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LIVE BLOG: Lady Lions Host Albany

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the Penn State women's basketball preseason WNIT second round contest against Albany on Sunday, November 16 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 Lady Lions Host Albany
 

Nittany Lions Start NCAA Tournament With Strong Outing

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10540072.jpegBy Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's soccer team (18-3-0) used a big second half to power past Buffalo, 4-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Jeffrey Field on Friday.

With midfielder Raquel Rodriguez leading the charge, Penn State showed its determination to make the most of out of the opportunity presented by the NCAA Tournament.

Using the "one game at a time" mentality, head coach Erica Walsh prepared the team not only physically for the postseason tournament but mentally, as well.

"We always try and keep the end goal in mind when training. When it comes to the NCAA we can only prepare for the game in front of us and give it everything we have," Walsh said.

Starting the game off with a goal by Mallory Weber on an assist from Rodriguez in the 15th minute, the Lions ended the first half with a 1-0 lead over Buffalo. Despite the one-goal advantage, the Lions were motivated to extend the lead in the second half.

"Coach gave us a good halftime speech, which got us fired up. We wanted to play for our seniors and we knew one goal wasn't going to be enough," said Weber.

The Lions answered the bell in a big way in the second half.

Within a span two minutes early in the second half, Penn State scored twice against the Bulls with tallies by Rodriguez in the 51st minute and then freshman Megan Schafer with assistance by Salina Williford during the 52nd.

Recently retuning from her international play with the Costa Rican women's national team, Rodriguez returned better than ever.

"I'm just really happy to be back with playing with Penn State. I view this program as more of a family than a team and that makes a huge difference while playing the game," said Rodriguez.

Buffalo scored off a penalty kick by Katie Roberts in the 81st minute, but the Lions finished strong.

Mallory Peterson scored in 86th minute with assist by Anna Witte and Haleigh Echard for Lions' fourth goal of the night.

"The team's energy and excitement was fantastic today, as a coach I couldn't be prouder," said coach Walsh. "I thought the team's tempo was incredible tonight, it was clear that they wanted this win."

In its first visit to the NCAA Tournament, Buffalo walked off the field impressed by Penn State's tactical and technical game.


"Tons of credit to Penn State, they were just too much for us to handle and showed they are a team that can go far in this tournament. No. 11, is a handful and she was on fire tonight," said Buffalo head coach Shawn Burke.

After showing their ability to bounce back from a tough loss, the Nittany Lions are eager for their next match.

The Nittany Lions move on to face Connecticut at Jeffrey Field on Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Penn State is eager to move into prep mode for the second match in the postseason.

"I think the best thing is that although we looked a lot better than last week there is still room for improvement. This group of players always amaze me with their consistent improvement. As a team I think we have avoided plateauing which says a lot about this program," said Walsh.

Pryor Finishing His Mission

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10540037.jpegMilitary Appreciation Day Special Feature
By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For most people, life doesn't follow a normal path or proceed according to a pre-determined plan.

Things often transpire in a manner that can test the mettle of a person and his or her ability to handle adversity. It's when things do not go according plan that you learn a lot about an individual's attitude, character and outlook on life.

Senior defensive back Devin Pryor is in his final few weeks as a playing member of the Penn State Football program, an opportunity he has not taken for granted when he earned a second chance to finish what he had started back in 2010.

But, before you can appreciate the meaning of Pryor's senior season as a Nittany Lion, you need to understand how he got to the position that he is in.

Born on Norton Air Force Base near San Bernardino, California, Pryor's childhood is unique to most student-athletes. His parents - Mary Hartley and Maurice Pryor - were both members of the United States Air Force during Pryor's childhood.

The Pryor family's residences included Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs while Devin was a child. When his mother was stationed in Alconbury, England, Pryor was just 10-years old.

A fifth-grader at the time, Pryor spent much of his childhood getting to know a group of friends before moving to another location.

"It really helped with my social skills," Pryor said. "When you are moving that much as a kid, you have to be out-going to meet new friends. You are going to make good friends, but you are going to be distanced from them when you move. So it helped me be outgoing and social."

By no means was it easy on him, but Pryor learned to adapt to change, and in the long run, he thinks it helped him grow.

"The process really taught me how to take care of myself and my young sister at the time," Pryor said.

Pryor, who has two younger sisters, Destiny and Sienna, spent the next seven years of his life in the small school system of Alconbury. With only 300 students in the high school, Pryor never had any intentions of playing a sport in college. Sure, he was encouraged to pursue a football career at a college in the United States by his coach in Alconbury, but it was off of Pryor's radar.

