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Hockey Valley's Comeback Kids Strike Again

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When a team is down by three goals in a game, it usually finishes on the losing side; however, that is a thought the Penn State men's hockey team refuses to accept. When the Nittany Lions are down, they dig deep and never give up.

This fighting mentality is exactly what led the Lions (12-7-4, 5-2-1-0 B1G) to battle back from three-goal deficits in consecutive games against Northern Michigan (9-9-6, 6-8-4 WCHA). The team emerged victorious on Friday after four straight goals and forced a 5-5 tie on Saturday.

A Casey Bailey tally late in the second period sparked Friday night's comeback. Entering the third, the Lions were only down by two, and they were ready to score.

Just over three minutes into the start of the period, forward Dylan Richard brought the Nittany Lions within one when he scored a short-handed goal. With two more goals by David Glen and Scott Conway in the final seven minutes of the game, the Blue and White were able to roar back and take down the Wildcats, 5-4.

"That's playing with fire," said Richard of playing from behind. "That's really something we cannot keep doing because as the season goes on, we might not be able to keep that up. We really need to get away from that and not take any shifts, periods off and play a whole game."

Even with the team desperate to get away from playing from behind, the Lions found themselves in a hole once again Saturday afternoon. For the second day in a row, the team was down, 4-1, but this time head coach Guy Gadowsky was not upset with the efforts.

A few bad bounces in the first left the Lions trailing by three. They pulled within two, bringing the score to 3-1, but gave up a goal to widen the margin to three once more.

"I thought we were still playing very, very, very well, and I think the guys knew that," said Gadowsky. "They just sort of had faith that if they kept playing the way they played that we had a chance to score goals, and they did. I feel good about this game."

Again, the Lions rallied and used the atmosphere inside Pegula Ice Arena to their advantage.

Leading the way for Penn State was Eric Scheid. The forward, who played a phenomenal game on Friday night, was once again on fire. A pair of goals, one of which was short handed, helped inch his team closer to a win, and his final point of the night, an assist on Richard's tying goal, completed the second comeback in as many days.

"Right now, he's playing at a different speed than everybody else," Gadowsky said of Scheid. "I mean, he just, I don't know how. Honestly, it's like he just plays at a different level right now, and his speed is phenomenal. He's, boy, he's something to watch. When he's skating like he's skating now, he's incredibly dangerous."

A physical third period was not enough to declare a winner, so the two teams battled in overtime. Following the extra five minutes, the Lions and Wildcats remained tied at 5 goals each. The teams participated in an exhibition shootout, in which the Blue and White fell to Northern Michigan, 3-2.

Musico Magic

In both games, goaltender PJ Musico was called off the bench to relieve his teammates, and in both games, Musico put on a dazzling performance.

"He kept us in there," said Gadowsky of the goaltender. "He gave us a spurt, like he gave us a bit of a kick in the pants and made a huge save right out of the gate and then a few huge ones later. I mean, I just give that guy a lot of credit. He's a great athlete, I think that's really his biggest attribute but he loves mental challenges and boy, we needed him tonight. He was exceptional."

Musico, who has only played in four games this season, grabbed his first win of the year on Friday. He stopped all 11 shots he faced and carried that momentum into his performance on Saturday.

In his second appearance of the weekend, Musico saved 19 of 21 shots and even registered an interference penalty. The goalie's name was all over the box score, and his efforts truly made all the difference.

"A lot of people say it's tough, but I try not to really focus too much on that," said Musico of being called off the bench. "I just kind of go out and play and have fun. Having fun is something that I've always really stressed with myself."

Known for his humor and personality, Musico brings much more to this Penn State squad than solid goaltending. His positive attitude is something the team and Gadowsky do not take for granted. He is someone that makes everyone on the team better.

"You have a real soft place for him, and he has taken a very interesting road," Gadowsky said. "He loves Penn State. He just loves this university so much, and he wants to give so much. The culture of the team and the environment of the team is just so important, and he's a guy that is in a tough position and he makes it fun. He's got a great attitude, and he comes in and is able to perform under the hardest of circumstances."

