that with a basket to push the Lions ahead, 3-2. Neither team is shooting particularly well, but the Blue and White defense is doing some serious work on the perimeter shooters of the Wolverines.

1st Half: 11:35 - No. 7/9 Penn State 15, Wolverines 4
A 10-2 run has opened up a sizable lead early on for the Lady Lions and Maggie Lucas is a big reason for that. The junior has eight points over the first nine minutes, including a pair of three point baskets, and Penn State has forced five Wolverine turnovers and held them to 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. Alex Bentley has been energized from the opening tip and will need to keep up that energy tonight as she already has two assists, two steals and four points.

1st Half: 7:24 - No. 7/9 Penn State 23, Wolverines 7
The hoop has seemed to have a lid on it for the Wolverines, while Penn State is pushing the ball up the floor and creating offense nicely . Lucas is outscoring the entire Wolverine team with 12 points in 11 minutes and has added three rebounds. The Lady Lions are shooting 44 percent from the field so far, carrying the momentum over from their hot shooting performance against Illinois on Wednesday. The turnovers are at six right now for PSU, so that is a number we will keep an eye on.

1st Half: 3:51 - No. 7/9 Penn State 30, Wolverines 14
Both teams have played a zone defense for the most part in the first half which has contributed to a lower scoring first half than we are used to at Lady Lion games. Michigan has settled mostly for jump shots and is clicking at just a 21 percent mark from the field - including 1-of-10 from three point range - and the Lady Lions are dominating the boards, 22-12. 

End of 1st Half - No. 7/9 Penn State 40, Wolverines 26
A nice shot from Gizelle Studevent nearly gave Penn State all the momentum going into the half, but Jenny Ryan knocked down a contested three pointer at the buzzer to give the Wolverines a boost entering the locker room. Penn State leads by 14 going into the half and will need to continue their strong play on both ends.

A tenacious defense held the Wolverines to just 8-for-28 (28 percent) shooting from the floor, 2-for-11 (18 percent) from three point range and forced eight turnovers. Penn State shot 45 percent (15-of-33) from the floor and hit 5-of-12 shots from beyond the arc, with three of those coming from Maggie Lucas, and owns a 24-15 edge on the boards.

Lucas leads all scorers with 15 points, while Kate Thompson has 13 points for the Wolverines.

2nd Half: 15:40 - No. 7/9 Penn State 44, Wolverines 38
Michigan has come out of the locker room and carried along the momentum of the buzzer beating three pointer from Thompson. It is a 12-4 run that the Wolverines are on to start this half and pull within just eight points. Someone on the defensive end for Penn State is going to have to make a concerted effort to keep Thompson off the scoreboard as she has four three pointers, a layup and five free throws for19 points.

2nd Half: 11:51 - No. 7/9 Penn State 52, Wolverines 45
The Lady Lions have come out a little flat to start the second half, while Nya Jordan and Kate Thompson continue to be the only options for the Wolverines on the offensive end.  Thompson has nine points - all from three point baskets - and Jordan has done a nice job working inside to the tune of seven points. Lucas has just four points - one basket and two free throws - and the Lady Lions are struggling right now against the Wolverines zone. The next four minutes will be key for the Lady Lions who need to establish the post as a threat and stop settling for jump shots, much like they forced Michigan to do in the first half.

2nd Half: 6:04 - No. 7/9 Penn State 57, Wolverines 48
A five minute scoring drought was ended by an Ariel Edwards three pointer as the shot clock expired and Alex Bentley knocked down a jump shot from just inside the arc on the next possession to push the Lady Lions lead to nine points. It hasn't been a pretty half for PSU and the Wolverines came out with a quick scoring punch, but have now gone almost five minutes without a point themselves.

2nd Half: 3:27 - No. 7/9 Penn State 61, Wolverines 52
After having success against the Wolverines zone in the first half, Penn State has struggled in the second half. The Lady Lions shot 15-of-33 (45 percent)  in the opening frame, but are just 8-of-21 (38 percent) from the floor in the second half. With Nikki Greene in foul trouble for most of the half, Penn State has had limited touches in the paint which has meant Bentley and Lucas have been forced to create more shots than they normally do.

FINAL - No. 7/9 Penn State 68, Wolverines 57
When their team needed them the most, the trio of Alex Bentley, Nikki Greene, Maggie Lucas and Mia Nickson came through. And when the final horn sounded the party started and the confetti was flying as the Lady Lions Locked up their second straight Big Ten Championships with a 68-57 victory over Michigan.

Nickson hit the final shot for PSU, a floater in the lane, to account for the final margin and, after all of the senior headed to the bench to a standing ovation from the crowd of 14,173, the underclassmen dribbled out the clock to close out the 10th undefeated home season in school history.

Lucas paced the Lady Lions with 21 points, added five rebounds and three steals, while Nickson finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Bentley was her normal self, hounding the UM player she was guarding from start to finish and notching 11 points, three rebounds, four steals and five assists. Greene was hampered by foul trouble for most of the game, but contributed eight points and nine bounds to go along with two blocked shots.

Michigan's zone defense really kept the offense in check for most of the night, but the Lady Lions were able to get past a five minute  scoreless stretch in the second half and nearly piled up 70 points vs. a Wolverine scoring defense that was allowing less than 55 points per game.

What To Look For:

The Lady Lions are looking to secure their first back-to-back titles since the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. A victory would not only give the Blue and White back-to-back Big Ten banners, but would also mark the most home conference wins in school history, eight, and lock up the tenth undefeated home season in school history.

- Penn State is scoring 74.1 points per game and is coming off of a 95-point performance on Wednesday night vs. Illinois, but the Wolverines will use a variety of looks on the defensive end and attempt to hold the Lady Lions offense down. The Wolverines are holding opponents to just 54.5 points a game - second in the Big Ten - and limit the opposition to just a 44 percent shooting percentage.

- The Bryce Jordan Center will big ado to five seniors today, as Alex Bentley, Nikki Greene, Mia Nickson, Gizelle Studevent and Marisa Wolfe will all play their final home contests inside a building that has seen so much success during their four years.  Since the 2009-10 season, Penn State is 48-12 inside the BJC and is currently riding a 19-game winning streak at home. A victory over the Wolverines would also lock up a share of the Big Ten title, mark the 200th win inside the BJC and polish off the 10th undefeated home season in school history.

Three Point Play: Lady Lions Look to Lock Up Championship

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Three Point Play: Lady Lions Look to Lock Up Championship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It will be hard to believe that the Lady Lions are taking to the floor on Sunday vs. Michigan with all of the pink that will be taking over the Bryce Jordan Center. It will be the annual Pink Zone at Penn State contest and the Lions will be trying to secure their second straight Big Ten Regular Season Championships vs. the Wolverines.

Assistant coach Maren Walseth gives us a quick scouting report, junior Talia East talks about Pink Zone and their meeting with Michigan, and we've added a three-point play's worth of notes that are included below.

Searching for a Second Title: To win a championship you have to be a steady force and take care of business when the time comes. The Lady Lions have done that so far this season, with a loss at Wisconsin as the only blemish on their Big Ten record, and will be looking to lock up a share of their second straight regular season Big Ten Championship on Sunday vs. Michigan.

The Lady Lions are looking to secure their first back-to-back titles since the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. A victory would not only give the Blue and White back-to-back Big Ten banners, but would also mark the most home conference wins in school history, eight, and lock up the tenth undefeated home season in school history.

Superb Shooting vs. Illini: Everyone took two looks at the box score after the Lady Lions 95-62 victory on Wednesday and both glances provided the same result. Penn State had shot 61 percent the in the game to mark the first such effort since Feb. 24, 1996 against Michigan State.

Penn State connected on 33-of-54 shots from the field and didn't miss more than two shots in a row after starting the game 2-for-7 from the field. Penn State missed consecutive shots only three times over the final 35 minutes of the game and added a 71 percent mark from the free throw stripe.

Seriously Successful Seniors: When a recruiting class arrives on campus as a top-25 ranked group there are a lot of high hopes attached. When the four-person class of Alex Bentley, Nikki Greene, Gizelle Studevent and Marisa Wolfe - later adding transfer Mia Nickson - inked their intent to play at Penn State those expectations were through the roof.

The class has delivered on those prospects and then some. Four of them have topped the 200-point mark in there career, while Bentley and Greene have both topped the 1,000-point plateau. Greene is nearing the 1,000-rebound mark, while Bentley has added nearly 400 rebounds, over 300 steals and nearly 600 assists. Studevent has come off the bench and piled up almost 100 rebounds and is closing in on her 200th point.

Nickson, who transferred in from Boston College, has been a welcome addition to the club both on and off the court. Nickson has piled up 576 rebounds and 777 points in her Penn State career, while being a vocal leader on the floor and a shining example of a student-athlete off the floor.


Newly-Ranked Conaway Looks to Stay Focused

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By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Entering his first season as a starter for the Penn State wrestling team, redshirt freshmen Jordan Conaway knew he would have a high standard to live up to in a lineup featuring five returning All-Americans.

8483735 (1).jpegNow with the regular season almost complete, it is safe to say that Conaway has more than lived up to the expectations of being a Nittany Lion.

With a 13-6 overall record that includes three victories over ranked opponents, Conaway entered this week as the 13th ranked wrestler at the 133-weight, a nice reward for someone who has been one of the team's scrappiest competitors all season.

"It's nice to finally be ranked but I try not to worry too much about it," said Conaway. "Rankings aren't something we like to focus on."

While Conaway's emergence in the rankings validates the job he has done this season, it also serves notice to the rest of the country that he will look to be a force to be reckoned with come postseason.

Although the added attention will make it harder for him to sneak up on some of his opponents the way he has done so far this season, the Abbottstown, Pa., native was adamant that his mindset has not changed.

"You have to wrestle the same no matter who you're going against or what your ranking is," said Conaway. "Even though some of the kids might be considered tougher you have to keep the same mentality."

This mindset is a big part of what has enabled Conaway to upset a number of the country's top ranked 133-pounders already, including third ranked Tyler Graff of Wisconsin.

Along with his attitude, Conaway attributes his success to the superior conditioning he has developed.

For a number of his matches this season, the freshman has used the third period to wear down tired opponents in order to score both victories and bonus points.

"I know kids are going to get tired and I'm usually better at being conditioned and lasting through the match," said Conaway. "I know going into the match to be ready for them to start slowing down so that I can start to make my moves."

Conaway's third period heroics have thrilled not just his teammates and coaches this season, but also the Penn State fans.

It has become common at home meets for the Nittany Lion faithful to save their loudest cheers for Conaway's matches, including his win over Graff, which arguably was the loudest Rec Hall has been all year.

The energy and excitement provided by the crowd have, according to Conaway, willed him to victory numerous times.

"The atmosphere here is a lot different than anywhere else and it's an awesome place to compete," said Conaway. "Having so many people right on top of you is different but it makes it really fun."

While Conaway has improved rapidly during his first season as a starter for the Nittany Lions, it has not been hard for him to find motivation to continue to get better.

With eight other ranked wrestlers, including three national champions, surrounding him in the lineup, Conaway has not had to look far to see what it takes to achieve greatness.

"We have so many top ranked guys in the room so it definitely motivates me to keep working harder to get to where they are," said Conaway. "It's a good room to practice in because everyone is working hard so you have to do the same thing."

Although the season may be winding down, Conaway is not ready to stop and reflect on what he has achieved just yet.

With the Big Ten Championships approaching, he's looking to continue to make a name for himself and to earn a berth in the NCAA Championships.

"The season's still not over and the goals I set haven't been accomplished yet," said Conaway. "I'm excited to wrestle in these upcoming tournaments and to see how I do."

VIDEO: Felix Aronovich Preview Springfield College Dul

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior Felix Aronovich talked with about the No. 1 men's gymnastic team's upcoming meet with Springfield College on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. inside Rec Hall. A native of Kiryat Bialik, Israel, Aronovich was named the College Gymnastics Association's Gymnast of the Week and talks about that honor, the team's progression and the fans inside of Rec Hall.


Lions Face Big Test in Home Opener

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By Pat White, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The journey doesn't get any easier for Penn State men's lacrosse as they welcome third-ranked Notre Dame to Happy Valley on Sunday.

The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions will face their second top 10 opponent in two weeks following a 15-12 victory over No. 9 Denver last weekend. Like Denver, Notre Dame is coming off of a road victory against now 14th-ranked Duke. Penn State has a tall task ahead preparing for a well-rounded Fighting Irish team.

8605754.jpegHead Coach Jeff Tambroni said that Fighting Irish deserve the high ranking based on their finish last season and win against Duke. Notre Dame's success has picked up where it left off last season, finishing 13-3 and making it to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. One of those losses was a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Nittany Lions.

Tambroni said the grinding defensive game last season wasn't one that lacrosse pundits would consider a great game. Both teams are stocked with offensive talent and the faster pace to the game this season should be a recipe for an exciting game.

"Notre Dame gets a lot of publicity because of their defensive end and they are very talented and well coached back there," Tambroni said. "But they are very capable on the offensive end as well after putting up 13 goals against Duke. It should be fun game."

