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By Michael James McClelland, Student-Athlete Writer
Geneva, Ohio - From my view, with a fourth place finish for the men and the women tying for third place, it is safe to say that both Penn State squads left the SPIRE Institute without accomplishing all they wanted to at the Big Ten Championships. Though the team scores left something to be desired, our individual efforts were outstanding and should not be overshadowed.

On the men's side, we found an abundance of personal records and champions.  Captain Darrell Hill was seeded first in the men's shot put in which he followed through with his seemingly effortless victory.  Brian Leap came through with a lifetime best jump of 52-6.75 to secure second place in the triple jump, with Steve Waithe close behind in third. On the track, we got to see Robby Creese and Brannon Kidder dominate the men's mile with a first and second place finish, respectively. Robby Creese also came through with a huge victory in the men's 3k and Matt Fischer finished well in the event to score us three points.

On the women's side, we found an equally impressive amount of notable performances. Without a doubt, one of the performances that stood out in my mind is one that may not have scored us points, but definitely motivated us as a team. Sophomore Kasey Kemp has been battling an injury for years and came into the Big Ten Championship with a season best of only 11-10, and came through with a lifetime best of 12-9.25. Kemp's teammates Hannah Mulhern and Lexi Masterson came through with season bests.

As for the first event on Friday, the women spurred into action with season bests from Kiah Seymour in the 400m dash, Shelley Black in the 60m hurdles, and a truly determined victory from Tori Gerlach in the 5k.

All in all, this weekend was not what we wanted, but it's what we do with this feeling going into the outdoor season that will make all the difference.  As a squad, I know we are all close friends and all want to see each other succeed.  Outdoors we have the great additions of Mike Shuey in the javelin and a healthy Rob Cardina in the decathlon. With the inclusion of their leadership qualities and our ability, as a unit, to synthesize this frustration into motivation, I truly believe outdoors will yield us spectacular results.  Best of luck to those competing at Indoor Nationals.  Go State!

Seniors Cap Off Stellar Home Season

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10842577.jpegBy Gabby Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Saturday's senior night was bittersweet for coaches Jeff and Rachelle Thompson - the four seniors honored were the first gymnasts they recruited as coaches for Penn State.

Seniors Krystal Welsh, Sidney Sanabria-Robles, Alex Witt, and Lexi Carroll contributed to Penn State's quad meet win on Saturday, finishing ahead of Iowa State, Penn and SUNY Brockport, capping off their undefeated home slate this season.

These seniors are special, as they, along with the coaching staff, have again put Penn State on the map as one of the top women's collegiate gymnastics programs. Aside from their contributions to the sport, these girls have created a familial environment for the program; the trust they have in one another has made them as successful as they are today.

"From day one, these girls have been developing this trust for one another," head coach Jeff Thompson said. "We have this saying, 'grab the rope.' When one of your teammates is having a bad day or doesn't perform as well on a routine, it is their job to support one another. If everyone is 'holding on' and supporting one another, being successful and doing what we do at practice in meets becomes that much easier."

It was no surprise to fans watching on Saturday that the seniors performed as well as they did. Welsh clinched the all-around title, finishing with a season best score of 39.400. She tied for first on vault with a score of 9.925 and earned a winning score of 9.875 on floor.

Sanabria-Robles trailed Welsh for the all-around crown with a score of 39.300. After a miss-step on uneven bars, the senior bounced back in a big way, scoring a 9.900 on vault, 9.850 on floor, and winning the balance beam crown with a score of 9.900.

"We worked really hard on details this week," Sanabria-Robles said. "We wanted to do what we do in the gym in the meet, and we did that in three out of four events today. Once we put it all together, we will be good to go."

Witt has been a consistent competitor for Penn State on uneven bars all season, after coming back from a thumb injury, which left her worried she wouldn't compete. Witt placed second on bars with a score of 9.800. Carroll was not in the starting rotation, but she competed in an exhibition routine on floor, earning a 9.775, capping off her career as the last performer of the day.

The Nittany Lions finished with an overall team score of 196.650, just shy of their meet goal of 197.

"You always want to score the 197," Witt said. "We keep adding more little details and sticks, hoping to get to the 197 that we need. We are consistent and we know we are hitting every routine because we trust each other and work off of each other. Every time we compete, the little things help bring us to the next level."