Start Toward Overcoming Shootout Struggles

For the fourth time this season, the Lions participated in a shootout. Although the team once again fell to its opponent, it is clear that Penn State is making strides in this area of the game.

Both Scheid and defenseman Peter Sweetland scored to keep the Lions alive. The shootout went to four rounds, which is the best performance the team has had this season.

"I haven't been doing too well picking guys, as you've probably noticed," Gadowsky said. "So, Skoffer [Matthew Skoff] and Eamon [McAdam] picked the shooters, and they did a whole lot better than I did. They're the ones that get shot on every day."

Looking Ahead - Philly Bound

Next up for the Lions is a game at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers. This will be the third consecutive year the Lions will take on Vermont in the College Hockey Faceoff.

The game is set to begin Saturday at 1 p.m.

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Josh Brandwene often refers to his team as "road warriors." This moniker was proven right this weekend as Penn State (13-10-3, 7-4-1 CHA) split with New Hampshire (7-17-1, 4-9-0 Hockey East) in Durham, N.H. After dropping Friday's contest, 2-0, the Nittany Lions rebounded on Saturday to top the Wildcats, 3-1.

"Our process was really good all weekend long," said Brandwene. "I loved the effort on Friday. We generated a ton of scoring chances, and we stuck to the game plan on Saturday. We kept our feet moving, and in well-deserved fashion got rewarded for it."

Offensive balance was on full display, especially on Saturday, as the line of Sarah Nielsen, Hannah Bramm and Caitlin Reilly each tallied two points to lead the Nittany Lions.

"We've been getting great effort at both ends of the ice from all of our forward lines, and it was great to see Hannah, Caitlin and Sarah get rewarded for their efforts this weekend," said Brandwene. "I'm really proud of them."

After Friday night's loss, Penn State returned to the rink hungry on Saturday, scoring three goals en route to victory.

"I'm really pleased with how all three of our goals turned out," said Brandwene.

Nielsen scored at the 8:44 mark in the first period to push the Blue and White out to an early one-goal lead. Reilly and Bramm each assisted on the score.

"On the first goal, Caitlin Reilly moving her feet and just putting on all sorts of pressure with her foot speed and great finish from Sarah Nielsen," said Brandwene.

After Hannah Armstrong scored for New Hampshire to tie the game at one 10:48 into the second frame, Emily Laurenzi netted her first goal of the season on an apple from Shannon Yoxheimer with 2:44 left in the second to give Penn State the lead, 2-1.

"I loved seeing Em Laurenzi shoot the puck on the second goal," said Brandwene.

Then, with three minutes into the final period, Reilly and Nielsen's passing set up Bramm's score, giving the Nittany Lions a two-goal advantage.

"Just a gritty effort in front by Hannah Bramm on the third one," said Brandwene. "I was really pleased. It was a total team effort this weekend."

Play between the pipes this weekend was solid. While Hannah Ehresmann made 32 stops in Friday's loss, Celine Whitlinger earned her ninth win of the season by kicking away 32 shots on Saturday.

"I'm so proud of both Hannah and Celine with their preparation and their poise over the course of the entire weekend," said Brandwene. "They did a great job."

One area that stood out for Penn State against New Hampshire was the solid blue-line play by the defensive unit.

"It was another great effort from our D-core," said Brandwene. "Just fabulous gap control. Really poised in so many situations. They did a fabulous job, as well."

This weekend presented Penn State's final non-conference games of the season. With its final eight games all against conference opponents, the Nittany Lions intend to finish the regular season and enter the postseason strong.

"Keep working hard," said Brandwene. "Keep growing. One practice at a time. One shift at a time".

McIntosh Beats Top-Ranked Schiller in Matchup Against Gophers

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10722754.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was an opportunity that Morgan McIntosh had been waiting for all week.

The Penn State 197-pounder entered Sunday's dual against No. 2 Minnesota facing one of the biggest challenges of his career, a matchup with the top-ranked wrestler at his weight, Scott Schiller.