Notre Dame boasts one of the top defenses in college lacrosse, allowing just 6.31 goals-per-game last season and allowing five goals to Duke in its 13-5 victory last Saturday. It is led by All-American senior goalie John Kemp. Kemp led the nation in goals-against average (6.27) and save percentage (.683).

Penn State has proven to be a high-scoring offense, scoring 8.7 goals-per-game last season, and averaging 13 goals-per-game in two games this season. The attack unit of senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.), junior Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) and freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) have combined to score 21 of Penn State's 28 goals this season.

"They've done a great job and taken turns during the course of the game," Tambroni said of his attack. "They are starting to get comfortable with one another. Hopefully they can continue to share the ball and complement each other. They have come in to watch extra film this week and have practice very hard."

Each attackman brings something different to the table making them hard to defend. Sturgis is a great facilitator and dodger from behind the net. Forster has a great shot both on the run and when given room and Sanders is sneaky in finding space in the defense and finishing his shots. The one thing they all have in common is they can score from anywhere.

The offense will rely on the attack to generate offense against the stingy Notre Dame defense. The extra attention on the attack may open up opportunities for the midfielders to create some shots. Sophomore Kyle Zittel (Eden, N.Y) and junior Tom LaCrosse (
Canandaigua, N.Y) each scored against Denver, and hope to continue the trend this weekend.

Scoring goals will be less of a challenge for the Nittany Lions against Notre Dame if they continue to work well in transition. Possessing the ball will be crucial in limiting Notre Dame's scorers from getting in a rhythm.

While the offense conjures up ways to solve Kemp and Notre Dame's defense, junior goaltender Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) will be busy stopping the high-octane Fighting Irish offense. Kaut finished last season sixth in the nation in save percentage (.584) and tenth in goals-against-average (7.93 gaa.).

Notre Dame returns its five leading scorers from last season, as well as adding highly touted freshman attackman Matt Kavanagh to the mix. Kaut isn't focusing on Notre Dame's offense, but rather achieving the teams' objectives.

"We just have to focus on us," Kaut said. "We just going to practice hard, play hard and get a good scouting report from our coaches. Hopefully we'll come out on our home turf and come out with a victory against Notre Dame."

The home opener gives the Penn State faithful their first real chance at seeing the No. 8 Nittany Lions. Tambroni is happy to rest his players after two weekends of travel. He said it makes preparing easier when travel is not in the equation and the team can focus on just playing lacrosse.

Kaut is used to the travel by now, but admitted that he is anxious to see how the team measures up to a very talented Notre Dame team in front of the home crowd.

"Hopefully we get a good showing at the game with a top-five team coming in," Kaut said. "We're going to come out and play hard. Traveling isn't anything different, but playing at home with the fans there is always exciting."

Tambroni has said from the start of the season that he wants to climb up the ranks and compete in the postseason. He is happy to be ranked eighth in the country, but knows there is still more to accomplish. A win over a well-established and experienced team like Notre Dame could ignite a lot of confidence for Penn State moving forward.

Ricketts Readies for Big Ten Championships

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By Kyle Lucas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Almost a year ago junior Marlene Ricketts had the jump of her career. Ricketts hit a jump of 41-2.25 in the triple jump at the NCAA First Round. It was a new personal record, at the time. Her jump was good enough for a 15th place finish, pretty good for someone who entered the day ranked 36th in the event.

8474228.jpegHowever, it was not good enough.

Out of the 48 athletes that qualified for NCAA First Round only, 12 make it to the NCAA final round. Ricketts had just missed the cut by three spots.

While psyched to set a new personal record, she headed into the offseason unsatisfied. Ricketts retooled her technique with jumps coach, Fritz Spence, through weekly meetings, film sessions and of course practice.

"I think the main thing about my jumps was my approach to the board," said Ricketts. "I would foul all the time because I would change my run. Once I figured that out I barely fouled this season. I think that was huge for me."

Ricketts competes in the 400 meters as part of her training. She runs in the event with the intention of improving and eventually maintain her conditioning levels. Typically she only runs the 400 meters in the first few meets of the season.

However, this season she's seen her workload in the event expand to the relays. So far this season Ricketts have competed in the 4x400-meter relay and has ran the 400-meter leg of the distance medley relay.

"She's an athlete. There is just no question she is probably one of the most talented athletes we have on the team," said head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "So building her into some of these relays has been very important in her development to help her understand that she can not only be hugely valuable to us in the jumps, as she's shown herself to be, but also in the relays."

While Ricketts is seeing success in the 400-meters and relay events she maintains that she is strictly a jumper.

"The triple jump is my favorite event," said Ricketts. "If I have to do the 400, I wouldn't have a problem doing it. It's not that bad once you're done with it."

Ricketts' work in the offseason and in the relays has been paying off in her jumps. Twice this season she has set new personal records in the triple jump. It's been a momentum boost for Ricketts heading into the Big Ten Championships this weekend at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.

"It's given me momentum, but I still think I can do better then what I have done this season," said Ricketts. "I just hope that I can do even better to contribute to the team at Big Tens by scoring. Whatever I jump, as long as I'm top two, I'll be happy."

This weekend she'll have chance at getting closer to her goals of the NCAA finals. Currently, Ricketts ranks 15th in the NCAA women's triple jump. Her distance of 42-2.25 is well within striking distance of the top five with nine girls ahead by only a few inches.

VIDEO: This Week In Penn State Wrestling - Feb. 21

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Leading up to Penn State's final dual of the season, sat down with Nittany Lion sophomore heavyweight Jimmy Lawson for the latest installment of This Week In Penn State Wrestling.  Lawson, who is a Toms River, N.J., native will be wrestling less than 40 minutes from his hometown on Sunday afternoon against Rutgers.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Coates Embraces Opportunity at Penn State

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By Scott Traweek, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - James Coates had dreamed of becoming a Nittany Lion his entire life.

"I grew up a Penn State fan," said Coates.  "Everything I've known my entire life has been Penn State, so I've always dreamt of being a Penn State student-athlete."

Coates-James.jpegNow, as a freshman in Happy Valley, Coates has secured a starting spot in left field for the baseball team after a standout performance against East Tennessee State University last weekend.

When he was young, the Girard, Ohio, native wasn't sure which sport would be his calling as a Nittany Lion.  Coates played football and baseball at John F. Kennedy high school, but gave up football his senior year after he decided baseball was the path he wanted to take.

The moment Coates was contacted about joining the baseball team at Penn State, he affirmed without a second thought. Coates was born and raised cheering for the Nittany Lions.  His father, Jim Coates, was a former punt/kick returner and wide receiver for Penn State in the mid-1980s.

Coates worked tirelessly throughout the offseason, preparing for the day when he would take the field and represent the Blue and White.  In the season opening series against East Tennessee State, Coates was the only freshman in the starting lineup, starting all three games.

The freshman phenom stood out immediately, going 5-for-10 with two RBIs, two stolen bases and two runs scored in the three game series.  Having inherited the speed from his father, Coates showed that he would be a weapon both on offense and in the outfield.

"He was acting like he's been there and done it, acting like an upperclassman," said head coach Robbie Wine.  "Every at bat was a good at bat, his base running was good and everything was under control.  It was very impressive."

The transition to college baseball can be difficult as players face a bigger stage with more distractions.  The game itself speeds up and fundamentals become crucial. That moment when a freshman steps onto the field for the first time in a game situation can be nerve-wracking. 

Coach Wine understands that experience and knows how to coach his players to be ready for it.

"Everyone gets nervous," said Wine.  "All you can do is acknowledge your nerves, take a deep breath, relax and get ready."

Naturally, Coates was nervous when his moment arrived, but he took coach Wine's advice to heart, settled in, and played the game he's lived and breathed for years.

"It's your first college game, first college experience, so it's exciting and it's a lot to take in and you get nervous," said Coates.  "I learned to trust what I've learned this offseason: just play my game and be myself."

The coaches at Penn State have been instrumental in preparing Coates for game day.  They honed his fundamentals so that when game time arrived, every play would be automatic and errors would be virtually nonexistent.

"[The coaches] really covered aspects of the game that I've never been taught before," said Coates.  "They've made me a better baseball player in many aspects."

Coates joins a team that has embraced him into their culture.  The Nittany Lions have developed a staunch work ethic, while allowing themselves the opportunity to enjoy the game of baseball.  The atmosphere has allowed Coates and the rest of the freshmen class to relax and play their game knowing that their teammates will support them through the best days and the worst.

"Right from the start I knew that this team was a great group of guys," said Coates.  "There is a great balance on this team between having fun, being relaxed, yet being serious and winning games."

The fit was right from the very beginning.  Coates knew he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and play for Penn State and he has already established himself as a Nittany Lion at heart and is on his way to doing it on the diamond.

"I knew that I would get a better education and be at a better program with a great group of guys, great coaches and great facilities," said Coates.  "It's always been my dream and so far it's been a dream come true.  I love everything about it."



Rosenthal Back on Rings Following Injury

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By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- Coming off a junior season in which he earned All-American honors and won an individual Big Ten Championship, Penn State gymnast Scott Rosenthal entered preseason of his senior year looking to once again be one of the Nittany Lions top gymnasts.

Rosenthal-Scott (2).jpegWhat he didn't plan on was that a nagging shoulder injury he had developed over the summer would lead to a partially torn muscle in the posterior region of his shoulder.

All of a sudden, Rosenthal was faced with the prospect of beginning the final year of his collegiate gymnastics career on the bench without knowing when he'd be fully healed.

"It was pretty heavy hit having to ride the bench at the start of my senior year," said Rosenthal. "To barely be able to practice was really unpleasant."

After missing the team's first three meets and the Winter Cup Challenge, Rosenthal finally returned to action last Saturday in the Nittany Lions tri-meet victory over Temple and William & Mary.

Competing in his signature event,  the still rings, the reigning Big Ten Champion dusted the rust off to produce a score of 15.500 and claim second place in the event.

"It was really nice to not be on the bench and finally have a part in what happened," said Rosenthal. "It may only be one event but having the chance to go out there and show what you can do to represent the team was really nice."

While both Rosenthal and head coach Randy Jepson are pleased with the progress he has made in returning, both acknowledge that he is not quite at 100 percent yet.

"I feel like my muscle strength is almost completely back but my range of motion is still pretty limited," said Rosenthal. "It's really going to be matter of seeing how much my body can handle going forward but I'm looking forward to getting back to the level of being one of our top guys consistently."

Still, Jepson believes it will only be a matter of time before Rosenthal is back at the level he was at last year when he set the school record in still rings with a score of 16.300.

Until then, Jepson is just glad he won't have to watch one of best gymnasts miss another significant chunk of his final season.

"I'm so happy for him because the thought that he might not be able to compete in the NCAA Championships when we're hosting them was really tugging at all of our hearts," said Jepson. "It's great to see him rebounding and he did a great job in getting back."

In order for Rosenthal to return as quickly as he did, he first had to face the challenge of not doing too much too soon, something he admitted was difficult for him at first.

For a gymnast who has earned a reputation with coaches and teammates for his ability to fight through pain, taking it easy on himself was something that he wasn't used to.

"I'm the kind of guy who likes to push through pain no matter what," said Rosenthal. "My coaches and teammates really helped me by telling me that if I paced myself properly I'd be back when I needed to be."

Being out of action also forced the Clearfield, Pa native to adapt his leadership strategies so that he could remain a positive influence on the team while injured.

Instead of leading by example like he's done in the past, Rosenthal adjusted by giving out advice and encouragement to his teammates from afar.

"I had to make sure I wasn't in a bad mood and that my outlook stayed positive for my teammates," said Rosenthal. "I just tried to do as much as I could to pass my knowledge on to the guys."

Now that he has finally returned, the rest of the Nittany Lions can breathe easier knowing that they now have one of their best gymnasts and leaders back on the mat.

"Scott brings so much to the team whether it's his quirky sense of humor, his dedication, or his intelligence," said Jepson. "He's all about getting things done and he does."



Regular Season Finale is Another Step for Lions

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By: Sean Flanery, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After falling in two games this past weekend to Rochester Institute of Technology, the Nittany Lions are preparing for the final series of their inaugural season.

Yoxheimer-Shannon (2).jpegLast weekend the Lions' offensive woes continued, managing to find the net only once in their two game series at RIT and they will look to right the ship this weekend. Penn State (7-22-2) will travel to Neville Island, Pa. to do battle with in-state foe Robert Morris (11-14-3) in the final series of the regular season.

"I think it has to start in the defensive zone to create more offense," said freshman forward Shannon Yoxheimer. "We have to have good breakouts, get the puck out quickly and transfer momentum from the defensive zone into the offensive zone."

Penn State's defense, despite this past weekend, has played well in the second half of the season. The Blue and White have allowed just 2.6 goals per game, in comparison to its season average of 3.1 goals allowed. The improvement in their defensive zone has been apparent, but at the offensive end of the ice continues to search for their footing.