Since the beginning of the season, these gymnasts have been working tirelessly to see out their goal: win every meet. After Saturday's performance, they have won all but two matchups this season, both of which were on the road.

"We want to win the Big Ten tournament," Sanabria-Robles said. "That has been a dream of ours forever, since we started our journey here. We want to make it to nationals, just do what we know we can do. If we do that, we can make it into the Super Six and that is definitely the ultimate dream for us."

"At the rate we are going, we are on the right path," Witt added.

There is a sign outside of the Penn State women's gymnastics facility, which reads, "little eyes are watching." So many young gymnasts attend home meets at Rec Hall, watching these gymnasts every move. They have been conditioned to be stellar student athletes, but often times in a sport like gymnastics, which is just as mentally challenging as it is physical, you can get caught up in sticking a landing or earning a certain score. These gymnasts never lose sight of that; they know they are not only champions for the sport, but role models for those aspiring to be just like them.

"I got really emotional making their senior video," Thompson said. "This was a great way for these girls to end their career in Rec Hall. These girls don't let little things bother them. When they have mistakes they put them behind them quickly. These girls are special; for them to go undefeated at home in their senior season is special." 

No. 9 Lions Defeated by No. 8 Virginia in Final Seconds

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Headed into this weekend, the Penn State women's lacrosse team knew it would have a challenge on its hand. With No. 8 Virginia coming to town, the No. 9 Nittany Lions were ready for their first big test of the season, taking on another top-ten team.

Throughout the entirety of Saturday's game, it was clear the two were evenly matched. Any time the Cavaliers took the lead, Penn State would fire back and vice versa. There was never more than a two-goal lead on either side.

Unfortunately for the Blue and White, a Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC) goal with four seconds left in second half proved to be the difference maker. The Nittany Lions (3-1, 0-0 B1G) suffered their first loss of the season, falling 16-15.

"Playing Virginia is always just like this," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I mean, I don't know how many games since I've been here it's been a one-point game, but I think it's been a lot. We always know it's going to be super competitive, and I think it really was two teams playing well. It was unfortunate to come out with the loss, but we had a chance to win it there in the last couple seconds. All you can ask for is those chances."

Despite the competitive nature, Doherty was not expecting such a high-scoring game. Both teams were in the double digits after the first thirty minutes.

The Lions and Cavaliers were tied at 10 after Penn State scored in the final seconds of the first half. The determination to score showed the Lions would not easily give up. They would fight until the end.

"I think it was really important," said Doherty of heading into halftime tied. "Our team fights for 60 minutes, and that's a good example of you know, it doesn't matter if there's still time on the clock. We're going to go hard. That was just a good example of going hard and finishing strong."

Throughout the game, the Lions saw goals from seven different student-athletes, continuing their strong offensive trend. Madison Cyr, Tatum Coffey, Kelly Lechner, Abby Smucker, Steph Lazo, Katie O'Donnell and Maggie Gallagher all found the back of the cage.

Cyr led the way with a game-high five goals. The junior now has eight on the season, which is not at all surprising to her coach.

"She's a clutch player," Doherty said of Cyr. "She always comes up big in big games. It's no different than any other game that we've been in that she comes in with a really good game."

With mere minutes left, it looked as though the Lions may edge out Virginia. Penn State evened the scoring once again with 2:26 remaining. The team got the ball back shortly thereafter and was able to work its offense.

However, a foul with 13 seconds left gave Virginia possession. The Cavaliers' final shot resulted in the go-ahead goal. With such little time, the Nittany Lions were unable to force yet another tie.

"It was a tough game defensively," Doherty said. "I take full responsibility for that. We had a game plan, and it didn't work. That's my fault. We want to come back for the next game and make sure that we give the players the best opportunity to win."

Although the outcome was not what Penn State was hoping for, the Blue and White battled and played for a full sixty minutes. The team was competitive and strong.

The Nittany Lions will take the field again next Saturday as look to return to their winning ways against Loyal Maryland.

Lions Fall to the Buckeyes on the Road

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State men's hockey team prepared for its final regular-season series against Ohio State, it knew the importance the outcome would have on the overall season. With two weekends left before the Big Ten Tournament, winning conference matchups is crucial.