He may not have been favored to win, but none of that mattered once the bout began.

In a bout featuring two All-Americans, McIntosh produced perhaps his biggest win yet, taking Schiller down three times in a 7-4 victory that improved the sixth-ranked wrestler to 9-1 in dual meets and highlighted the Nittany Lions close 17-16 loss.

"I think getting my shots, I was in on a lot of shots, and I just need to keep figuring out a way to finish those," McIntosh said. "Schiller's a big, strong guy, he's got strong hips but there's things I could have done a lot differently to finish those shots."

McIntosh wasted little time establishing the tempo of the match, aggressively shooting at Schiller throughout the first period to jump out to a 4-2 lead before adding another takedown in the third to secure the victory. Still, his attitude after the match said a lot about the junior's character.

Although he had just achieved a signature win, one that every other wrestler in his weight class would have been proud of, McIntosh instead chose to focus on the aspects he stills wants to improve as well as his team.

"If I could have [finished more takedowns], maybe I could have scored more points and gotten the bonus points for the team," McIntosh said. "Just got to learn from it and do things differently next time."

That team-first mindset is one of the reasons that McIntosh is one of the team's two captains despite being a junior. Regardless of the outcome of the team match, it was a terrific moment for the Santa Ana, California, native, seeing as Schiller finished third at the NCAA Tournament last season and had yet to lose a dual meet all season.

While McIntosh didn't gloat about his victory, his fellow captain senior Matt Brown heaped plenty of praise on him.

"I thought it was pretty impressive how many times he was able to get in on a leg," Brown said. "He's going to finish more of those in the future but he controlled the whole match, I was very impressed. I looked and saw the kid he was wrestling was ranked [No. 1] I thought, 'well maybe Morgan should be first, look how good he's wrestling.'

"I think it just proves to him he is the best in the country. I mean, I wrestle with him and I can't stop what he does. So I'm like, 'what the heck, how is anyone else going to beat him.'"

Two matches earlier, Brown has an impressive win himself in another highly anticipated bout at the 174-pound weight, beating third ranked Logan Storley 4-1.

In the eighth career meeting between the two multi-time All-Americans, both grapplers were active from the start. However, it was Brown who broke the 0-0 tie in the second period with a quick escape and takedown that proved to be the difference.

The win gives Brown, who dropped a 3-1 overtime decision to Storley in last year's NCAA Tournament, further confidence that he can beat the Gopher again if they meat in March. He is now 5-3 all-time against the Minnesota 174-pounder.

"You want like a grade, like probably a B maybe," Brown said. "Some positive things, I was able to scramble, I've been working with coach [Casey] Cunningham on that. Didn't have a productive third period so that's something I can work on and score more points."

In the final bout of the day, Penn State 125-pounder Jordan Conaway needed to pin Ethan Lizak to give the Lions a victory and just missed out on the fall, settling instead for a 13-3 major that left the Lions one point away from a tie.

While it was a tough way to lose, it proved Penn State is only a move or two away from being able to beat the second-ranked team in the country in a dual setting.

Minnesota entered the afternoon with eight ranked wrestlers, including five ranked in the top five and three at No. 1, yet Penn State won five of the match's 10 bouts and four of the five after halftime. Though disappointed, the Blue and White remain confident they can compete with anyone when the postseason comes around.

"Again, it's just those close matches, we've got to win those," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "We had a chance to win a couple of those obviously and we gave up two majors, which ended up being the difference. They've got some pretty good guys too."

Russell and Family Make Noise in Opening Home Weekend

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10722812.jpegBy Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After four straight road matches to begin the 2015 campaign, the Penn State men's volleyball team (0-6) returned to Rec Hall this past weekend to open up a five-match homestand.

Despite dropping Friday night's match to defending national champion and No. 1 Loyola (5-0) in four sets (26-28, 26-24, 23-25, 21-25), as well as Saturday evening's contest to No. 2 Lewis (6-1) in four frames (18-25, 25-18, 22-25, 20-25), senior Aaron Russell and his family positively impacted the home opening weekend.