The team has managed just 10 goals in its last 11 games, which does not bode well for being on the right end of the scoreboard. However, the team has endured some tough competition of late in playing teams such as No. 7 Mercyrhust, Syracuse and RIT, which makeup the top of the College Hockey America standings.

"It's definitely key to keep playing better in the defensive zone and get [the puck] out," said sophomore forward Jess Desorcie. "Keep moving it around the offensive zone and don't get caught up in just taking shots. You have to keep moving [the puck] around and getting it up to our points a lot more."

Getting the puck out has been a problem for the Lions as of late and Yoxheimer accredits the team's recent struggles to not focusing enough on the simple things and clearing pucks out of their own zone. Both Yoxheimer and Desorcie said that the team has used this final week of practice before their last regular season series at Robert Morris to address that very issue.

"We've been working a lot in practice on getting the puck out and getting clears rather than hanging on to the puck in our end," said Yoxheimer, "especially when it's near the blue line. I think that's a big thing that we're going to focus on this weekend as a group."

There is plenty of work to be done as the Lions gear up for the last series of their inaugural season and their first ever College Hockey America tournament in the first week of March.

"Going into this last weekend we just want to be really positive and finish off the season on a good note," said Desorcie. "Even though we have had our rough patches through the year, we have definitely learned a lot. We just want to wrap up the regular season on a high note this weekend before heading into playoffs."


Big Ten Rivalry Could Form in Finale at Wisconsin

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By Pat White Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--After what has been an exciting inaugural season for Penn State men's hockey, it seems only fitting that the Nittany Lions conclude the year with their biggest test of the season.

Gardiner-Max.jpegThe saying "save the best for last" rings true this weekend, as the Nittany Lions (12-13) travel to Madison to face off against future Big Ten opponent Wisconsin (13-10-7) at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers are ranked No. 18 in the United States College Hockey Organization poll this week. They are in the hunt in the very competitive WCHA and coming off a victory against second-ranked Minnesota last Sunday.

This season has been about improving every game and this series will be a measuring stick to see how far Penn State has come as a developing program.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky knows the Badgers are in a hunt for a NCAA tournament berth and will be treating it as a playoff scenario. He hopes his team brings the same heart and determination to the game.

"I think it's a great experience for our program," Gadowsky said. "With where they are nationally right now, we know we're going to get their best game. These are two big games for them and we know it."

One player who is particularly familiar with Wisconsin is sophomore forward Max Gardiner (Deephaven, Minn.). Gardiner, who played at Minnesota his freshman year, has played at the Kohl Center and knows that it is a hostile environment. He had the opportunity to play against his brother, Jake, who was a former Wisconsin defenseman.

"There is a lot of excitement," Gardiner said. "It's a hostile environment and a fun place to play and everyone's been looking forward to this weekend. It will be fun to get back in that arena and play Wisconsin."

Penn State is looking to establish itself as a competitive program in what will be an elite Big Ten hockey conference next year. The future Big Ten teams have a combine 23 National Championships between four teams. Michigan leads the way with nine and Wisconsin has won four. Wisconsin won its last national crown in 2006 and made a finals appearance in 2010 in a loss to Boston College.

The journey to becoming one of the elite teams in the NCAA begins with a test this weekend against the Badgers. Freshman defenseman Joseph Lordo (St. Louis, Mo.) wants to ignite the rivalry spark with a win.

"It's our last weekend and we want to go out and show them what the future is going to be like," Lordo said. "It's going to be a rivalry. We're a good team now and we want to focus on these games, but there is a message we want to send for the future [of Big Ten play]."

There will be a bit of an adjustment going from the Greenberg Ice Pavilion to the Kohl Center, which provides one of the biggest ice surfaces in college hockey.

Most hockey surfaces are 200 feet by 85 feet in dimension, but Kohl Arena is 200 feet by 97 feet. The extra space caters to speed, good board play and puck-movement, which may benefit Penn State.

Gadowsky preaches working hard along the wall, something Gardiner agrees will be a key to success against Wisconsin.

"It shouldn't be too big of an adjustment," Gardiner said. "There's a little more space to make plays and we'll have to jump on pucks a little quicker."

It's no secret that the Nittany Lions have been plagued by injuries this season, especially on the blue line, but Lordo's return last weekend gave the team a boost after dressing only four defensemen the past two games. Lordo said he feels good and is looking forward to skating on the big ice.

"I thought I played well [last weekend] and tried to get my feet moving," Lordo said. "I had a good result. You get more ice [with five defensemen] and I enjoy it to get into the flow of the game."

Gadowsky is hopeful that junior defenseman Nate Jensen (Shorewood, Minn.) can make his return against Wisconsin. Jensen would benefit with the larger ice surface because of his vision and ability to carry the puck up ice. Dressing six defensemen would take some of the burden off a defensive corps that has been taxed in the last few games.

Gadowsky gave the team an extra day off in preparation for the two game series on Sunday and Monday. He wants his team to be refreshed and focused after a busy weekend of THON, senior night and two games against a good Oklahoma squad.

If and how the extra day off and possible return of Jensen will affect the team is yet to be determined. One certainty is that this will be an entertaining series and a possible rivalry heading into Big Ten play next season. Gadowsky said the intensity of the rivalry all hinges upon this weekend's outcome.

"We're going to play each other four times from now on," Gadowsky said. "[A rivalry] really depends on what happens this weekend."

The Nittany Lions will face off against the Badgers at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24 at the Kohl Center before playing their second game on the Big Ten Network on Monday, Feb. 25 at 8:30 p.m.



VIDEO: Nittany Lions Active Off the Court at THON

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team played an active role at THON 2013.  Seniors Kristin Carpenter and Marika Racibarskas were among the 710 dancers who were on their feet for 46 consecutive hours to help fight pediatric cancer.

Additionally, members of the team hosted a Make-A-Wish event with Four Diamonds families, the team visited THON children at athlete hour and danced in the annual THON Pep Rally.  THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Bell off to Hot Start for Lions

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By Sean Flanery, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After three games in the team's first weekend of the season, the Nittany Lions found some offensive rhythm, especially one Lion in particular.

7707983.jpegSenior outfielder Cassidy Bell found her swing in the fourth game of a five-game stretch this past weekend in the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces, N.M. The senior had a tremendous weekend blasting three homeruns while driving in nine RBIs. The outfielder also led the team with her blazing speed racking up four stolen bases throughout the weekend.

However, this kind of success isn't something that is unfamiliar to Bell.

In her junior season, Bell dominated at the plate compiling a Penn State single season record batting average of .423 while notching nine homeruns and 20 RBIs. As a junior, she also led the team in hits, 41, and total bases with 76. The outfielder produced this dominant stat-line all while missing 15 games throughout the season as well.

"It feels great," Bell said. "Knowing that last year was a record-breaking season and coming into this year I just had to forget about it because if I tried to reproduce it or put too much pressure on myself, so starting off that good really took some pressure off."

So, Bell's success at the pate this past weekend in New Mexico came to no surprise as she picked up exactly where she left off last year.

"I think Cassidy got off to a great start," said Associate Head Coach Jen McIntyre. "She did a great job of setting the tone offensively and in addition to her we have a couple of other offensive threats that are going to be throughout the lineup. I think by her setting the tone and having a couple others pushing behind her is really what's going to help us get through the season."

The senior wasn't the only Nittany Lion to use the long ball to their advantage this past weekend. Freshman outfielder Macy Jones had a stellar weekend as well notching two homeruns and nine RBIs as well. Likewise, freshman Karlie Habitz notched her first homerun in the Blue and White while managing to drive in two runs throughout the weekend.

The Nittany Lions proved in the first weekend of play that they can hit and rack up the runs to compete with most teams. If the pitching for Penn State can remain confident and consistent behind the team's dominant offense led by Bell then the Blue and White could have a very successful year.

"When you know that you have the confidence that your offense is going to score runs then it takes a little bit of pressure off of the mound and it takes some pressure off the defense," said McIntyre. "I mean all the way around, when they're making plays out there, that's just as exciting as someone getting a big hit."

As Penn State (2-3) moves forward in its young season, they will travel to North Carolina this weekend to play four games in two days beginning at 12 p.m. EST on Saturday.

"It's a good group," said McIntyre. "It's a good well-rounded group and like I said we have a lot of different weapons. We're anxious to see how they all develop throughout the year."  

Composure Tested in Lady Lions Victory Over Illinois

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - If you are not familiar with college basketball, the game consists of two, 20 minute halves and can normally be played in around 90 minutes, but on Wednesday night the Lady Lions nearly needed a nap during their two-hour marathon against Illinois inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Lucas-Maggie (4).jpegThe game featured 47 fouls, 49 turnovers and 52 free throws, but when the final horn sounded Penn State had outlasted Illinois, 95-62.

Those three factors will slow down even the fastest moving offense, but it couldn't stop the Lady Lions from scoring 95 points and taking another step towards securing their second straight Big Ten regular season championship.

"I thought we played well in spurts tonight," said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. "I don't think we did a great job of controlling the ball throughout the game and some of that is attributed to Illinois and the way they play."

The way that Illinois plays can be summed up in one word: physical.

"[Illinois] tries to make the game chaotic and they try to get you playing faster than you want to play," said Washington. "There were times that we could have played with some more composure, but we expected some of that."

The physicality was apparent just two minutes into the game when both Mia Nickson and Nikki Greene went to the bench at the same time with bloody noses. Both players would return and it wasn't anything malicious that caused the injury, but Washington was happy with the way that her team did panic and kept playing their style of basketball throughout the game.

After trailing, 7-5, at the first media timeout, Penn State broke the game wide open with a 27-8 run over an eight minute span to grab control. During that spurt, the Lady Lions handed out seven assists and committed just two turnovers, while connecting on six of eight free throw attempts.

"I thought we did a good job of not forcing things too much," said Washington. "I think it took us a few minutes to adjust to the physicality [Illinois] plays with, but once we adjusted I think we were fine. We were able to get our bearings and get things going from there."

Adjust would be an understatement. After starting the game just 2-for-7 from the field, Penn State missed consecutive shots just three times the rest of the way. That type of success on the offensive end was something that the Blue and White knew that they would need to have to beat a quality opponent like Illinois.

"We really made it a point going into this game to make the extra pass," said junior Maggie Lucas. "[Making the extra pass] leads to the more open shots and we were able to get out in transition and get some layups in the first half, so that helped."

That effort was rewarded with 19 assists - their most in a Big Ten game this season - and a 61 percent shooting effort. It was a shooting clinic for the final 35 of the game as the Lady Lions connected on 66 percent of their shots and eventually ended the game with their highest shooting percentage in a game since Feb. 23, 1996 vs. Michigan State.

Such a high shooting percentage is a testament to Penn State's focus on the floor and their ability to play through what Washington described as a herky-jerky game. The extra pass that Lucas eluded to during the postgame press conference was something that kept the Illini off balance and out-of-sync and led to a lot of open looks.

All 10 players scored in the game and nine of them shot above 50 percent from the floor. Lucas (22 pts) and Alex Bentley (20 pts) paced the scoring efforts, while Nickson added 13 points and Ariel Edwards collected 11 points off the bench.

"It was a long game," said Washington. "There were a lot of fouls, a lot of stoppage of play, and sometimes it is hard to get in a rhythm and stay in that rhythm with so many whistles...but overall I thought we did a good job of keeping our composure."

That composure will continue to be tested as the season wares on, starting on Sunday against Michigan at the Bryce Jordan Center.


Seifert's Start Makes an Impact

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Matt Seifert has been on the University Park campus as a student and a member of the men's volleyball team for one and a half seasons of volleyball now. But it wasn't until the start of this year that he became a bigger piece of the puzzle.

In his freshman season with the team, Seifert redshirted and stood on the sideline, learning the ways of the program behind big names like seniors Joe Sunder and Edgardo Goas. Seifert said that it didn't take long for him to understand just what kind of team he had signed up for.

8602138.jpeg"It was easy for me to come here because it made sense," said Seifert. "The way that the guys play and the expectations that the coaches have for us are exactly what I was looking for. I knew I fit in."

The Reading, Pa., native said that his choice to become a Nittany Lion was also a natural one because he had been around the program for many years prior to his official visit to the school.

"I started playing volleyball in high school and there was always a tournament in State College that we went to," said Seifert. "That was always during the EIVA playoffs for [Penn State]. When I grew up through volleyball, I kind of grew up with this program watching them play and watching them win."

And the redshirt freshman has been helping the team to continue doing just that.

Seifert has started all 13 matches that the Lions have played this season, recording a 10-3 mark overall and a 4-1 tally in conference play. The middle hitter has truly become a triple-threat on the Lions' side of the net.

Almost halfway into the season, Seifert leads the team with a .402 hitting percentage, has tallied 10 service aces and comes in with a second-best effort of 30 total blocks.

But his numbers aren't the only thing intimidating about him at first glance.

Seifert's pure physicality sets him apart. His strong build paired with a towering height of 6-foot-9 has been acknowledged by several opponents, and it has even earned him a few new nicknames. Most recently, Seifert has been compared to the strongest, most cartoon, green guy there is - The Incredible Hulk.