Every team is looking for points. Every team is hungry for victories.

However, the results of the weekend were not what the Nittany Lions had hoped for, as the team was swept on the road for the second time this month. Both Friday and Saturday nights, the Buckeyes (11-17-2, 6-10-0 B1G) downed the Blue and White (16-12-4, 8-7-1 B1G), 5-3.

"I think our biggest problem this weekend is we kind of got away from our game," said sophomore Mike Williamson. "We started off having pretty good first and second periods but then ended up leaving the game we've been having success with. That ended up coming back to haunt us toward the end of the games and cost us two wins."

Although the Nittany Lions went up early Friday night with a Tommy Olczyk goal 30 seconds into the game, the team struggled to maintain a lead as Ohio State notched three unanswered tallies. Dylan Richard scored Penn State's second goal, cutting the deficit to one, but the Buckeyes answered with two more in the third period. Penn State was unable to recover.

Working to put Friday night behind them, the Nittany Lions took the ice Saturday ready to get to work. Surprisingly, much of the crowd was on their side, as the Roar Zone made the trip from Hockey Valley to Ohio. The presence of Penn State's student body in enemy territory helped the Blue and White immensely.

"The Roar Zone coming all the way to Ohio to watch us play on the road is another reason why they're the best student section in college hockey," Williamson said. "They allow us to gain some energy in an opponent's building, which is a pretty rare thing. They're always loud and rowdy. It really helps us light a fire in our game."

Penn State started strong, scoring twice in the first period. Casey Bailey put away his 21st goal of the season, and Taylor Holstrom nabbed his seventh. At the end of the opening 20 minutes, the Nittany Lions had a 2-1 lead over the Buckeyes.

Ohio State tied the game on a power play goal in the second, but less than three minutes later, Williamson grabbed his first goal of the season to put the Lions on top once again.

"Obviously, that's an exciting time, scoring a goal," Williamson said. "Basically, I was just putting the puck on net and there was a lot of traffic in front. Our forwards did a great job getting in the goalie's way, and it ended up going in."

Things were looking up for the team as it sustained the lead. Unfortunately, that positivity abruptly came to an end.

Holstrom, who has been a major leader for this Penn State team, left the ice with an injury. His absence was very noticeable, as the Blue and White seemed to break down without the senior in the game.

"He's obviously a key asset to our team's success," Williamson said of Holstrom. "He's a great player who really brings an aggressive attitude that rubs off on the whole team. So, losing a guy like that has a big impact, but we can't let it affect us in the sense that we've got playoffs coming up. We need to be mentally tough and make sure that we maintain a high level of play without him if he's not able to go."

Following Holstrom's departure, the Buckeyes tacked on three goals in just over four minutes, sealing the Lions' fate.

Leaving Ohio with two losses in hand was the exact opposite of what the Nittany Lions wanted. Nevertheless, the team knows staying positive at this point in the season is a must.

Penn State needs to leave the series behind and focus on the two upcoming weekends.

"It's something that as a hockey player you kind of learn to do," Williamson said. "You're going to have bad weekends, bad games, bad shifts, whatever the case is. It's just about being able to cancel out the past. You have to use it as a learning tool as opposed to a negative influence.

"We're just going to look toward Michigan and Minnesota to finish off the season as a good stepping-stone to playoffs. It's going to be two good weekends of hockey, which will prepare us for the level of hockey that we need to have going into the Big Ten Tournament."

Leadership Leads Nittany Lions to Successful Road Trip

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10741348.jpegBy Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Thanks to the veteran leadership of outside hitter Aaron Russell and opposite Nick Goodell, the Nittany Lions (6-9, 4-0 EIVA) earned their first two conference road wins of the season over the weekend at Sacred Heart and Harvard.

After a long bus trip from University Park to Sacred Heart, the Blue and White defeated the Pioneers (4-8, 1-4 EIVA) Friday night in straight sets (25-16, 25-11, 25-21). Then the team continued their journey to Cambridge where the Nittany Lions topped Harvard (9-5, 3-2) in four sets (21-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-22) in a heated match Saturday evening.

