By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Playing at home at the Bryce Jordan Center has become a luxury for the No. 8 Penn State Lady Lions, who haven't dropped a game at home since Jan. 7 2012.
Who was the opponent? Michigan State. The same school that the Lady Lions will host on Sunday at 2 p.m.
However, since that 75-65 loss, Coquese Washington's squad hasn't relinquished the benefits of playing in the BJC. Penn State is a perfect 17-0 at home since the loss to MSU, including wins over two ranked teams in Nebraska and Purdue this season.
The Lady Lions feed off their home crowd, whether it be when Maggie Lucas pumps up the crowd after forcing a turnover or the fans are on their feet when Penn State begins a scoring run, the presence is felt.
By taking a look back at the recent home conference games, a point in each game can be picked out where the Lady Lions went on a run. Particularly, in their last game against Purdue where both teams were fighting back and forth, Lucas said it was the home crowd that helped them seal the deal against the Boilermakers.
"I think we had a great crowd on Monday. We loved playing in front of [a good crowd], it gave us unbelievable energy. They were into it the entire game, we had more students, it was a fun environment to play in," said Lucas.
Washington has been pushing for continued and growing support from the students, who made a good showing against the Boilermakers.
Based on the way the crowd was able to make its presence felt against Purdue, Washington has no doubt that they are yet another asset for her Lady Lion team.
"Absolutely [the student section] affects the game in a very positive way," said Washington. "Our kids get so excited to play for their fans. It just brings an added energy in the building and gives us another weapon to go to," said Washington.
In the 11 home games Penn State has averaged just below 4,700 fans per game and had over 5,000 against Purdue. In contrast, the average attendance for a Lady Lion road game has been just above 4,000.
With a big game coming up Sunday against a Spartan team that has persevered despite injuries the crowd is essential for one of Penn State's bigger conference rivals.
"I think it's going to be a great crowd," said Washington. "Michigan State is another pretty big rival for us so I'm anticipating another great crowd. It's going to be a fantastic basketball game."
The Lady Lions have three more home games remaining, including the Pink Zone game against Michigan on Feb. 24 and Washington hopes to see the fans to continue to have an impact and expects they will on Sunday against Michigan State.
"It's going to be a fantastic game and I'm fully anticipating another good student crowd and another six to seven thousand people filling up the BJC," said Washington.