"I think it comes from the way I am," said Seifert. "Obviously I'm one of the bigger, more physical guys and I think it's just because I bring intensity to the court. If I'm going to play I'm going to win so, I think people see that."

Amongst his teammates, Seifert said that he acts a bit more approachable. He likes to joke around and have fun during practice when he can, including putting on a few accents and imitations of head coach Mark Pavlik from time to time. And when most of the team talks to him or calls him out for a clutch play, Seifert said they usually use an entirely different nickname.

"They call me Mouse," said Seifert. "Connor [Curry] gave me that one. I don't know where it came from but I like it. It's definitely starting to stick."

But regardless of his individual statistics and names, Seifert said that this season's outcome isn't going to rely on the talent of just one person. Instead, the redshirt freshman said that it's going to take a team effort to achieve the goals that the Lions have set for themselves. In order to do that, Seifert said that he and his teammates simply have to stick together.

"The biggest thing we can all do right now is stay behind each other," said Seifert. "We need to keep motivating each other in practice and do anything we can do as a team." 

Perfect Storm for Nittany Lions in Season-Opener

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The Nittany Lions started their 2013 season beating the Bucknell Bison, 18-2, Wednesday night at Holuba Hall.

The No. 9/10 ranked Nittany Lions have dominated the Bison historically, failing to lose in 35 years and racking up 17 wins over that span.  Over the last three seasons, under head coach Missy Doherty, Penn State has outscored Bucknell 59-7.

8600391.jpegPenn State (1-0) got solid play from their returning players like Mackenzie Cyr and Molly Fernandez, but it was the freshmen that stole the show against Bucknell (0-2).

Doherty said she is looking for the freshmen to step up, become leaders and play up to their potential. And while she knows they are young, she is confident the Lions can be contributors.

Three freshmen scored their first career goal, while freshman goalkeeper Emi Smith was strong between the pipes for the Nittany Lions.

Smith, named the starter just over a week ago, recorded a shutout in the first half saving five shots and snatching the first win of her college career. Looking to find more consistency after competing against Penn on Saturday, the Colorado native looked much improved in the season-opener.

"I just took it as any other game.  I went into it with a strong mindset, that I was going to do well and that my team would be in front of me supporting me and I would be behind them support them," Smith said.

Along with Smith, Jenna Mosketti, Madison Cyr and Ally Heavens all stepped us a freshmen to play a huge part in the win. Mosketti ended her night with three points, scoring three goals on four shots. She added a groundball and a draw-control.

"It was a good first game," Mosketti said. "It's exciting, it's a little nerve-racking but it's good to get this first win and we have Loyola next and they're pretty good."

Mosketti was one of the key freshmen Doherty highlighted at media day prior to the season starting. She also mentioned Madison Cyr and Ally Heavens, saying they would be a huge part of this team's success.

Heavens got her first goal 10 minutes into the first half on a free-position shot. Madison Cyr would get her first goal just five minutes later, assisted by her sister Mackenzie.  Both players were a crucial part of the dominance on both ends of the field, and Doherty recognizes how important it is to get off on the right foot as a freshman.

"I think it was really important. We have a young team, so the more experience they can get, the better. We're looking for them to continue to contribute and getting experiences like today was definitely helpful," Doherty said.

Along with the freshmen playing well, the Nittany Lions had solid play from returning players. Mackenzie Cyr started the game with a hat trick to put Penn State up 3-0. She finished the game with seven points, scoring four goals on seven shots and assisting on three others.

Fernandez, Avery Curley and Maggie McCormick beat the keeper twice in the victory. McCormick, the leading goal scorer in 2012, took five shots and grabbed two ground balls.

Fernandez took seven shots and created two turnovers for the Nittany Lions. Fernandez said on media day that the freshmen have impressed her, and that although this is a young team, this is a competitive team.

"These younger kids, the freshman, they are so good and just like any little bit I can do to give them the confidence they need is going to help them," Fernandez said.

The Nittany Lions also got goals from pre-season All-American Tatum Coffey, Haley Ford and Shannon Lechner in the victory.

The Nittany Lions now turn their attention to the No. 6-ranked Loyola Greyhounds for a showdown this weekend. It's the first of three consecutive road games for the team.

The Greyhounds are coming off a 10-9 loss against No. 8 Virginia last Saturday.

Penn State has lost the last two matchups against Loyola, including an overtime heartbreaker at home last season. Doherty said the team will rely on the returning players for leadership against a solid Loyola team.

"We're playing Loyola on Saturday, so I think they're ready for that competition and they're ready to come in and go hard. It's going to be a really tough game, so I think they're ready to hopefully lead the attack," Doherty said. "Loyola is a really great opponent and we're really excited fort that game. I think they bring in similar attributes, like our team, and we're really going to have to be on our toes."

Loyola is similar to Penn State with 17 freshmen and sophomores making up their roster, and their starting goalkeeper, Molly Wolf, is a freshman.

Penn State will travel to Loyola, Duquesne and Maryland before returning home on March 6 to take on James Madison University.  

In Game Blog: Women's Basketball vs. Illinois

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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 throughout the game, so check back often as the action unfolds.

Below you can recap the Lady Lions 95-62 victory over Illinois on Wednesday night inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Today's Game Preview in 140 Characters: Handle Illini press & limit UI transition points...Start quickly & establish post...Lucas & Bentley need 2 be active, pressure Illini guards

First Five on the Floor (Starting lineups)
Lady Lions -
G- Bentley, G- Lucas, G- Taylor, F- Nickson, C- Greene
Illini  - G- Crawford, G- GodBold, G-Smith, G- Moore, F- Penn

1st Half: 15:40 - No. 7/9 Penn State 5, Illinois 7
In a bizarre way to start a game, both Nikki Greene and Mia Nickson have left the game with blood related issues on the same possession. Greene has been icing her nose since leaving the game at the 18 minute mark, while Nickson has reentered the game. The first half shooting woes continue to haunt the Lady Lions, as they are connecting on just 2-of-6 shots from the floor. On the bright side, Maggie Lucas is 2-for-2, including a three pointer, and on the flip side, Illinois is shooting 60 percent (3-of-5) entering the first break.

1st Half: 11:57 - No. 7/9 Penn State 14, Illinois 12
Penn State has put the pressure on Illinois and are currently on a 14-5 run to open up a small lead at the second break. The Lady Lions have been taking the ball to the hoop with some success and have hit five of their last eight shots to open up the seven point lead. The Illini are leaving the middle of the court open and Karisma Penn has went to the bench with two early fouls, which means Greene and Nickson need to get to work on the interior.

Something to keep an eye on is the matchup between the Penn State and Illinois guards. The Illini will give the Lady Lions fits tonight, merely because they have a little bit of a size advantage over PSU's guards.

1st Half: 6:37 - No. 7/9 Penn State 32, Illinois 18
The first half might take a little while because Penn State will be shooting the double bonus the rest of the  way, so get a snack and settle in. After starting the game with some solid looks at the basket, Illinois has cooled off and the Lady Lions have started to pull away. The current run is 27-11 to open up a 14 point lead and there is no relief in sight as Penn - Illinois double-double machine - is regulated to the bench with three fouls.  Bentley looked a little lackadaisical to start the game, but the engine has warmed up on this cold night in Happy Valley and she is now running on full tilt. With five turnovers in the first 14 minutes, Penn State will need to clean things up down the stretch this half and continue to make their free throws.

1st Half: 3:13 - No. 7/9 Penn State 45, Illinois 26
A technical foul when you are trailing by 14 isn't usually a smart play, but Matt Bollant hasn't followed much logic so far tonight on the sideline. The head coach received a technical foul after Arial Edwards made her first of two free throws following a foul. Lucas stepped to the line and hit both free throws from the technical and Edwards finished off her effort at the line with a make. Bollant is also playing a pair of players - Karisma Penn and Amber Moore - with three first half fouls.

Enough about Illinois, you are here to read about Penn State, so here it is. The Lady Lions have continued to work the ball inside with some success, but Greene has been on the bench for most the first half with two fouls, and the trio of Bentley, Lucas and Nickson has done most of the scoring in the first half. Lucas paces all scorers with 14 points.

End of 1st Half - No. 7/9 Penn State 54, Illinois 33
A bevy of studies have been done on the attention span of college students and, without boring you with details, the research shows a 15-20 minute attention span for the average college student.

With that said, the Lady Lions did a tremendous job focusing through a first half that took exactly one hour to play. Washington's corps pushed through a slow start to build a sizeable lead and just when you thought they might need a study break, the Lady Lions kept pushing to enter the half up by 21 points.

Lucas leads all scorers with 16 points, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, to go along with a game-high seven rebounds. Bentley has nine points and four assists and Nickson is 6-of-7 from the free throw stripe and has totaled eight points and five boards. The Lady Lions shot 22 free throws in the opening frame, making 16, while Illinois connected on 9-of-15 from the charity stripe.

Adrienne GodBold leads all Illini players with nine points, but is shooting just 4-of-12 from the floor.

If I remembered how to do a work sited page I would, but I am not sure I paid enough attention in that class. My apologies to those who compiled the research, I am sure they have a longer attention span than this blogger!

2nd Half: 14:45 - No. 7/9 Penn State 65, Illinois 40
A couple of Penn State miscues have led to a few easy Illinois baskets, but the second half has started out much like the first half ended; a bevy of fouls and Penn State leading big. The Lady Lions are shooting 60 percent from the field and are on their way to a school record for fastest chicken nuggets ever. Lucas is nearly at her season average, with 18 points, while Nickson and Bentley have both reached double figures, as well.

2nd Half: 11:32 - No. 7/9 Penn State 71, Illinois 47
With 12:06 in the second half, Talia East's layup gave the BJC faithful what they wanted; McNuggets. The junior's bucket pushed the point total to 71and gave every ticket holder six free nuggets from McDonalds. One thing that I have learned tonight is that Amber Moore can flat out shoot the basketball and she is doing it well in the second half with a pair of baskets on three shots. They haven't been easy looks, either. The Lady Lions have lost a little focus here midway through the second half, but the starting five is on the court and looking to close out this game strong after what seemed to be a pointed message from Washington during the break.

2nd Half: 7:28 - No. 7/9 Penn State 77, Illinois 58
Illinois has continued to bring the pressure and is clearly outplaying Penn State over the last five minutes. The Lady Lions have ten turnovers in the second half, while Illinois has only two. Washington is still active on the sidelines, trying to will her squad back into the flow they had found early in the game. Neither team is playing much defense right now, as this game is nearly two hours old.

FINAL  - No. 7/9 Penn State 95, Illinois 62
Penn State hit a wall midway through the second half, but closed out the game strong and narrowly missed their first 100-point Big Ten scoring effort since 2001. The Lady Lions piled up the points on a very efficient shooting night, but turned the ball over 29 times.

The standout stat of the night was Penn State's 61.1 percent tally from the field, which is the first time that a Lady Lion ballclub connected on 60-plus percent of their shots from the field. It was Feb. 23, 1996 when the Lions connected on 60.8 percent of their shots vs. Michigan State. It was a 33-for-54 effort from the field, which included 19 assists, and they knocked in 23-of-32 from the free throw line. Penn State also hit six of their nine shots form beyond the arc.

Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas             both topped the 20-point mark. Lucas led the way with 22 points and also had a game-high nine rebounds to go along with five assists and one block. Bentley hit 20 points on the head, while Mia Nickson added 13 and Ariel Edwards added 11 points off the bench.  


What To Look For:

- There is only one team in the Big Ten Conference that features three, 1,000-point scorers; Penn State. The Lady Lions can beat you from the outside with Alex Bentley (1,663 pts) and Maggie Lucas (1,669 pts) or throw the ball into the post for Nikki Greene (1,045 pts) to handle. The trio is the third highest scoring trio in the conference, averaging 42.1 points a game, just behind Illinois' trio of Karisma Penn, Lindsey Moore and Amber Moore (44.7 ppg) and Nebraksa's Jordan Hopper, Lindsey Moore and Lauren Douglas (43.6 ppg).

- This game could see a lot of second chance opportunities, as three of the top four offensive rebounds in the Big Ten will be on the floor tonight. Illinois' Karisma Penn leads the B1G with 4.0 offensive boards a game, while Nikki Greene ranks second (3.9 orpg) and Mia Nickson is fourth (3.1 orpg).

- Penn State's high scoring offense (No. 1 in B1G) will have a chance to get out and run tonight vs. Illinois 12th ranked scoring defense. The Lady Lions are pouring in 73.2 points per game and the Illini are allowing a conference worst 66.6 points a contest. Don't think that this will be a walk in the park for Penn State, however, as Illinois is scoring 71.6 points a game to rank second in the conference.

Chambers, Nittany Lions Not Settling for Moral Victories

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After going toe-to-toe with No. 4 Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon, it would have been easy for head coach Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lion basketball team to sit back, relax and settle for how well they competed against one of the nation's elite teams.

But that's not the way Penn State Basketball will continue to grow.