"Hopefully it's the first two of many," said Goodell. "It feels good finally to see the hard work pay off."

Being on the road is not as easy as it looks. It is imperative to maintain a certain standard of balance. For Penn State men's volleyball, the preparation for an extended trip away from Rec Hall starts at the beginning of the week.

"Earlier in the week we tell them what the deal is," said Russell on mentoring the underclassmen. "For this trip, we know it's a long bus ride, tough gyms to play in and Harvard is a good team, so we just lay that out first and foremost. I just tell them how to cope with such a long trip: sleep when you can, take naps, get as much sleep at night whenever you can, and try to make yourself feel at home as possible."

According to head coach Mark Pavlik, the success that his program has achieved over the course of his 21-year regime is why his team is always ready for the road.

"It's become such an ingrained expectation with this program that we will be on long road trips," said Pavlik. "It's now the day-to-day grind. You talk about recovery. You talk about sleep. You talk about taking care of classes and making sure you spend your time wisely at those things so you can recover and get ready for the next trip."

A scheduled itinerary helps keep the team on the same page. From when breakfast is, to serve and pass, to the scouting report and film session, all the way to the pregame meal, an organized plan maintains order.

More importantly, the close quarters on the bus allows the team to come together and build a tightknit rapport.

"Cooped up with your teammates in a relatively small space on the bus, because we are so tall, we just use it to our advantage," said Russell. "We get to know each other better and are able to build team chemistry. We're having fun, and we're building relationships, too."

After both wins this weekend, the Nittany Lions stand alone atop the EIVA standings, a conference that the Blue and White has dominated over the years.

Penn State rolled past the Pioneers on Friday night. Eleven kills apiece from Russell and Chris Nugent and six digs from Connor Curry and Russell led the charge. The Blue and White hitting percentage was .403, while the Lions held Sacred Heart to just .125.

Saturday was a different story, as the Nittany Lions went into the match against Harvard knowing it would be a war. Goodell took charge though, compiling a match-high 25 kills to pace Penn State. Curry added 12 more digs to keep Penn State on its toes defensively.

According to Pavlik, his team's level-headedness led to this past weekend's stellar play.

"Level-headed is very accurate because it seemed like on Friday night Sacred Heart just folded the tents, but we didn't let up," said Pavlik. "We didn't follow their lead and say 'well, if they don't want to play, we're not going to play hard.' We kept playing hard. [Against Harvard], we hit that stretch at the end of game one where we made a couple of errors, let it get away from us, but we didn't change mentality, and we played hard through the rest of the match. It just seemed like we outplayed Harvard from about 17 or 18 on for the next three games. We had a very purposeful mindset. Nobody was getting upset at getting punched back in the nose from a good team. That's a good thing to see. We maximized some of our strengths with our serving, and we were pretty efficient with our attacking. More than anything else, we are still on an upward climb with this journey of a season. We will see where we wind up in the next couple of weeks."

Upcoming for Penn State is a bye week. The next EIVA conference match will not be played until March 27 at home against Princeton. During spring break, the Nittany Lions will be headed to the west coast for a few matches, starting with USC on Tuesday, March 10.

"We're proving that we are getting better," said Pavlik. "A season is simply an evolution of change where you hope, at the end of the year when everything matters; your change has been one of maximization and efficiency."

By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 4 men's gymnastics team finished their final home meet of the regular season with a 440.800-435.750 win over No. 7 Iowa on Friday evening on Senior Night.

"It's bittersweet," said senior Tristan Duverglas. "I knew this day would come, but you can't really prepare for it, but it definitely means a lot to me, just being my last regular meet in Rec Hall. I'm just glad we got to see the crowd, something to really end it on a big note."

The Nittany Lions won five out of the six events and earned four individual titles. Junior Alexis Torres placed first in all around and still rings, freshman Thad Lawson finished first in floor exercise with a score of 15.700 and senior Craig Hernandez secured the title for pommel horse with a score of 15.250. Freshman Quest Hayden also tied for first with Iowa on vault.

"We had five misses tonight and our goal was a 100 percent, so we were 85 percent," said head coach Randy Jepson. "We also wanted to hit a lot more sticks than five. We wanted to get a minimum of 10, so we didn't do what we wanted to do. Pommel horse was a little bit of a problem; we had two breaks there. We're just going to have to be better as we go here...Overall, not too bad."