He was accepted into the Air Force Academy, Texas A&M and Penn State after applying to schools as he worked towards becoming an engineer. With extended family in mind, Pryor made the decision to attend Penn State.

"It was a unique choice to come here," Pryor said. "My dad has always been a Penn State fan. He's from Philadelphia. My mom is from Long Island."

The family component made the choice to become a Penn State student easier, but he walked on to the campus of more than 40,000 students on the first time ever on the day he arrived for school. Having attended a high school with 300 students, Pryor's first few weeks on campus were an adjustment to say the least.

"The academics at Penn State really stood out to me," said Pryor. "At the time, I had wanted to be an engineer. Penn State has one of the top engineering programs. I early enrolled to do a summer engineering program."

Like most Penn State freshmen, Pryor made a point to order season tickets to the home football games in Beaver Stadium prior to the 2010 season. He attended three games as a fan before making a decision to try out for the team in late September.

"My coaches in England always felt like I could play, but I had self doubt because I had never played in the States and had no idea what the competition was like," Pryor said.

Pryor successfully attracted the attention of the coaching staff, and he was one of four players the group called back.

"The next thing I know, I'm on the team," Pryor said. "Here I am standing next to Evan Royster and the rest of these guys who I had just been watching play from the stands. It was so surreal."

But things took a different path for Pryor during the latter stages of 2010.

"I wasn't nearly as serious about (playing) during my freshman year, so I was released," Pryor said.

Back to normal life as a college student in 2011, Pryor's career on the gridiron was not over quite yet.

During former head coach Bill O'Brien's first season in 2012, the coaching staff added Pryor back to the roster. With a second chance, Pryor was not going to be denied the opportunity to contribute to the team.

"It means a lot to not only me, but to be able to show the kids back in the tiny town in England that no dream is too big and no obstacle is too large," said Pryor.

During his second stint with the football program, Pryor knew how much the opportunity meant in the grand scheme of his journey.

"Coming out of such a small school, a lot of us over there just hoped to go to college, but the exposure is not nearly the same in terms of athletics," Pryor said. "This process made me realize that when you are put in a tough position, you can make the most of it with a good attitude. Walking on here, I've definitely had my struggles and my positives."

Without question, the highpoint of his college career came in August of 2013, just one week into training camp. As dependent of a service member, Pryor utilized the GI Bill for a portion of college. But the funds from the GI Bill had just run out. He called his mother to inform her of the news. From there the two needed to set up a loan to cover the expenses of his final two years as a college student.

But things took a different path just two days after the loan had been processed.

Pryor received a phone call that Coach O'Brien needed to see him in his office.

"I never thought was going to be a good thing," Pryor joked.

O'Brien told Pryor that he and the coaching staff felt as though Pryor deserved a scholarship for the 2013 season because of his efforts and dedication to the football program. After walking out of the office, he immediately called his mom to tell her to cancel the loan. Thinking the worst, Pryor's mom thought he had been released again from the team.

But, the exciting news Pryor revealed brought his mom to tears.

Pryor graduated this past August with a degree in energy business and finance, and he is now working towards a second degree, in economics. Walking across the stage with pride, he became a first generation Pryor to earn a college degree.

"It's so humbling to have that degree," he said.

When his time at Penn State is complete, Pryor would like to pursue a career in the financial field of the automobile industry. He has also looked at the military, a profession near and dear to his heart.

"We really don't give the troops enough credit for what they do, so this Military Appreciation Day game is a great opportunity for us to show what they mean to us," Pryor said. "Just like in football, there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes with the troops that they don't get credit for."

The military appreciation recognition today holds a special meaning to Pryor.

"Just seeing how hard my mom worked every day, and it often went unrecognized," said Pryor. "Any chance we get to say thank you is huge. It may not seem like a lot to the Penn State fans, but the men and women really appreciate it. My mom certainly does."

Pryor's journey to Happy Valley spanned the globe, but his hard work and commitment to the football program earned the right to become a scholarship player. His background is far from a normal path to the highest level of college athletics, but Pryor's drive never wavered.

"You just have to make the most of the hand you are dealt," Pryor said.

Perseverance guided Pryor to the position he is in today, and his time at Penn State will stick with him forever.

"I'm just going to remember the sense of family that is within Penn State and this football program," Pryor said. "And it never mattered how productive you were on the game field. The fans and supporters were there no matter what. The support you feel rivals your own family to be honest with you."