8599018.jpeg"I always say that we are close," Chambers said.  "But I can never accept losing.  And I will never accept losing.  We lost.  But we are getting better.  As individuals and as a team, we are getting better.  We are getting production from some guys who are finally stepping up, which is great.  And they have to continue to do that during this final stretch here."

Results aside, Penn State took big steps forward on the offensive end of the floor in the last two games, scoring 70 or more points in two-straight Big Ten games for the first time since 2006.  During that span, the Nittany Lions have shot 44 percent from the floor and 40 percent from beyond the arc, both well above the season averages (38.6 percent from the field and 27.7 percent from three).

A number of factors have played into the offensive surge, namely the scoring output from sophomore point guard D.J. Newbill (18.5 ppg), junior guard Jermaine Marshall (15.5 ppg) and senior forward Sasa Borovnjak (15.5 ppg).  The numbers speak for themselves, but the execution level on the offensive end of the floor has been more efficient than it was during previous games.

"I think we are moving the ball a lot better," senior guard Nick Colella said.  "We are moving it side to side.  We are getting it below the free throw line.  We are getting to our spots.  And as a team, we are really getting the ball inside-out.  And we are getting a lot more open shots."

High-level execution starts with good spacing on the offensive end of the floor.  Newbill said that Penn State's spacing and a few new offensive sets have both made life better for the primary ball handler running the offense.

"The good spacing makes my job much easier," Newbill said.  "Coach always talks about making sure that you are being the best teammate you can be, and spacing on the court is part of that to help get everyone involved."

Penn State's recent performances are much more than what is meeting the eye, though.  It isn't just a byproduct of better execution.

"Guys are in here earning it," Chambers said.  "They come into the gym.  They don't wait for me to come in here.  They are shooting.  They are bringing each other to the gym.  They are getting in the weight room for extra lifts.  That's why you are seeing a difference."

On the defensive end of the floor, Chambers wants to see more consistency from start to finish.  Yes, the offensive output has improved, but it takes a complete performance every possession to win in a league with the depth of the Big Ten.

"Defensively, we are having some breakdowns at crucial times," Chambers said.  "We are having some tough turnovers to start halves again.  That absolutely kills you because they lead to run-outs.  Then, there are timely rebounds that we don't get.  We have done a pretty good job rebounding the ball for the most part, but it is the winning plays; we have to start having winning plays."

Chambers said the Lions opened the Big Ten season in the right direction, giving Wisconsin all it could handle in the final minute of a close road loss at the Kohl Center.  Penn State then played Indiana tough in the Bryce Jordan Center.  Then, the Lions were up and down in Big Ten play until last week's pair of strong performances against Iowa and fourth-ranked Michigan.

"They want to win.  They care," Chambers said.  "Nobody likes losing, and that's why I think we have a good group of guys.  Some guys might mail it in at this point.  Some guys might say, 'oh we lost, no big deal.'  But I don't think our kids are making any excuses.  They come out everyday to try to get better and work.  The fact that there are still tears in that locker room after losses is impressive."

Barrowing a line from Chambers, the Nittany Lions are close to getting over the hump.  With continued execution on offense the way it has been during the past two games and a little more consistency defensively, Penn State will continue to put itself in a position to make the aforementioned winning plays.

"We are going into the games with the mentality that we have nothing to lose," Newbill said.  "We are just playing basketball.  We just need to bring confidence into every night.  That's what we have to do."

Chambers has said from day one that he wants to the see the Nittany Lions play their best basketball of the season at the end of the year, and if the last two games are an indicator, they are beginning to do that.  However, he isn't going to let the Lions accept anything less than winning.

"I feel like we are getting better, but I will not let these guys accept moral victories," Chambers said.

The Nittany Lions travel to Illinois on Thursday night for their only meeting of the season against the Illini, who have won four-straight games.  Tip is set for 8:15 p.m. on BTN.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Preparation Key in Men's Lacrosse's Quick Start

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By Pat White, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Head Coach Jeff Tambroni has his sights set on the successful season for Penn State (2-0) come playoff time, not just a quick 2-0 start right out of the gate.

8597670.jpegBut it is hard not to get excited after a monumental 15-12 victory over ninth-ranked Denver on Sunday (Feb. 16) in Jacksonville, Fla. at the Moe's Southwest Grill Lacrosse Classic. Denver had knocked off top-five opponent, Duke, the previous week. The Nittany Lions knew they had an opportunity to upset a potential postseason team and could do it on national television. Tambroni credited his team for preparing well and coming ready to play a well-established program.

"We have a lot of respect for them and their coaching staff," Tambroni said of Denver. "After what they did to us last year, that's why our team felt as good about the effort as much as, if not more than, the result on Sunday."

Goaltender Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) was wide-eyed at the sight of EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kaut made 10 saves and the Nittany Lions rose to the occasion on the big stage and came out with a victory to be proud of.

"That was the biggest stage I've ever played on," Kaut said. "It was really cool to be in that stadium, on the grass and to have our team come out fired up and take care of business."

Tambroni stresses that preparation is a key to success. He evaluates each week the level and intensity of preparation.  This week, it was Kaut that made note of the team's preparation and scouting report, especially on the defensive end, that paid off with a victory.

"Our defense played really well, both long-stick middies and short-stick middies," Kaut said. "[Denver's] three starting middies are some of the best in the nation and our guys were able to shut them down. I was really proud of them."

CAA Player of the Week Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) led the offense. The junior netted four goals in the victory over Denver, bringing his total to a team-leading eight in two games. He was joined on attack by red-shirt senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) and freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.), who combined for seven goals between them.

Sturgis said that his teammates helped create opportunities for him to score and his shots were falling. His ability to dodge from behind the net, causing the defense to slide, opened up shots for himself and hi s teammates. Sturgis added that it was a fun experience playing on a big stage, but more fun that the team finished shots and got the win.

"We have good chemistry and everyone is feeding off each other and playing around," Sturgis said of the offense. "The more we communicate the better the offense goes."

The sunny Florida sky can be a distracting environment, especially for a young team like Penn State. Tambroni was pleased with the leadership of his upper-classmen and the response by his players.

"I give the guys credit for the way they handled the entire atmosphere," Tambroni said. "It isn't something that we're accustomed to. That's not normal for the Penn State program. For them to play with poise and play hard says a lot about our leadership and our captains."

Tambroni admitted it was a fun weekend and great victory, but the team's focus now shifts to this weekend's opponent, third-ranked Notre Dame (1-0). Penn State faced off against the Fighting Irish last season in South Bend, Ind. and grinded to a 4-3 OT victory.

Notre Dame is also coming off of a victory against Duke and poses another challenge for Penn State in the early season. Hopefully the success from the previous two victories carries into Sunday's matchup with the Irish.

Penn State will get some much-needed rest after traveling the past two weekends to Michigan and Jacksonville. An extra day of rest coupled with a week of intense practice should pay dividends for the Nittany Lions against Notre Dame on Sunday.

"I think it comes down to preparation and that helps us for games on the weekends," Kaut said. "We practice really hard and it's paying off so far this season."

Women's Gymnastics Battles Beam with Mental Toughness

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By Sallie Sharer,, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -The women's gymnastics team fell to Michigan over the weekend, but head coach Jeff Thompson could not have been more pleased with the team's performance.

8597653.jpegThe team had conquered the mental toughness they had needed this season.

With a less than stellar performance on the balance beam two weeks ago at Nebraska, coach Thompson said the girls never wanted to feel the way they felt after that meet.

The week in practice leading up to the meet in Michigan was geared to rectifying those mistakes.

"I think it's a combination of several things. Maybe the most important thing is the way they felt at Nebraska when it was over. That is a very powerful motivator," Thompson said. "We started practices with beam intrasquad, and they had to hit to move on. They hit. They also had to end the practice with a beam intrasquad, they had to hit or they had to come back in on Wednesday, and they hit. So, not wanting to feel like that again helped them focus in practice. It helped build their confidence."

Their performances on the beam last week consisted of hitting all of their routines and posting their second highest score on the event.

"We knew we had this in us all along," Thompson said. "The girls set a goal before the meet started this weekend. Number one, to stay mentally tough, mentally focused until the very end, which we failed to do at Nebraska. We tried too hard, and ended up making mistakes on beam that we don't ordinarily make. The thing I'm most proud of is that they were able to do that."

Beam was the last event for the Lions at Michigan.

"They could have gone to beam and done what they did the week before, instead they just went over there and nailed everything, so that was awesome," Thompson said.

The second goal, Thompson said, was to go 24 for 24 routines.

"We went 23 for 24, and all exhibitions hit their routines so really we went 26 for 27. So, that was the real goal. The third goal was to score 196, because we felt like every meet we went to, had we done our job, we could have scored around a 196 or a little higher."

The Lions achieved all three of their goals, posting a score of 196.7, their highest score this season.

Headlining the performances of the night was senior co-captain Madison Merriam, who is still healing from an injury in the Lion's home opener this season. With two scores above 9.900, her work was paying off.

Merriam posted a 9.950 on vault, and 9.900 on the uneven bars, which was the event she had injured herself on in the home opener.

"I was really happy with my performance, I felt like all of my hard work was really paying off," Merriam said.

Getting the win was not the priority, Merriam said.

"We went into this meet trying to focus on ourselves, and hitting our routines. It was not about beating Michigan, it was about going out there and hitting our routines and we did that, and we got the scores," Merriam said.

Merriam performed on beam as an exhibition performance, and hit her routine with a 9.775. She was also thrilled at the Lions turn around on beam.

"This weekend they did a phenomenal job," Merriam said. "They were so confident up there, and they were a completely different team than they were at Nebraska. They went up there, and they owned it. I think they mentally prepared themselves better, and every single one of them knew they did not want to feel the way they felt after Nebraska."

The confidence from last week's meet has boosted the Lion's motivation going into the coming weeks of competition.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a five day break, the No. 7/9 Lady Lions return home for their final two home games of the season, starting Wed., Feb. 20 against Illinois. Penn State has won five games in a row vs. the Illini and are 15-2 in games played in Happy Valley.

Assistant coach Kia Damon gives us a quick scouting report, sophomore Tori Waldner talks about the bench and being a part of the THON athlete hour, and we've added a three-point play's worth of notes are included below.

Noteworthy Winning: When you have to go back 10 years to make your point the stat is usually an impressive one and when that statistics is regarding victories, you can bet that it is going to be notable. Penn State enters their meeting with Illinois at 21-3 on the season and 11-1 in Big Ten play and has won 18 straight games on their home floor. Impressive, right?

The home court winning streak is the seventh longest streak in school history. With two more victories the Lady Lions can finish just the fourth perfect season inside the Brice Jordan Center and tie for the third most victories in the buildings history. Penn State's winningest seasons at the BJC were 2002-03 (16-0) and 1999-00 (15-0), along with a pair of 14-win seasons in 2003-04 (14-1) and 2010-11 (14-4). Along with the 2002-03 and 1999-00 seasons, the Lady Lions finished the 2004-05 season with an unblemished 12-0 mark, too.

Penn State has also started their Big Ten slate with an 11-1 record for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign and began the conference slate by winning its first seven games for the first time since the 2004-05 squad.

Bentley on a Tare: When Alex Bentley takes the court you know that you are going to get maximum effort from the senior out of Indianapolis, Ind. That effort has been rewarded during Big Ten play, as Bentley has notched 10-plus points in 10 of her 12 games in conference play, including four straight entering Wednesday night.

Her tenacity is felt on both ends of the court and over her last four games Bentley is averaging 17.8 points per game, 2.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. One of the top defenders in the country, Bentley has also basted nearly three steals per game, including a four-steal effort last Thursday at Iowa, during that stretch.

Her play against Michigan State on Feb. 10 encapsulated her recent output, as she poured in 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting with three assists and four steals.

Machine Gun Maggie: When Maggie Lucas steps on the floor the opponent better know where number 33 is at, because if they don't the result could be a three pointer for the Lady Lions. Lucas has been a threat from outside the arc since arriving on the University Park campus and on Feb. 14 her three, three-point baskets moved her into the fourth spot on the Big Ten's all-time three point charts.

Lucas knocked down a school record 112 shots from distance as a rookie, stepped back for 82 three-point field goals as a sophomore and already has 101 successful shots from beyond the arc this season. She ranks second in the Big Ten with 2.9 three point field goals per game and with four game remaining in the regular season can break her own school standard if she can hit her per-game average from downtown in seven fewer games.


VIDEO: Nittany Lion Basketball Practice Update - Feb. 19

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a tight 78-71 setback at No. 4 Michigan on Sunday, the Nittany Lions are preparing for a trip to Illinois on Thursday (8:15 p.m. on BTN). caught up with senior guard Nick Colella, sophomore point guard D.J. Newbill and senior forward Sasa Borovnjak at practice on Tuesday afternoon for an update before the team travels to Champaign.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Former Transfer Right Fit for Lady Lions

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the summer of 2009, Coquese Washington had a class of four high school basketball players that she was bringing in to get her program back into the conversation with the Big Ten elite.

Nickson-Mia (2).jpegWashington had a point guard in Alex Bentley, a shooting guard in Gizelle Studevent, a small forward in Marisa Wolfe and a center in Nikki Greene. The sixth year coach at the time was missing one thing and that was a true power forward.