Senior Matthew Felleman started the meet off for Penn State in the first rotation, the floor exercise. He finished with a score of 15.050 and helped energize the team to grab four of the top five spots in the event.

"It's definitely a hit routine in the beginning," said Felleman. "It gets the energy going and it's what Randy's looking for."

Though Felleman loves to bring liveliness to his teammates, he loves the enthusiasm that the crowd at Rec Hall brings to the meets even more.

"[I'm going to remember] the meets at Rec Hall the most because the crowd's awesome, especially when we get a nice and loud "We Are...Penn State" from the crowd. That's what shakes me," said

After the meet, the five seniors were recognized with individual video montages of their gymnastics careers, from the early childhood years to their time at Penn State.

"It was crazy [to see myself on the screen]," said Duverglas. "I didn't even know my parents had some of those videos, but it's just odd to see how hard we've come from the middle competition that we did as kids to competing for a university, like Penn State. The transition is just insane."

Four years may seem like a long time, but it goes by quicker than one would believe.

"[The videos] made me realize how fast it went by, especially when I went up to Randy and shook his hand and he goes, 'I told you it would go by fast,'" said Felleman. "I remember when I was a freshman and our seniors were doing this and now it's real."

The men's gymnastics team finished their regular home meet with a win and coach Jepson had only high praise for the five seniors and everything they've accomplished.

"They're just great guys," said coach Jepson. "These guys come in and they get to know what our program is all about and they get to know our staff and we get to know them. It's really a bond that's made between all of us to get them to be the best they can everywhere. You know, it's tough to say goodbye, they've got a couple more seasons, so we're not going to say goodbye fully yet, but it's great to see the videos of when they're youngsters in their first couple of meets when they're kids. They're just hardworking young guys and they/re great people, so that's what keeps me ticking in this job - I love what I do because I love my guys and they're just wonderful young men."

Yoxheimer Leads Penn State to CHA Tournament Semifinal

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10839180.jpegBy Sean Donnelly, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the final two weeks of the regular season on its mind, the Penn State women's hockey team knew it was important to get off to a hot start in the postseason.

And the Nittany Lions knew they needed to play their best game if they wanted to advance to the CHA semifinals.

The Nittany Lions (15-15-4, 9-9-2 CHA) hosted Lindenwood (10-19-2, 7-11-2 CHA) for a best-of-three set at Pegula Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday. Fortunately, the Nittany Lions squad rewarded themselves with some extra rest by not allowing the series to go all three games thanks to a 2-0 sweep.

The victory on Friday night was a seesaw battle, as the Lions shutout Lindenwood 1-0. The Lions came out fast and strong, establishing a strong forecheck and putting pressure on anyone who touched the puck. Lindenwood was never able to get into a rhythm on offense.

The Nittany Lions struck first when junior captain Shannon Yoxheimer scored on the power play with a great pass from Kelly Seward. Yoxheimer, who is the program's career goals, assists and points leader, was able to get in front of the net for the tip-in. It was the only goal Penn State would need to get the win.

"It feels really awesome because it's what we have been working for," said Yoxheimer. "It just shows that we are getting so much better every single year. It's a big step for the program."

The story of the game was goaltender Celine Whitlinger's absolutely stellar play in net, stopping all 23 shots she faced for her third shutout of the season. Following the game, Whitlinger did not shy away from praising the Nittany Lions playing front of her.

"We've been working hard in practice," said Whitlinger. "It's definitely a team effort and we've got each others backs."

"It was a total team effort this evening," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "Great physical effort, tremendous patience and really good decision-making. It was just a really good playoff atmosphere at Pegula Arena.

The celebration of Penn State's first CHA playoff win didn't last long, as focus was already on to Saturday's game.

"We want to come off strong tomorrow like we did today," said Brandwene. "It's important to get better as a team tomorrow. Improve, get better, play focused, play disciplined and the result will take care of itself."

"I think there were a couple moments where we needed to tell ourselves we're okay and calm down," said Yoxheimer. "Going into tomorrow is just battling hard and keeping control of your sticks and moving your feet."