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - Temple

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VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame Interview

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head into the winning locker room to hear from several Nittany Lions following Saturday's 30-13 victory over Temple.





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VIDEO: Postgame Interview with Coach Franklin - Temple

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VIDEO: Post-game Player Interviews vs. Temple

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin talks with GoPSUsports.com following Saturday's 30-13 victory over Temple in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions are 6-4 heading into the penultimate regular season game on the schedule at Illinois next week.






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2014 Photo Blog - Penn State vs. Temple

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's final non-conference game of the season against Temple.

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2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Temple

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. The Nittany Lions wrap up the non-conference slate with a matchup against in-state foe Temple.



Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Temple
 



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Newbill and Garner Show Cohesion in Lions' Opening Season Victory

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10534939.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Entering the 2014-'15 season, there was little doubt about the type of production D.J. Newbill would give the Penn State men's basketball team.

A year after leading the team in scoring and being named second team All-Big Ten, Newbill was fully expected to lead the Nittany Lions' offense. The question was, who would complement him in the team's backcourt?

After one game, the Lions may have found the answer in true freshman Shep Garner. Against Morgan State, the 6-foot-1 guard looked mature beyond his years in a 61-48 Penn State victory.

"He is fearless," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "I'm proud of the way he competed. We obviously needed his production tonight."

In the first game of his college career, Garner not only started, he also finished second on the team with 14 points while shooting an impressive 67 percent (6-for-9 shooting) from the field.

More importantly, he jelled extremely well with the senior Newbill, as the guard duo combined for more than half of the team's points (31 of 61) and were the only Nittany Lions to make more than one 3-pointer.

Newbill, who led the tem in scoring with 17 points and added seven rebounds and three assists for good measure, praised the freshman for his assertiveness on the court.

"I told him before the game, 'you earned the right to start, so take advantage of this opportunity,'" Newbill said. "I thought he played great and he played with confidence. There's not much more to say about that."

For a player less than a year removed from high school, Garner seemed extremely relaxed about stepping into a starting role.

Although he missed his first two shots and didn't score his first basket until the 8:13 mark of the first half, the Chester, Pennsylvania, native settled down as the game went along, only missing once more the rest of the way.

"I was excited, you know, first college game was like a dream come true," Garner said. "I just couldn't wait to get on the floor with my brothers and play with them."

During a game in which the Lions struggled to shoot early on, the strong performances of both guards was greatly needed.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Lions trailed the Bears 16-9 and had converted just three field goals in 11:47 of playing time. In a 43 second span, Garner got on the score sheet with a nifty layup and Newbill drained a 3-pointer to narrow the deficit to 16-14.

From that point on, Penn State gained control, going on a 13 to two scoring run that led to a 31-25 halftime lead.

"It was the first game, and I feel we were just super excited," Newbill said. "We were just excited to be out there playing another team and we kind of just had to relax. It's just something we gotta work on."

In the second half, the pair stayed hot, combining for the team's first seven points of the period in a four-minute span as the Lions began to pull away.

Garner, who would finish 4-for-4 on the night on 2-point shots, hit a pair of 3-pointers and combined with Newbill to shoot 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Afterwards, the first-year player praised the senior captain for his help in preparing him for a starting role.

"I learn so much from him," Garner said. "From when I first got here, I just picked his brain all day long. I probably get annoying sometimes. He played point guard here for a whole year so I ask him every question I can to get as much information as possible."

As the year progresses, it is likely that the two guards will take turns playing on and off the ball, as Newbill has significant experience playing both point and shooting guard.

It is that kind of versatility that Chambers believes is a paramount to the team's future success. While Newbill's production is a constant, the Lions will need variety of players to perform behind him in various roles.

That's why the fourth-year coach was so happy for Garner on Friday. The freshman was handed the opportunity to prove himself and exceeded expectations.

"The kid earned the right to start because he gets it done on both ends of the floor," Chambers said. "It just shows his, and ours - as a team and a staff and a program - our confidence in him to make plays."

Garner was not the only member of his family to have a standout performance Friday night. His mother, Kim, sang the national anthem before the game.

For a player getting his first start, hearing his mother's voice was a great way to lessen the pressure.

"My mom sang the national anthem for my team in high school, so I was kind of used to it," Garner said. "At the this stage, you wouldn't think your mom would sing the national anthem. It was exciting." 