Then, along came Mia Nickson. Nickson transferred from Boston College to Penn State in the summer of 2009 and had to sit out the whole 2009-2010 season. However, Washington immediately thought that when Nickson would be eligible, her recruiting class of 2009 would be all set.

"I think she was exactly what we needed to round out that class," said Washington. "I think her addition to this kind of made it complete. The kinds of things she is able to do on the court, being a power forward presence, added with Nikki [Greene], who is a center, and Marisa [Wolfe], who was a natural small forward. She made the class full and gave us weapons in every position."

Nickson, who prepped at Notre Dame Academy in Virginia, was a heralded prospect coming out of high school after leading her team to the No. 4 ranking in the ESPN High School Elite 25 national poll.

She then went to Boston College where she averaged 1.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in her freshman year before deciding to transfer to Penn State.

That decision was made for a number of reasons, one of which was because she bought into what Washington was selling her before making the decision.

"We all came here with the intention to help rebuild this program," said Nickson. "We believed in coach Washington and her ideas and where she wanted to take the program. We agreed with it and worked really hard for it."

Once Nickson arrived to campus, her coaches and teammates soon learned the hard work and discipline the 6-foot-2 power forward brought to the table.

She's a double-digit scoring threat, can easily collect 10 or more rebounds and makes plays on the defensive end while setting an example for her teammates, both on and off the court. Nickson does all of this in a quiet manner, though.

"That's the one thing that I really like about this class and Mia embodies it," said Washington. "The entire [senior] class, they could care less about personal accolades. From the moment Mia stepped onto campus she brought leadership, quiet leadership, but certainly leadership none the less."

Washington also said that Nickson brings a level of respect for authority and discipline to the team as she goes about her business each and every day. Where her story gets even more intriguing, is the source of her type of leadership.

Nickson grew up in a military family and now calls herself a "military brat". Because of this background, she goes about her business strategically and makes it a point to get things done on time and respect those with authority.

All of that has translated onto the basketball court for Nickson in regards to following game plans and getting drills done or executing plays the right way.

"I grew up in the armed services and the structure of where things have to be and what time things have to be done," said Nickson. "I enjoy it and that is what basketball is like. They tell you what you have to do and when you have to do it and it's helpful."

After college, Nickson plans on trading in her basketball gear for some gear in the armed services as she plans to continue her military life as an officer in the service.

Nickson has been able to use her leadership skills from her military background and use them to help tutor and set an example for the younger players on her Lady Lion team.

"It shows them that you can do what you need to do, but when it's game day, you just have to do the little things," said Nickson. "You have to know your role and preform your role without any types of issues. You have to go out and perform to the best of your ability and once you do that everything comes easy."

Nickson has done exactly that in her four years at Penn State. She has accepted the job of being a quiet enforcer and this has not gone unnoticed from her fellow teammates, especially in the senior class.

"The thing with Mia is that she will do whatever she needs to do," said Bentley. "She's the greatest role player that I have ever played with. She takes care of business and she does everything well and plays to her strengths."

Now, Nickson has two home games left in her Lady Lion career, which shocks the redshirt senior that finished her undergraduate studies in 2012.

However, the biggest thing she will take away from her four years at Penn State are lessons her school has taught her by blending academics and athletics.

"The best thing I am going to take away is just the community and getting the best of both worlds by being a scholar and student-athlete," said Nickson. "It is great and probably one of the only places in the world that I could do that and I have really enjoyed my time here."

Nickson and the other four members of the senior class have two home games remaining in their Lady Lion careers starting with Illinois on Wednesday, Feb. 20 and Michigan for the "Pink Zone" game on Sunday, Feb. 24.



Women's Swimming and Diving Eager for Big Ten Championships

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By Chelsea Howard, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With excitement running through every swimmer and diver, the Nittany Lions have the opportunity to exhibit all of the hard work they've put in over the past six months as they travel to Minneapolis Minn. to kick off the 2013 Big Ten Championships meet.

8536010 (1).jpegThe Nittany Lions have fought their way up the rankings and have put together one of the best teams that Penn State has ever seen. Currently ranked 24th in the nation according to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, the swimmers and divers are eager to prove themselves in the Big Ten conference.

"The rankings just show us that we can do it," Gabi Shishkoff said. "We're already near the top so we just need to keep doing what we've been doing. It's made us really excited because we're not used to seeing that. We still feel like other teams are underestimating us but we find it really motivating to prove ourselves."

Going into the meet, the Nittany Lions are seeing their best rankings for each event on paper. The psych sheet, which shows a complete list of every event and the times that the swimmers have gone so far this season ranking from fastest to slowest, helps build the swimmers confidence. However captain Amy Modglin says it's important to keep in mind that the swimmers can't focus too much on it.

"It's definitely motivation to see your rankings," Modglin said. "But I'm a firm believer that a psych sheet is just a piece of paper and you can't get too caught up in it. You should definitely use it as motivation to see how well of a season you've had and how you're stacking up going into the meet, but it's just a piece of paper. The places we get at the meet are what's really going to matter."

Of the 18 swimming events at Big Tens, there is at least one swimmer in the top eight for 17 of those events. Opening the meet up on Wednesday night, the swimmers are seeded second in the 200 Medley Relay and first in the 800 Freestyle Relay. Throughout the rest of the meet, they are seeded third in the 200 Freestyle Relay, second in the 400 Medley Relay, and to close out the meet on Saturday, they are ranked first in the 400 Freestyle Relay.

Senior and captain Paige Whitmire has been a huge contributor to the team in the sprint events and relays over her four years and will compete on several of the relays during the Big Tens Championships. With a raised amount of pressure, Whitmire says reminding her how many times she has raced through out her career helps her handle what's coming her way.

"Relays score double points than any other event so they are extra important, especially since we don't have extra points from diving," Whitmire said. "We need to do the best we can in relays to get every point possible. Staying calm is something I'm still working on but just remembering I've done this a million times and that there's no reason I can't do it again. Also thinking about how cool it would be to win gets me more excited than nervous."

Shishkoff, who is ranked first in the 400 Individual Medley, fourth in the 200 Individual Medley, and seventh in the 200 Fly, has similar feelings as Whitmire on how to stay calm during one of the most nerve-racking meets that these swimmers experience. She also uses the coaches' advice to keep everything in perspective.

"Lately I've tried to tell myself that it's just a race and I've done it so many times before," Shishkoff said. "The coaches keep telling us this is the easy part and this is the fun part so I've been trying to take that to heart and just do what I know how to do."

Figuring out how to handle pressure and compete in the moment is a huge accomplishment, but one of the hardest skills to learn, especially as a freshman. The upperclassmen have given them advice on how to handle a championship atmosphere and have been impressed with how they have done so far this season. Modglin says she has been reminding the freshman it's just about racing.

"The freshman have been doing extremely well," Modglin said. "One of the things we've been telling them is it's not about how you feel - it's all about getting your hand on the wall first. I know how easy it is to get caught up in how you feel but that's the beauty of Big Tens. It's about getting out there and just racing other teams. It's like a big dual meet but you're rested and suited up."

Since Modglin's freshman year the team has drastically moved up in the rankings. They finished seventh in the Big Tens in 2010 and now she can say she has been part of building a team that could finish in the top three. She says a major difference between now and the past four years is the team dynamics.

"Every year is different because you have different groups of people with different personalities making the team dynamics different," Modglin said. "Being a senior now and seeing the team grow over the past four years, I can say this is the team that has the most promise for winning a championship. A lot of that comes from everyone stepping up and the freshman really buying into the program. I think if everyone is on the same page then we'll have a shot at being a championship team. I truly believe that everyone is and that everyone's working towards the same goals."

As a junior, Shishkoff has spent three years with these seniors and has been motivated by them sharing their past experiences.

"Obviously, a lot of them are big point scorers," Shishkoff said. "I think that their freshman year didn't go as well as they had hoped and that's made them really motivated to make sure that won't happen again. They've told us what needs to be different and pretty much everyone has listened."

With only a few days left until show time, the team's moral has been extremely high and mostly filled with excitement.

"It's been the best I've ever seen it of my four years of being on this team," Whitmire said. "Everyone's really excited and it's exciting to see everyone has the same goals and is on the same page. Everyone's pretty nervous but really psyched up and ready to be there."

Follow along with the results as the Nittany Lions begin their journey to close out one of their best seasons yet. Action begins at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday Feb. 20 at the University Aquatic Center in Minneapolis, Minn.  

VIDEO: Men's Swimming THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion men's swimming team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.  The Lions took home the crowd as the champion with a creative dance that involved a swimming prop mid-routine.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Women's Soccer THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion women's soccer team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Men's Soccer THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion men's soccer team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Fencing THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion fencing team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Field Hockey THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion field hockey team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Women's Golf THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion women's golf team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Women's Lacrosse THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion women's lacrosse team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Women's Swimming THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion women's swimming team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Women's Volleyball THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Men's Hockey Dances at THON 2013 Pep Rally

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just hours after defeating Oklahoma in the final game inside Greenberg Ice Pavilion, the Nittany Lion men's hockey team took the stage at THON 2013 to show off its dance moves during the annual pep rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Veteran Experience Shines in Exhibition as Lions Eye Season

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By Michael Renahan, Student Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - On a day where returning players took over against Penn, Penn State showed that although they are young and that they have the firepower every team searches for.

8591581.jpegWith a roster of 16 sophomores and freshmen, and only three seniors, the inexperience is there. However, no one would guess that after watching the Nittany Lions take on the Quakers in Saturday's exhibition match.

Penn State returned five of their top six scorers from last season including Molly Fernandez, Mackenzie Cyr and Maggie McCormick. The young Nittany Lions have a strong nucleus that makes the team strong, and head coach Missy Doherty loves.

Fernandez, the senior attacker, is returning after leading the team in goals last year. McCormick, also an attacker, led the Nittany Lions in points last season and looks to continue her success in 2013.

Mackenzie Cyr finished second in points as a sophomore and emerged as an outstanding attacker under Doherty. Sophomore Tatum Coffey was named a pre-season all American after a stellar freshman season, which included 34 goals.

Kelly Lechner quietly had 20 goals in her freshman season, and looks to build on that in 2013.

When the team took the field Saturday to take on Penn, it was no surprise where the offense came from for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State got four goals from Fernandez, three from McCormick and two from both Lechner and Cyr.  Midfielders Haley Ford and Coffey both added a tally in the contest.

The offense, which seemed to be in sync throughout the match, helped a defense still getting their feet set. 

"I think we want to look even more awesome than that. We tend to be a very feedy team, we like to assist a lot, and we have to start opening up some drives for the people that are great challengers on our team," Doherty said.

As the Nittany Lions start their 2013 season this Wednesday, it's important to look at the conference in which they play.

The American Lacrosse Conference currently has five teams ranked in the top 20, including Penn State at No. 10.

Along with Penn State, Northwestern and Florida both start their respective seasons in the top 10. Northwestern is the top team in the country at No. 1, and Florida comes in at No. 3.

The Lions will play both this season. They travel to Northwestern (April 5) and take on Florida (March 30) at home.

Along with the Nittany Lions, Gators and Wildcats, the Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked in the top 20 at No. 13, and the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays are ranked at No. 19.

The Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals last year before losing to Florida. They finished with a 12-7 record overall, and a 3-2 record in the ALC for a third place finish.

The conference has been well decorated accounting for seven NCAA titles and 98 All-Americans.

Penn State starts off conference play on March 17, when Vanderbilt visits University Park.

The Nittany Lions beat Vanderbilt, 12-11, last season in an overtime thriller. The Commodores finished 2012 with a record of 8-8, and 1-4 in conference play. The team lost their top five point scorers after 2012, and enters this season unranked. Penn State has won the last two matchups between these teams.

After Vanderbilt, The Florida Gators are in town for a top ten showdown. The Nittany Lions lost to Florida twice last season, including a 15-2 defeat in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Gators have already begun regular season play starting 3-0 for the first time in program history. Penn State will look to beat Florida for the first time since Missy Doherty became head coach.

Conference foe Northwestern won the national championship for the second season in a row. The Wildcats have won seven championships since 2005. Penn State will visit the Wildcats on April 5. The Lions last beat Northwestern in 2003 and the Wildcats have won their first two games in 2013, beating USC and Massachusetts.

The Nittany Lions take on Ohio State on April 14 for their fourth conference match of the season. Penn State has had success against the Buckeyes winning their last four matchups. The Buckeyes started 2013 with a loss to Louisville.

Penn State closes out their 2013 conference scheduled against Johns Hopkins, who enters this season ranked at 19. The Blue Jays beat Penn State in the first round of the conference championship last season, 13-12.

The American Lacrosse Conference has been referred to as one of the toughest in the nation. With perennial powerhouses like Florida and Northwestern, Penn State has its work cut out for it.

The Nittany Lions are young, but talented, and understand what it means to play in the American Lacrosse Conference.