Russell produced standout performances in both matches, tallying 14 kills in the close contest against Loyola. Then, the senior outside hitter tallied a match-high 23 kills in the competitive bout against Lewis.

He wasn't the only Russell in attendance, however. In fact, his older brother, Peter, who was the lone graduate from last year's team, as well as the rest of his family, was in attendance to cheer on Aaron and the squad.


"It was great," said Russell when asked about having his family in the stands. "Earlier this week I was texting with Peter, and he was trying to encourage me about the matches this upcoming weekend facing number one and two in our gym. He told me that 'You guys don't lose in your gym. You guys should have all the confidence in the world. You have nothing to lose.' I thought it was pretty cool to hear him say that and see him up here supporting me."

For Russell, this is not the way he envisioned the season to start, but he sees growth from his teammates each and every day.

"It's tough," said Russell. "That's something that we've been talking about every single day, every single week. We just continue to work hard to try and get that first win. I know it's frustrating to hear myself say that, but I think that we continue to get better. I think that was a different team on the court than we were last week."

Russell's parents Stewart and Marian are his two biggest fans. So much so that Stewart was the cheerleader in the stands, initiating the "We Are" chant time and time again to fire up the crowd.

According to Aaron, this comes as no surprise.


"After every match he always comes up to me and - he's been my coach since day one - so he'll always come on to the court after and just encourage me and give me some pointers," said Russell about his father. "A lot of it right now is about leadership. I'm trying to learn a lot from him."

Russell family aside, the biggest takeaway from this weekend is that Penn State's record is not reflective of the team's talent and ability. Five of its six opponents thus far are ranked nationally.

A challenging regular season slate prepares the team for postseason play. As head coach Mark Pavlik always says, "No team has ever won a championship in January."

In addition to Russell, outside hitters Nick Goodell and Spencer Sauter, as well as middle hitter Matt Callaway all displayed strong play on the court. In the two matches, Goodell totaled 36 kills, Sauter netted 18 kills and Callaway generated 19 kills. Setter Taylor Hammond added 99 assists over the two games.

"I like this team," said Pavlik. "We're not where we want to be. They haven't blown apart. There's no finger pointing. We're in this together. It's going to get better. The challenge in front of this team is to say, 'How good can you get over the course of the rest of the year?' My money is on them."

Nittany Lions Say Goodbye to Seniors and Topple Naval Academy

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10722687.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fifteen seniors wrapped up their last meet in McCoy Natatorium with a win on Saturday against Navy. Seniors and families gathered on deck prior to the start of the meet where they passed through a tunnel of teammates and received a letterman's blanket as a sign of recognition for their four years of commitment.

Saturday's victory moved the women to 12-1 for the season, and they are currently ranked 17th in the nation. For the men, the win over Navy moved them to a 6-3 record.


Like any Division I sport, swimming requires an enormous amount of discipline and commitment. Each week consists of multiple two-a-day workouts in addition to time spent in the weight room. But the senior class' resilience and dedication throughout the past four years has not gone unnoticed.

"I appreciate their efforts and I appreciate their commitment," head coach Tim Murphy explained. "It's easy to stop doing this, this requires a lot of time, this is a long season. They have kept going and they have stayed with it. That in of itself, I admire and I respect."

In addition to commitment, another key component of the team is communication and working together. The Nittany Lions are a tight-knit group; the men's and women's team practice together every day and consider themselves a family. For senior Jonathan Ekstrom, one of the biggest takeaways he has from his time as Nittany Lion is the camaraderie amongst the team.

"There's a sense of teamwork you get," he said. "You're working with all different kinds of people to accomplish something like competing on a Big Ten squad means a lot not only on a personal level but in the professional level as well from what you learn from the experience."

While Saturday's meet was the final time seniors will race in McCoy Natatorium, the Nittany Lions' season is far from over.