On Saturday, a little luck went a long way for the Nittany Lions. Two minutes into the game, freshman defenseman Bella Sutton cleared the puck from Penn State's own zone. Lindenwood goaltender Nicole Hensley, who boasts a .947 save percentage in all playoff appearances, was caught off guard by the shot. What should have been a routine save squeaked through five-hole to kick off the night.

It was exactly the start the Lions needed, and they never looked back from there.

"I had no idea it went in," said Sutton. "We saw the fans cheering behind the net, and thought 'wait did that go in?' I was very surprised."

Yoxheimer continued her phenomenal play by notching her second goal of the series. Yoxheimer's play on both ends of the ice has paid big dividends for the squad.

"Huge weekend for Shannon Yoxheimer, on both sides of the ice," said Brandwene. "Excellent shot selection, good decisions with the puck and I'm really proud of her."

"I think it was just for the most part just sticking to the game plan the coaches gave us," said Yoxheimer. "Just really putting a lot of faith in it and also stepping on the ice and playing to win."

Lindenwood was unable to find a groove on offense, finally registering their first shot seven minutes into the game. For the second straight game, the Nittany Lions exhibited great special teams play allowing only one goal out of 11 power play opportunities. From both ends of the ice, it was a total team effort.

"I feel like our special teams has come a long way throughout the season, said Sutton. "Just trusting the game plan and trusting each other to do our jobs. Just throwing it on net and hoping they go in."

The Nittany Lions were finally able to capitalize on a power play opportunity when Bella Sutton's slap shot found the back of the net for her second goal of the game. It was all Penn State needed to put away Lindenwood 3-1, advancing to the CHA Tournament semifinal game for the first time in program history.

"Special teams is a big part of the game and credit to the members of the team who play on the penalty kill and power play," said Brandwene. "They have done just a tremendous job of continually improving their performance all year."

"I'm just so proud of the process, sticking to the game plan and keeping things even keel," said Brandwene. "Just a great, great performance today by this hockey team."

The Nittany Lions will look to continue their run for the CHA title when they play No. 2 Syracuse in Erie on Friday. 

Battle of Pennsylvania Ends with Lions On Top

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10838953.jpegBy Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a hard fought game, the Nittany Lions were able to hold back Penn's relentless offense, earning a much-needed 14-11 victory inside Holuba Hall on Saturday.

Penn State (2-2), once again found itself in an early hole trailing its in-state rival by two goals to start the game. After their early struggles, a strong performance from both the offense and defense kept the game close. The Nittany Lions never trailed by more than two goals. At the start of the fourth period, the Nittany Lion's offense found its stride, and launched into a final offensive flurry to finish off their opponent.

After two tough road losses to Loyola and Villanova, a win was just what the Nittany Lions needed to boost morale and give the team momentum going into their upcoming games over spring break.

"That was much needed," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "You could see the relief on our guys' faces when the game ended. I think the key was that it was such a hard fought game and they had to work for everything. If we didn't come out with this kind of effort today it certainly wasn't going to work out."

Coach Tambroni was pleased with his players' performance, and effort, to control possession, win face-offs, and score goals. Tambroni noted the heart was back in the game for his players.

"I just felt like our guys played with a whole lot more heart today than they have in the last two weeks, I thought it showed on the scoreboard today," said Tambroni.

The Nittany Lions' gained momentum with every goal; kick-started by a rocket shot by sophomore Matt Florence in the first period. Florence would find the back of the net a total of four times against Penn, all of which were unassisted.

"After these past two weeks I think the team's a little stressed out. We really just wanted to come out off to a good start today and just play as a team," said Florence.

During halftime, the crowd welcomed the Royer family to the center of the field to be honored as official members of the Penn State lacrosse family with a rousing standing ovation. Gavin Royer was diagnosed with a brain tumor just ten days after his fifth birthday last March and has since become a symbol of hope and determination for the Nittany Lions. Gavin and his family were matched with Penn State lacrosse through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.

At the start of the second half Penn State led Penn 8-7. The game remained close, with each Penn State goal being answered by the Quakers. The momentum and team unity that fueled the Nittany Lions overflowed as the Penn State sidelines got more vocal toward the end of the second half.