"When it gets to NCAA time, thankfully, we will have been playing against the top teams of the country, so it's not like were going in wondering what the competition will be like," Doherty said.

The conference does bring out the best in each team. Senior attacker Molly Fernandez recognizes that playing the best in the nation prepares you for the postseason and NCAAs.

"It just gets us a little bit more prepared for the post season, and it's always great to play the best there is out there, and fortunately we have that with our conference so it's a great thing to have," Fernandez said.

The Nittany Lions face their first conference opponent on March 17, when they welcome Vanderbilt. 

Penn State Athletics THON 2013 Coverage

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 41st IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.

More than 700 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer.  THON went to new heights on Sunday when a record of more than $12.37 million was raised for 2013.  To date, more than $100 million has been raised by THON.

Several Penn State student-athletes spent 46 hours on their feet in the annual dance marathon.  Representing the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) were Kristin Carpenter from the women's volleyball team and Annie Abdo from the field hockey squad.  Katlyn Elliott from women's golf and Marika Racibarskas from women's volleyball represented Penn State Hockey this weekend.

Additionally, Perry Hammershlag and Nicole Symeonides from the Lionetts squad and Paige McManus and Nicole Camporeale from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.

Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally and team dance competition.

We would also like to wish student writers Matt Allibone and Kelsey Detweiler, along with Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Angelis Lau the best of luck as they dance over the weekend, and the several student assistants actively involved with THON.

From start to finish, take a look through the updates from the involvement Penn State Athletics had in THON over the weekend on 

Friday Coverage:

4:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pre-Dancing Interviews with Student-Athletes
Just over one hour from beginning the quest of spending 46-straight hours on their feet, we caught up with Marika Racibarskas from women's volleyball and Katlyn Elliott from women's golf for their final thoughts before the start of THON 2013. 

5 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Chambers Addresses Crowd, Donates $14,200
Head coach Patrick Chambers pledged to donate $10 to THON 2013 for every student in attendance at Penn State's clash against Iowa on Thursday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.  On Friday evening, just before heading to the airport with the Nittany Lions for their trip to Michigan, Chambers addressed the crowd at THON and presented a check for $14,200.  Take a look.

Saturday Coverage:

8 a.m. - VIDEO: Hour 14 Interviews from Penn State Athletics Dancers caught up with women's volleyball student-athletes and 2013 dancers Marika Racibarskas and Kristin Carpenter just before 8 a.m. on Saturday morning for an update on how things were going 14 hours into the 46-hour dance marathon.  Additionally, we talked with student writer and broadcaster Kelsey Detweiler, who is also dancing, for an update.  In addition to an interview, we asked all three what time they felt like it was.  Dancers are normally asked to avoid looking at the clock, and they rarely know what time it is.  Take a look at an hour 14 update from three Penn State Athletics representatives dancing in THON for the fight against pediatric cancer.

2 p.m. - VIDEO: Football Hosts THON Make-A-Wish Event
Seventy members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed 28 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.

The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year.  The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a photo in the locker room.

Head coach Bill O'Brien spoke to the group after it received the facility tour and signed autographs with the THON kids.  Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Photo Gallery - THON Make-A-Wish

4:10 p.m. - PHOTO - Teams Participate in Athlete Hour
Student-athletes from across Penn State Athletics spent time with THON families and children inside the practice gym of the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday afternoon for Athlete Hour.

10:10 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally.  In all, 11 different teams competed in the 2013 version of the dance-off.

With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition, largely thanks to its use of a prop pool to create a swimming scene mid-dance.  We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON.  Take a look.

Photo Gallery - THON 2013 Pep Rally

Sunday Coverage:

12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Addresses THON 2013

Head coach Bill O'Brien took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to push through the "fourth quarter" of the 46-hour marathon.  O'Brien spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Take a look.

4:12 p.m. - VIDEO: THON 2013 Reveal - $12,374,034.46
THON 2013 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $12,374,034.46 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Watch a truly inspiring moment in front of a capacity crowd in the Bryce Jordan Center during the revealing of this year's total.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2013.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match Interviews - vs. Rider

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head into the media room to hear from head coach Cael Sanderson, seniors Bryan Pearsall and Quentin Wright and sophomore Matt Brown following Sunday's 48-0 win over Rider.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Addresses THON 2013

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to push through the "fourth quarter" of the 46-hour marathon.  O'Brien spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Take a look.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Wrestling Match Blog - FINAL: #1 Penn State 48, Rider 0

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

Take a look back at Penn State's dominant 48-0 victory over Rider in the final home match of the 2012-13 season.

125: #2 Nico Megaludis Pins Patrick Skinner - 3:48
Sophomore Nico Megaludis kicked off the final home dual of the season with a bang, pinning Rider freshman Patrick Skinner at the 3:48 mark of the bout.  Megaludis took an 8-3 victory into the second period following four first-period takedowns.  He added two more takedowns in the second before turning Skinner for a pin, which put the Lions up 6-0 on the scoreboard.

133: #14 Jordan Conaway Majors Mike Shupin - 19-5
Redshirt freshman Jordan Conaway worked for a first-period takedown and a 2-0 lead against Mike Shupin from Rider.  Shupin escaped out late in the first to make it 2-1.  He added a second escape to begin the second, tying the match at 2-2, but Conaway answered with a pair of takedowns to make it 6-2.  The Lion freshman then added a fourth takedown and two near-fall points as the buzzer sounded in the second to take a 10-4 lead into the final period.  As he has done some many times this season, Conaway got stronger as the bout went on.  He used a takedown and three near-fall points to claim a 19-5 major decision victory, which put Penn State up 10-0 on the scoreboard.

141: Bryan Pearsall Pins Rob Signa - 2:01
Nittany Lion senior Bryan Pearsall put an exclamation point on his final match in Rec Hall.  The Lion veteran scored a takedown early, but it was his cradle at the 2:01 mark that handed Pearsall a win by pin over Rob Signa of Rider.  Pearsall's pin was his sixth of the season, and he improved to 18-7 on the season.  The pin put the Lions up 16-0 in the match.

149: #12 Andrew Alton Majors Curt Delia - 12-4
Sophomore Andrew Alton nearly made it two pins in just a matter of seconds when he almost completed a first-period throw against Rider's Curt Delia.  Nonetheless, Delia fended off Alton's attempts to end the match quickly.  Alton took a 6-2 lead into the second period thanks to a pair of takedowns and two near-fall points.  He notched an escape point to make it 7-2 early in the second.  From there, Alton added two more takedowns in the third frame and a riding time point for a 12-4 major decision.  Alton's major set the score at 20-0, Nittany Lions.

157: #5 Dylan Alton Defeats Zac Cibula - 5-2
Fifth-ranked Dylan Alton took a 4-1 lead against Rider's Zac Cibula after one period.  Alton completed a takedown at the 1:00 mark during a tight start to the match.  Nonetheless, the Lion sophomore took control with a late takedown for a 4-1 lead after one.  A quick escape to open the second made it 5-1, Alton.  The score remained 5-1 until Cibula opened the third period with an escape, which made it 5-2.  Alton held on for a 5-2 decision, sending Penn State into the intermission with a 23-0.

165: #2 David Taylor Pins #20 Ramon Santiago - 3:48
Junior David Taylor found himself in an unfamiliar position just seconds into his bout with 20th-ranked Ramon Santiago after the Rider junior scored a takedown.  However, Taylor came right back with a reversal to make it 2-2.  Santiago was hit with a stalling call, which put Taylor up, 3-2, after one period.  With nearly 2:45 of riding time in his pocket, Taylor turned Santiago for a fall at the 3:48 mark, handing the Nittany Lions their third pin of the afternoon and a 29-0 lead in the match.

174: #7 Matt Brown Pins James Brundage - 4:06
Seventh-ranked Matt Brown scored three takedowns in the first period for a 6-3 lead over Rider junior James Brundage.  Brown added an escape point and a fourth takedown to claim a 9-3 edge 25 seconds into the second frame.  Brown worked for a turn mid-way through the second period and notched a pin at the 4:06 mark, putting Penn State on top by a score of 35-0 in the match.

184: #1 Ed Ruth Pins Ryan Wolfe - 2:38
Defending national champion Ed Ruth wasted no time taking a quick lead in his bout against Ryan Wolfe of Rider.  Ruth built a 6-2 lead on the scoreboard before putting Wolfe on his back in the latter stages of the first period for a pin at the 2:38 mark.  Ruth's pin was his 10th of the season.

197: #2 Quentin Wright Majors Donald McNeil - 12-4
A Central Pennsylvania native and Penn State Wrestling fan since he was a child, Quentin Wright has been a big piece of the Penn State's wrestling history.  The senior wrestled inside the main gym of Rec Hall on final time on Sunday afternoon.  Wright turned in a dominant performance from start to finish against Rider sophomore Donald McNeil.  The Lion senior led 92 after two periods before tallying a 12-4 major decision with nearly 5:00 of riding time.  Wright acknowledged the crowd with a series of waves as he walked out off the mat to a standing ovation.  Wright's win set the score at 45-0 heading into the final match of the day.

285: #12 Jimmy Lawson Defeats Greg Velasco - 3-0
Sophomore Jimmy Lawson and freshman Greg Velasco wrestled to a scoreless first period in the heavyweight bout.  With the top position to open the second period, Lawson rode out Velasco to keep the match at 0-0 after two.  Lawson needed just 15 seconds to get out of the bottom position and score a reversal to take a 2-0 lead in the match.  Lawson rode out Velasco in the third period for a 3-0 victory, which set the final score at 48-0 in favor of Penn State.

The top-ranked Nittany Lions were sharp from start to finish in a truly dominant performance in the final home match of the 2012-13 season.  Behind pins from Megaludis, Pearsall, Taylor, Brown and Ruth, Penn State looked like a team beginning to find its stride heading into the month of March and the postseason.  Head coach Cael Sanderson said after the match that he is looking for the Nittany Lions to go for pins and to score bonus points at this point in the season because extra points will be crucial in Penn State's quest for another Big Ten and national title in March.  The Nittany Lions head to Rutgers on Sunday for their final home match of the season before shifting focus towards the postseason in March.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Seniors Bid Farewell to Greenberg in Style

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By Pat White Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--In an emotional game for players, coaches, fans and alumni, Penn State (12-13) bid farewell to the Greenberg Ice Pavilion with a 3-0 victory against Oklahoma on Saturday (Feb. 16).

8587925.jpegFrom the moment the players took the ice there was a bittersweet vibe throughout the arena. The fans brought their usual Penn State pride and the players were ready to take care of business after not having their best effort in Friday night's 4-1 victory. 

"There have been a lot of standards set and a foundation built," Gadowsky said. "Even the first time I came out and saw the student section and saw the support we had, it was fantastic."

The Penn State faithful did not disappoint this season, standing and chanting every game to give the team a motivational boost. Gadowsky reflected back on one of his favorite memories of the student section.

"[The fans] made it a really fun place to play," Gadowsky said. "I'll never forget when the PA system went off and the student section started singing the anthem. Those are the things I'll always remember."

The home rink didn't want to go out without a bang of its own. At the 4:08 mark in the first period, a pane of glass broke in front of the penalty box. Both teams went to the dressing room while rink attendants fixed the glass. The ice was cut and both teams played out the remaining time in what was essentially a 24 minute second period.

For the second straight night, establishing a flow to the game was difficult. Aside from the glass breaking, the low boards of the rink cause a lot of pucks to fly out of play and disrupt the flow. Gadowsky is looking forward to having higher boards at the Pegula Ice Arena next season.

Despite some of the rink's deficiencies in that respect, Gadowsky will still miss the character of the rink and its service to the State College community.

Greenberg Ice Pavilion was not the only goodbye being said over the weekend, as the seniors were honored before Saturday's game with their families. Brian Dolan (Havertown, Pa.) unfortunately did not dress due to injury, something Gadowsky was upset about, but he was proud of the seniors for their role in the inaugural season of Division I hockey.

"I'm happy for them and what they've done this year," Gadowsky said. "They will have a lot of pride in this forever. It was nice how it ended up with a tie game going in the third with all of them out there."

Gadowsky rehashed that last season was a yearlong tryout for the seniors and they worked their hardest to earn a spot on the team. Their leadership and willingness to accept identity roles is what makes them important pieces to the team.

The first two periods were a battle of the goaltenders. Matt Skoff (McKees Rocks, Pa.) was strong for Penn State and Colin Fernandes made some key saves to keep the Sooners in the game.

After taking a 1-0 lead off the stick of Curtis Loik (North Vancouver, B.C.), the power play took over with two goals to seal the game. Kenny Brooks (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Michael Longo (Allison Park, Pa.) found the back of the net on consecutive nights.

It was fitting that Longo finished his career on home ice by scoring against a club team where his career began. Longo said there was still a rivalry between the two teams stemming from knocking them out of nationals last season.

"It's always fun scoring, but it's even more special now that it's coming down to the last two games," Longo said. "For us club guys, when we come back and play these [ACHA] games we get more fired up because we've played them before."