Penn State will travel to two invitational meets in the upcoming weeks, one at Bucknell University and another at Virginia Tech.

"The seniors still have a month, some of them two months, to leave their mark." Murphy said. "I told them on training trip that every time they walk on the deck this is their opportunity to leave behind something that others can build on. I think they're in the process of doing that."

Despite the upcoming invitational meets, the Nittany Lions will spend the next month preparing for the Big Ten Championships. The women will travel to Ohio State University the week of February 18th and the men will venture to the University of Iowa the week of February 25th.

Last year the women finished third in the Big Ten while the men wrapped up their season with a fifth place finish.

Following the Big Ten Championships, those who qualify will compete at the NCAA Championships in March. 

Nittany Lion Freshmen 'Stick It' In Double Dual

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10722673.jpegBy Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - From the solid landings to the explosive execution, the Nittany Lion women's gymnastics freshman class delivered a stellar performance in Saturday's meet against Big Ten newcomer, Maryland. In the 196.55-194.45 win over the Terrapins, freshmen Briannah Tsang, Oni Timothy and Lauren Li put up big numbers in their respective events, shattering personal best records and setting new team records in the process.

"That was beautiful, wasn't it?" head coach Jeff Thompson said. "We have been waiting years for this class to finally get here. They are starting to figure it out."

So far this season, these gymnasts have been explosive, electric and surprising, constantly proving their worth and solidifying their spots in the Nittany Lions' rotations.

Li Delivers on Vault
The Plano, Texas, native was a solid opener for Penn State on vault; she opened the meet with a 9.875. It is never easy for anyone to open a meet or an event, but that pressure is even more daunting for a rookie. Li rose to the occasion and delivered an impressive performance. Not only did the freshman win the event and set a personal best, she set a new team record.

Li delivered on floor as well, tying three other Nittany Lions for fourth with a 9.80 finish, tying her personal best. The freshman led the team with the opening performance on beam, but came up just shy in her bid to stick a landing.

"Beam is one of the hardest events," Thompson said. "It is just as much mental as it is physical. Unfortunately, Lauren [Li] hasn't been able to do what we see her do in practice in the meets. She is solid on beam, but when she is out in front of the crowd she focuses more on not falling than performing. I talked to her right after she finished the routine and I asked her, 'Why do you thing we have you first?' We have more confidence in her than anyone else."

Timothy Shines On Floor
With every press off the mat and ever leap into the air, Timothy is explosive. There is so much power in her performance that you expect her to stick every landing. The New York native switched up her vault routine, landing an impressive turn for a rookie, earning her a 9.80, a personal best.

"We upgraded her vault this week," Thompson said. "She went from a full to a one and a half. She has been able to perform this fault before, but she has struggled with consistency. Today she nailed it and I think people saw just how confident Oni [Timothy] could be today. She was the second vault of the meet and she was able to stick such an impressive turn; I don't think the judges knew how to react to it."

Her floor routine was impressive, too. She stuck a double layout in her first pass of the routine, followed by two other combinations that were just as impressive, finishing with a personal best and fourth overall, while matching the team record.

"She did a really nice job on floor," Thompson said. "She even made a flub in her second pass but you wouldn't know it because of her confidence."

Tsang Is Pure Magic
There really are no words to describe this young gymnast. Her performance is effortless and truly beautiful. Tsang has been a firecracker in the all-around competition, shattering personal bests and team records with every tumble and leap.

Saturday's performance was special. Not only did she win the all-around title, she won floor and beam with near perfect scores. Tsang opened her floor routine with a complex pass combination that involved so many rotations you weren't sure how she could stay in the air that long. She finished with a 9.875, setting a team-high and new personal best.

"When you put her [Tsang] in the lineup on events that she is comfortable with, it is as easy and effortless as flicking a switch," Thompson said.

Her beam routine was one for the record books, too. Finishing with a stellar 9.950, the freshman set a new team high and personal best. Her all-around performance contributed to her 39.500 finish on the day, clinching the all-around title.