"I just feel like a lot of momentum built up throughout the game," said Florence. "Everyone just wanted to cross the finish line and honestly we were all giving it everything we had until the last whistle."

With a boisterous team on the sidelines cheering fellow teammates on during the final minutes of the game, Penn State opened up a three-goal lead.

While Saturday's win was much needed for the Nittany Lions, the team already has their sights set on the next matchup. The Nittany Lions will go into spring break matchups against Harvard, Marist, and UMass with a heightened level of confidence brought about after their victory over Penn.

"It's great now but I think we're all ready for next week, we're already wanting to compete a little more. I think that this will just help us carry that momentum," said Florence. 

Gutsy Comeback Effort by Lions Comes up Short Against Iowa

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10838898.jpegBy Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was the definition of a gut-check moment for the Penn State men's basketball team.

Despite battling Iowa throughout the second half of Saturday night's game and sending it to overtime, the Nittany Lions found themselves down six just 1:39 into the extra period after a pair of Hawkeye 3-pointers. With the game about to slip away, the Lions showed the same resolve they have all year, scoring six straight points to knot the score at 74-74.

It was a stretch that epitomized the effort that Penn State gave all evening, yet it proved to not be enough, as Iowa outlasted the Lions 81-77 in a heartbreaking loss.

"I feel bad for these kids that played their hearts out today," Chambers said. "And they worked really hard all week. It's unfortunate. When you make 10 threes and you've got four guys in double figures (scoring). We need to win that game. But these kids battled all week and they battled today against a really good basketball team. I'm proud of the way we competed today. We fought and we continued to fight in that overtime."

It was another game in which the Lions absorbed blow after blow from their opponent yet refused to back down. The effort was once again led by D.J. Newbill, who came up big despite the game's outcome.

With Penn State down two with 18 seconds remaining, Newbill drained a pair of huge free throws that sent the game to overtime. With the team then down six, the 6-foot-4 guard followed up a Geno Thorpe basket with two straight buckets of his own to reignite the Bryce Jordan Center crowd.

Although he struggled in the first half with two points on 1-7 shooting, Newbill kept attacking and finished the night with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists.

"When we ran that [play at the end of the second], and D.J. made those two free throws, I felt like we were due, we were ready, we finally got over the hump," Chambers said. "Give Iowa credit, they've been there before and they hit some big shots in that overtime."

Still, Newbill wasn't asked to face Iowa alone, as three of his teammates reached double-digits in points in guard Shep Garner (17), forward Ross Travis (10) and Thorpe (14).

The tandem Garner and Thorpe, who start alongside Newbill in the Lions' small-ball lineup, shined during a 12-3 second half run in which Penn State turned a 61-54 deficit into a 66-64 lead with 3:33 remaining. Thorpe converted a fast-break layup that cut the Hawkeyes' lead to three before his freshman counterpart tied it up with a three-point play less than a minute later.

It was one of a handful of big plays from Garner, who also hit four 3-pointers and went 3-3 from behind his arc in the first half. Less than two weeks after he didn't register a point against Wisconsin, the first year point guard looked back on track, reaching double figures for the first time since Jan. 31 against Illinois.

As disappointed as he was, Chambers was still able to find solace in the gritty play of his young guards, who both will be a huge part of the Penn State backcourt for the next two years.

"They're getting extra shots up, they're working harder and they're definitely playing well together," Chambers said. "If there's any positives, watching those two play...that's our future. You can't fault their effort. They're doing everything they can to help us win games."

Not surprisingly, the player that seemed to exert as much effort as anybody was Travis, who scored his third highest total of the season and like usual, protected the glass like a madman, finishing the game with nine rebounds.

The third-highest rebounder in Penn State history, Travis rarely gets acclaim, but his play as of late has certainly deserved it. The 6-foot-7 forward grabbed four boards on offense alone, including two in the same possession late in the second half with his team down two.

"I thought Ross Travis had one of his best games," Chambers said. "Guys definitely stepped up today. Again, four guys in double figures that's nice. We've got to continue working and start preparing for Ohio State."

2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State vs. Iowa

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to's live, interactive coverage of the 2014-'15 men's basketball season. On Saturday, the Nittany Lions host Iowa in a 6 p.m. tip inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Live Blog 2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State vs. Iowa