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

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014-'15 men's basketball season. Tonight, the Nittany Lions open the season against Morgan State inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

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




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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The past two semesters have been a whirlwind for Brett Gravatt.

From switching schools, adjusting to new teammates and dealing with an injury, the Penn State men's soccer sophomore has certainly had his hands full since last spring. 

Still, the 19-year-old believes his transition from Akron to Penn State has ultimately gone as well as possible.

"It went really smooth," Gravatt said. "The players welcomed me really well and the coaches have been really helpful and supportive."

A midfielder for the Nittany Lions, Gravatt has gotten the first two starts of his Penn State career the past two games. However, his rise from bench player to Division I starter hasn't been an easy one.

It all began last year, when the Dunn Loring, Virginia native realized he didn't want to spend the rest of his college career at Akron, where he had appeared in 11 of 22 games as a freshman.

After getting released from his scholarship, Gravatt spoke to his high school best friend, Nittany Lions backup goalie Evan Finney about potentially coming to Penn State. Finney got him in contact with head coach Bob Warming, who told Gravatt about the benefits of the university as a whole.

"I went to Akron for soccer but when I talked to coach Warming, he sold me on getting a great degree and being a part of another great program," Gravatt said. "He told me even if the soccer thing didn't work out, I'd still be getting a great education."

That was all it took to convince Gravatt that he belonged in blue and white. Still, the challenges didn't end there for the 6-foot-1 midfielder.

Looking to get accustomed to his new environment as quickly as possible, the former Zip showed up in State College early in the summer to begin training. Although things went well at first, the trouble began when he tore his meniscus.

Soon after the surgery was completed, doctors realized that his knee also contained a blood clot. The injury caused Gravatt to miss training camp and the Lions season opener against Oakland.

"It was definitely difficult," Gravatt said. "I gelled pretty well in the summer before the injury. The guys were great to me [while I was out] though. I still felt like I belonged." 

Once he recovered, Gravatt was not handed a starting spot, as he needed to shake off the rust and prove he could play serious minutes for a Big Ten contender.

In Penn State's first 16 games, he received just 84 minutes of playing time in seven appearances. Finally, with the Nittany Lions playing his former squad in their regular season finale, Gravatt was given his first start.

Against Akron, the former Zip was around the ball all night, getting off three shots in a much needed 1-0 victory for Penn State.

"[Coach Warming] was hinting that I was going to start," Gravatt said. "He knew I was really excited for a game like that and that I would perform." 

Since then, Gravatt started for a second time against Michigan State and is now primed to be a key performer for the Lions when the NCAA Tournament begins next week. 

Gravatt credits his teammates for encouraging him when he wasn't playing. One player that was particularly helpful was the only one who has been his teammate for all of college, fellow Akron transfer Riley Grant.

Dealing with an injury would have been tough enough without the added pressure of adjusting to a new school in a completely different state. In Grant, Gravatt had both a roommate and a friend to lean on and make the transition with.

"It's been really great having Riley here," Gravatt said. "It was nice to have a familiar face when I first got here. We've had the experiences together and we're roommates now. We're very good friends."

For Grant, it was a pleasure to help his friend out during a difficult time. After all, the Copley, Ohio native may not have ended up at Penn State if it wasn't for Gravatt.

When Gravatt made his decision to become a Nittany Lion, he knew Grant was also going through the process of choosing a new school. He made sure to get his teammate in contact with Warming.

"After I got my release, Brett always said, 'I'll talk to coach for you,'" Grant said. " He told me how great coach [Warming] was to him and that really helped." 

Grant also agreed that having Gravatt around was a huge help when he first arrived at Penn State. Not only has his company been nice, but the determination Gravatt showed in working his way into the lineup has been motivational as well. 

"It's great [having Gravatt around] because I wouldn't have known anybody," Grant said with a laugh. "It was a whole new beginning just like it was when we started at Akron.

"Brett's one of the hardest workers I know. When he was hurt or not playing he kept his head up and just wanted to help the team and that shows how driven he is. He's helping us now and we're going to need him." 

No matter how much the team does need Gravatt in the NCAA Tournament, there is little room for error for any of the players now that they are in a do-or-die situation.

That challenge is something Gravatt is looking forward to. Now that he has proven himself in Penn State's rotation, there is nowhere to go but up. 

"I want to do whatever I can to help the team," Gravatt said. "I've always been an offensive player and coach and everyone has helped me a lot with becoming a better defender."