"Briannah [Tsang] is a different kind of gymnast," Thompson said. "She isn't your typical freshman. Before coming to us, she competed internationally for her country [Canada] and she has a gold medal from the World Cup. Gymnastics is something that comes to her. I don't know if there is anyone else in college who has a gold medal from the World Cup. It is truly magical to watch."

Lady Lions Balanced Attack Makes It Two Straight

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the second time in four days, the Penn State Lady Lions closed out a close Big Ten contest and turned victorious on their home floor. Head coach Coquese Washington said after Sunday's 76-75 over Northwestern that just a few weeks ago, her team would not have been ready for such a task.

Now after following the process and progressing every day, her team is now able to close out tight games and get in better positions to win.

"Earlier in the season we weren't able to close these games out," Washington said. "We didn't have the necessary confidence, the necessary chemistry and cohesiveness to do it. Now I think we're at a point in the season where we kind of know what we need to do to close teams out."

Sunday they had that confidence, even when it looked like the Wildcats had a chance to win. In the final moments of the game, Northwestern had the ball down by one point with 8.4 seconds left and Washington's team found a way to make a stop.

"We've come a long way," guard Sierra Moore said. "At the beginning of the season, we had a lot of really close games and we were just short every time. Now, you can tell that we have grown so much and are playing basketball like we knew we could all along.

The reason why we are closing out game and the reason why we won the game today, is because of how much we have grown and how much more mature we are now."

Just like Thursday's win over Indiana, Penn State had five players in double figures and posed a balanced scoring attack. Moore, Alex Harris, Peyton Whitted, Kaliyah Mitchell and Candice Agee had 18, 11, 11, 10 and 10 respectively leading to the win.

For Moore, who has had 15 points or more in the last three games, having multiple scorers makes establishing an offensive rhythm much easier.

"It is so much easier to do what we want to do when everybody is incorporated in the offense," Moore said. "It really helps to take stress off of each individual and we can just play our game. We can relax a little bit because we know everybody is clicking, so whoever gets the ball on that second or third pass, they have the ability to score and we have confidence that they are going to make it."

Harris was an added piece to the Lady Lion scoring attack Sunday, garnering her first career double-double and setting a new career high with 11 points. Harris added to the Lady Lion post play both on defense and offense with very efficient play.

It was a performance she has been waiting for all season long.

"It felt really good," Harris said of her career day. "I wanted to go out there and just do anything I could to help the team win. I relied on my teammates to set up the offense and get me opportunities to score. I just wanted to do everything I could out there [to help us win.]"

Her 10 rebounds, including a rebound of Northwestern's game winning shot attempt, helped seal the inside for Penn State, who out rebounded the wildcats 49 to 32. From the rebounding advantage, the Lady Lions were able to do what they love to do the most: run in transition.

Penn State had 46 points in the paint, 13 second chance points and 17 off the fast break. Washington believes these numbers cause the balanced scoring attack that occurred the last two games.

"A lot of it stems from the offensive production, stems from us being a lot more aggressive and a lot more assertive, in particular in transition but also in rebounding," said Washington. "We're doing a good job crashing the offensive glass and giving ourselves second and third opportunities."

Penn State will be back in action at Minnesota Wednesday at 8 p.m.

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match vs. Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 10th-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) won five matches in a tightly-contested dual match against No. 2 Minnesota (10-0, 6-0) inside a packed Rec Hall on Sunday afternoon. But a pair of bonus points for the Gophers proved to be the difference in a 17-16 decision.

After junior Morgan McIntosh knocked off No. 1 Scott Schiller, heavyweight Jimmy Lawson notched a victory to set the score at 17-12 heading into the final bout of the afternoon. Jordan Conaway scored a 13-3 major decision and nearly pinned Minnesota's Ethan Lizak in the final match, but the Lions fell just shy on the final scoreboard. See some highlights and hear from Matt Brown, McIntosh and head coach Cael Sanderson following the match.