Freshman Joseph Lordo (St. Louis, Mo.) made his return to the lineup on Saturday after sitting out with an injury. After dressing only four defensemen the past three games, Lordo provided a big boost to the defensive unit.  Having another defenseman alleviated the other defenders who had to play every other shift in the three previous games.

Defenseman Rich O'Brien (Furlong, Pa.) was glad to have Lordo back in the lineup. After a rough start to Saturday's game, O'Brien was happy with the result of his last game at home.

"Starting the game with all the seniors out there and we got to finish it up with that, too," O'Brien said. "The fans were great and a lot of alumni were in town and a lot of people I know. Overall it was a great time."

The weekend sweep was the proper goodbye to the place and the people that helped set the brickwork for the future of Penn State hockey. It was an emotional conclusion to a successful inaugural season of NCAA hockey in Happy Valley, but the job isn't over yet. The Nittany Lions now turn their focus to a visit to future Big Ten opponent Wisconsin next weekend.



VIDEO: Football Hosts THON Make-A-Wish Event

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Seventy members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed 28 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.

The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year.  The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a photo in the locker room.

Head coach Bill O'Brien spoke to the group after it received the facility tour and signed autographs with the THON kids.  Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Seniors Prepare for Last Home Series; Part Two

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By Pat White Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--In the second installment of the senior profile, Rich O'Brien (Furlong, Pa.), Dominic Morrone (Sewell, N.J.) and Brian Dolan (Havertown, Pa.) reflect on their Penn State hockey careers heading into their last home game against ACHA opponent Oklahoma.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky is proud of the entire senior class for their roles in building the foundation for the Penn State hockey at the Division I level. They played a major part in some program-defining wins and helped the team succeed beyond anyone's expectations.

"The freshman came in and there was a new feeling of excitement and they were giddy to get started," Gadowsky said. "The seniors were the same way. They looked like little kids with wide eyes of excitement. I enjoyed sitting back and watching them. They are good guys, a lot of fun and I'm proud to have had them experience this [season]."

The seniors were brought over from the club team because they exemplified what Penn State is all about. They work hard both on the ice and in the classroom and represent what it means to be a student-athlete. Gadowsky brought them in to be an example to the younger players and he said they did that with flying colors.

Brian Dolan
Coming to Penn State, the thought of playing Division I hockey never crossed Dolan's mind. The senior defenseman is honored to have played a part in building an up-and-coming program for Penn State. Unfortunately for Dolan, he is sidelined with an injury and will not play in the final home series of his career. Nonetheless, he is proud of his hockey journey.

Dolan-Brian.jpeg"The whole journey of making the team originally to [the seniors] was incredible with [the program] making the transition to a Division I program," Dolan said. "I'm excited to see where this program ends up. I'm proud to be a part of it."

Dolan was one of five Nittany Lions from the Philadelphia area who had the opportunity to play in front of the Philadelphia faithful at the Wells Fargo Center. It was a chance to showcase Penn State hockey to his hometown and for loved ones to see him play.

"I have a bunch of family and friends [in Philadelphia]," Dolan said. "A lot of people that saw me play that night have never seen me play. Just to play in front of that crowd, hometown people, and my family was great. Obviously it was a big win for our program, too."

Like some of his fellow seniors, Dolan is still going through the interview process. Majoring in film and video, Dolan is looking into sports broadcasting and sports media. He would like to work at ESPN or NFL Films in a production role.

Dominic Morrone
The best word to describe the final game at Greenberg Ice Pavilion is bittersweet, which is how Morrone feels going into this weekend. He is happy about the direction of Penn State hockey, but admits it is going to be an emotional game. Morrone and the other seniors have accomplished great feats the past four years and bidding "The 'Berg" farewell is not easy.

Morrone-Dominic.jpegMorrone echoed O'Brien, saying that the win against Ohio his freshman year when he assisted on the game-winning goal in overtime was one of his favorite memories. It wasn't until this year that that memory was trumped by a homecoming to Philadelphia.

"This year the Vermont game in Philadelphia was awesome," said Morrone. "Playing in front of a sold out crowd is awesome and you can't ask for much more than that."

Morrone's friends and family were in attendance for the sold out affair at the Wells Fargo Center. The opportunity to show people outside of State College that Penn State is a formidable hockey program was a great experience.

"It was great because not many people knew about Penn State, especially the caliber of team we are and how we progressed throughout the season," Morrone said. "To beat a well-established team like Vermont speaks volumes about this team. It was even better being able to do it close to home."

Morrone and the other seniors worked very hard to make it to this point and he hopes their legacy lives on. Morrone plans on getting his masters degree in accounting, and returning to Hockey Valley to watch the program continue to progress.

"We all love this place," Morrone said. "We look forward to coming back, especially with thePegula Ice Arena opening next year. We're trying to get back as much as we can. This is an exciting time for the program."

Rich O'Brien
Penn State dealt with its fair share of injuries this season, especially on the back end. In the absence of some key defensemen, O'Brien stepped up as the wily veteran on the blue line, bringing a calming presence to the defensive corp. His adeptness at blocking shots and throwing big hits make him a key cog on defense.

OBrien-Rich.jpegO'Brien is excited for his last home series this weekend, but wants to finish it off with two wins against former ACHA rival Oklahoma. The history between the two teams dating back to the when Penn State was a club program is a great end of a great run at Greenberg Ice Pavilion.

"Probably one of my favorite memories is my freshman year. We played an away game against Ohio." O'Brien recalled of his club hockey days. "One of our seniors, Steve Thurston got a feed from Dom Morrone and scored a goal with 0.2 left on the clock in overtime. It was a great feeling. Oklahoma was always competitive against us and that was a big one."

O'Brien embraced the transition to the Division I level. He admitted it was challenging at first adapting to a roster laden with new faces and the speed of the game. It took time to get used to the new players, but it was part of the challenge posed to O'Brien to raise the level of his game.

"I feel like my game was improving at the ACHA level, but it could only go so far," O'Brien said. "It was nice to see that I could step up and play with the Division I teams. A lot of us proved that to ourselves that we can play at this level of hockey."

The last four years as a student-athlete have been very special to O'Brien. He said that he wouldn't change anything and has no regrets about coming to such a great university. O'Brien, a finance major, plans on staying in the State College area next year before moving on to bigger plans in the finance field in Atlanta, Ga.

"I'm set with a job and I'll be back here next fall semester," O'Brien said. "I'll be able hang out with some of the guys and then I'm off to Atlanta for a job."


VIDEO: Coach Chambers Donates $14,200 to THON

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Patrick Chambers pledged to donate $10 to THON 2013 for every student in attendance at Penn State's clash against Iowa on Thursday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.  On Friday evening, just before heading to the airport with the Nittany Lions for their trip to Michigan, Chambers addressed the crowd at THON and presented a check for $14,200.  Take a look.

Reihl's Experience Enhances Young Program

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By: Sean Flanery, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four years ago, when senior Lindsay Reihl (Cheshire, Conn.) made Penn State her college choice coming out of high school, she thought her dream of one-day playing Division I hockey was over.

Reihl-Lindsay (3).jpegUpon arriving in University Park, Reihl became a star defenseman on the university's women's club team, the Penn State Lady Icers, which competed in the Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League at the non-NCAA level in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

While with the club team, Reihl thrived on the ice helping to lead her team to an ACHA tournament appearance in 2010, as well as an ECWHL regular season title in 2012. The Connecticut native was also named the team's Defensive Player of the Year during each season she spent at the club level.

However, during her third season with the Lady Icers, Reihl's dream of one-day competing at the Division I level, which had previously seemed to vanish, came to life again.

"As soon as I heard that [Penn State] was adding a Division I team, I wanted to play for it," said Reihl. "It's had always been my dream to play Division I hockey, but I just never thought that it would actually happen, so when I heard [Penn State] got a team I just tried to work really hard. This has been an amazing transition. It's an unreal experience playing Division I hockey and I love it."

It wasn't too long after the hiring of head coach Josh Brandwene to lead the Nittany Lions that the team announced the addition of 12 new players to the inaugural seasons roster, one of which being Reihl. The defensemen's dream had become a reality right before her eyes and the opportunity had practically fallen in her lap.

As time passed, the dream Reihl was finally living kept expanding. In mid-September just before the season began, the team collectively took a vote on who would become the assistant captains alongside junior captain Taylor Gross (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Once again Reihl's name appeared. The senior became one of Penn State's two assistant captains, alongside junior Jenna Welch, it its inaugural campaign.

"It was awesome because I didn't have any Division I experience myself, but now I am a leader on the team," said Reihl. "I can teach everyone our Penn State ways and I had help from Taylor and Jenna. They're awesome co-captains. They've just helped with the whole Division I transition and they're really awesome to work with."

With both Gross and Welch transferring from Connecticut last year and 17 freshmen coming in to fill out the program's roster in its first season, it was vital for Penn State to have a leader that was familiar with the university.

"It's great," said Gross. "Lindsay and I have become really good friends and it's great to have experience on the team. Especially in hockey and school wise, she has done a really good job of helping the younger girls adjust."

Now, Penn State (7-20-2) is no longer a team compiled of transfers, former club members, and freshmen, but it's rather a battle-tested seasoned group as coach Brandwene so often puts it.

Penn State's progress this season may not always show on the scoreboard, but due in part to the tremendous captaincies of Gross, Reihl and Welch, the Lions have created high hopes for a bright future for women's hockey in Happy Valley.

"I think we have come a long way since the beginning of the season," said Reihl. "In September, we had seventeen freshmen and now everyone has equal experience. Everyone is working together, we're meshing, and the chemistry is amazing. We have come a long way and I think we are playing some of our best hockey right now. I'm excited to see what we can bring in the playoffs."

With only four games remaining, the Nittany Lions hope to fine tune some areas of play before the team makes its first ever College Hockey America tournament appearance.

The next drop of the puck for Penn State will be this Friday night at 7 p.m. in the first of a two-game series with Rochester Institute of Technology (12-13-5).



Seniors Prepare for Last Home Series; Part One

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By Pat White Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This coming series against ACHA opponent Oklahoma (21-11-0-2) will be the final homestand for the Nittany Lions (12-13) in Greenberg Ice Pavilion. For the underclassmen, it marks the transition to Pegula Ice Arena next season. As for the senior class, it closes the book on their Penn State hockey playing days, both club and varsity, and the start of the next chapter of their lives.

In the first part of a two part series you will get to know seniors Michael Longo (Allison Park, Pa.), George Saad (Wexford, Pa.) and Eric Steinour (Carlisle, Pa.).

Six seniors successfully went through a yearlong tryout to make the team last season while Penn State hockey was still at the club level. With the incoming freshmen class of 10 players and four transfer players, there were only a couple spots left. The senior class brought experienced leadership that the younger players needed.

"We knew we were getting a really great group of people in this senior class," head coach Guy Gadowsky said about the seniors. "I knew they'd do a great job of building a foundation."

Michael Longo
Every team needs an energy guy among the bottom six forwards who will throw a big hit and be a pest for the other team. That was Longo this season. He always played with a snarl and never shied away from contact.

Longo said that he and the team are preparing for Oklahoma just as they would for any other opponent.

"[Oklahoma] is an ACHA team so we want to win all of our objectives and beat them every period," Longo said. "We also want to have fun now that we are coming down to the end of the season, especially for us seniors."

Longo-Michael.jpegHe said that it is bittersweet heading into the final homestand of his Penn State career, but knows the program will continue to move forward. He plans on coming back as an alumnus to see his teammates play in Pegula Ice Arena.

After three years at the club level, Longo was rewarded for all of his hard work with a chance to play on the varsity team. As a kid he wanted to play at the highest level of hockey he could and got that opportunity this year. Longo is excited to see how the program continues to develop as he moves on to life after hockey. Looking back on his experience, Longo recalled his favorite moment of his collegiate hockey career

"Despite being a Pittsburgh kid, playing in Philadelphia in front of the almost packed Wells Fargo Center was unbelievable," Longo said. "It was really cool to see all the fans come out and support us."

Longo was called into a leadership role this season with the 10 incoming freshmen. He and the other seniors led with a voice in the locker room, but also off the ice helping the newcomers adjust to the new environment.

There were adjustments to make in terms of new faces on the team and among the coaching staff. Longo wanted to set the foundation for a program that, he believes, will be one of the best in college hockey in the years to come.

Looking to the future, Longo isn't sure about his plans after graduation. He admitted he hasn't given it much thought, but would like to get his MBA and get a job in Pittsburgh, Pa. Longo wants to stay a major part of the Penn State hockey family, and wants to make an impact even after graduation.

"I always want to be part of this program as a player or as an alumnus in the future," Longo said. "I will come back for games and come back and visit. I want to come back as much as I can. You fall in love with this place."

George Saad
Saad mentioned that the last home series is a bittersweet feeling for him. He said that it's exciting to play his last home games, especially against an ACHA team because that is where he began his journey to the Division I level.

Saad has scored a few game-winning goals in his career and has had some big moments as a Penn State hockey player. Looking back on the past four years, Saad shared two standout memories.

Saad-George.jpeg"My first goal scoring in overtime of my fir