LIVE BLOG: Lady Lions host Northwestern

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the Penn State women's basketball Big Ten contest vs. Northwestern on Sunday, January 25 inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use #PennState or #LadyLions and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage. 

Live Blog Live Blog: Lady Lions vs. Northwestern
 

Nittany Lions Use Hot-Shooting to Roll Past Rutgers

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10719879.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- After knocking on the Big Ten door the past six games, the Penn State men's basketball team emphatically kicked it down Saturday afternoon against Rutgers.

Looking for their first conference victory, the Nittany Lions were sharp in every aspect, beating the Scarlet Knights 79-51 for their largest margin of victory in a home Big Ten game since 1998 to get in the win column in the Big Ten.

From shooting percentage to rebounding to turnover margin, Penn State outclassed Rutgers in nearly every statistical category. More importantly though, the Lions kept their energy up for the entire 40 minutes in a contest in which they led for the final 29:41.

"I think that we played together, we played smart, we played physical, we played Penn State basketball for 40 minutes which we hadn't done all year until today," senior guard D.J. Newbill said. "It's growth, a lot of times we get leads and we let teams come back. Now we have to learn how to finish them, keep the pedal to the metal and keep playing hard."

After falling behind 6-0 three minutes in, Penn State started to heat up, scoring 12 points in a span of 2:47 off of four 3-pointers. It was a sign of things to come for the Nittany Lions.

For the rest of the game, the Lions' shooting stroke simply never wore off, as they hit 51 percent of shots from the field and a remarkable 50 percent from behind the arc. Overall, it was the team's third highest shooting performance of the year from the field and second highest from three.

Making it more impressive was the fact that nine players tallied points with six of them (Newbill, Payton Banks, Shep Garner, Donovon Jack, Brandon Taylor and Geno Thorpe) hitting at least one 3-pointer.  The Lions finished the afternoon with three players, Newbill (23), Taylor (16) and Garner (13), scoring in double figures.

"A lot of guys have been putting in extra work, working on their shot, getting extra reps individually and as a team," Newbill, said. "I think today we came out really confident, we were getting some good looks and we were taking them with confidence, just sticking it."

The Lions attempted 20 3-pointers (10-20) on the afternoon, their ninth game of the season taking at least 20 triples. Although they entered the game shooting 31 percent from that distance, head coach Patrick Chambers encouraged his players to keep shooting.

Having watched his team shoot 54 percent from the field on the road against the Big Ten's top team in Wisconsin, Chambers knew his players had it in them. All that they needed was to remain confident.

"Look, your offense always looks good when the ball is going in the basket," Chambers said. "It just went in a little more often today then the past few games. I hear the criticism, 'you can't take those deep threes, why you shooting so many threes.' It's the only way we're going to be successful. If I'm going to pull these kids back, I don't think it's fair to them and they're not going to play with the upmost confidence."

At the same time, the way the Lions shot the ball wasn't the only notable thing about their performance. Defensively, they were on point all afternoon, holding Rutgers to 51 points and just 23 after halftime, while forcing 16 turnovers that led to 21 of their points.

After coming up just short the previous five games (losing each of them by fewer than 10 points), Penn State made it clear it wasn't going to let this one slip away. Going into the break up 41-28, the Lions started the second half on fire, going on an 11-2 run in just 1:52 that seemed to take the life out of the Scarlet Knights.

"I wanted to win the second half," Chambers said. "I didn't tell them it like that, it was more, 'win the next possession,' and we put enough possessions together to win."

It's been a tough first month of conference play for Penn State, with a lot of close loses and near misses. Though Chambers and his squad are certainly going to enjoy this victory, they know there is still plenty of work to be done.

With 11 conference games remaining, including a matchup against Minnesota this Wednesday at home, the Lions will look to continue to establish momentum as each game becomes more critical.

"For us mentally, it just shows us, we can do this, we can be successful," Chambers said. "And we've got to continue to work on the little things, we're starting to shoot the ball a lot better.  It was about stops and rebounding, and I think we got back to our foundation."