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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The Penn State women's hockey team is no stranger to a tough road schedule. The Nittany Lions traveled to Pittsburgh, Pa. and split with conference foe Robert Morris this past weekend.

Friday afternoon's contest was dominated by Penn State, as the Blue and White shutout the Colonials, 5-0. However, it was a different story Saturday, as the Colonials returned the favor by winning, 4-2.

"We're a team that's comfortable playing in any environment," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "We have a group of big time competitors, and I'm really pleased with the effort this weekend.

Penn State played very disciplined hockey down a player. Robert Morris went 0-for-9 on the player-advantage. In 18 games played this season, opponents are converting on just 21.8 percent of power play opportunities.

 "It was a great effort from our penalty killers all weekend," said Brandwene. "They played with great confidence, great poise, and really good aggressiveness. I'm really pleased with their effort at both ends of the ice." 

Additionally, Penn State scored a short-handed goal in each of the two games against the Colonials.

Micayla Catanzariti scored the first shorthanded goal in game one. Then, in game two, Laura Bowman continued the trend. Hannah Bramm added a power play goal, as well.

 "I'm so proud of Micayla and her whole line," said Brandwene. "They continue to give us a great effort night in and night out. They do a great job as individual penalty killers, as well. It was great to see them get rewarded. It was a heck of a pass by Emily Laurenzi, as well."

Catanzariti's first goal of the season, the aforementioned shorthanded goal, was set up beautifully by her teammate, Emily Laurenzi.

 "Great forecheck by Em Laurenzi," said Brandwene on how the play started. "Excellent work behind the goal line and a beautiful backhand saucer pass to Micayla who was in the right spot and had a great shot release."

Amy Petersen and Hannah Hoenshell each scored a goal while Shannon Yoxheimer added a pair of goals to round out Penn State's five.

Play between the pipes was equally as impressive over the weekend. Celine Whitlinger made a season-high 42 saves en route to her second-straight shutout, while Hannah Ehresmann stopped 33 shots in Saturday's loss.

"It was a terrific performance by Celine on Friday," said Brandwene. "Controlled, efficient. I'm really proud of her. Hannah battled hard. She did a great job of seeing pucks through traffic and excellent work on the penalty kill. I'm really pleased with the goaltending."

Despite winning the first game convincingly, the Nittany Lions were outshot in both contests, 42-21 and 37-21, respectively.

In response to the large shot differentials, Brandwene continues to look at each subsequent game as part of the process.

"We continue to strive for excellence in all three zones, in all aspects of our game, and I'm really pleased with the continued growth of this hockey team in all aspects," said Brandwene. "We are taking things one day at a time. I'm looking forward to getting back to work at the beginning of the week and stringing some practices together in preparation for the weekend."

The biggest take away from the two-game weekend series at 84 Lumber Arena was Penn State's apparent on-ice communication.

"Our on-ice communication was as good as it's been all season long," said Brandwene. "That's something I'm really pleased with. The players have taken great responsibility there, and it's something we're definitely going to build on."

The Nittany Lions will continue their progression in practice this week before facing off against Mercyhurst in a two-game home series at Pegula Ice Arena this upcoming Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

 

 

 

Lions Looking to Extend Winning Streak at Home

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Off to its best start since the 2000-'01 Sweet 16 season, the Nittany Lion basketball team (8-1) returns home on Wednesday for its first of two-straight games in the Bryce Jordan Center. Penn State and Duquesne (3-2) will tip at 9 p.m. (TV - BTN).

Thanks to a 73-69 victory at Marshall on Saturday, the Nittany Lions extended their winning streak to six-straight games, marking the longest active winning streak among all 14 Big Ten teams and the program's longest since the 2007-'08 season.

But head coach Patrick Chambers knows how long the season is, and he is just looking for the team to progress each time it steps on the floor.

"I feel like we have a lot of room for growth," Chambers said. "I think we have leadership and great veterans. And that's why you are winning games. And we are making plays in the last four minutes to have that 8-1 record. Through the course of a 40-minute game, though, there are still a lot of habits we need to work on."

Ranked fourth in the nation in scoring average, senior D.J. Newbill has been lights out for the Nittany Lions through the first nine games of the season. Newbill enters the Duquesne game averaging 23.3 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting from the field.

"The last couple games, he is getting so much attention," Chambers said. "You see he's getting a little frustrated, but he has held it together. He made a great pass to Donovon Jack late in that game. He made two big free throws. In the second half, he is letting the game come to him a little bit more. He's doing it all. He's making his pull-ups, his floaters, his threes. He's getting himself to the line...I don't think he's so caught up in scoring. I just think he wants to win basketball games."

The tandem of Brandon Taylor and John Johnson equaled Newbill's scoring output of 17 tallies in the win at Marshall. Like Coach Chambers has talked about throughout the season, Taylor and Johnson pacing the Lions illustrates the team's depth. Granted, Newbill has led or tied for the team lead in scoring in all nine games this season. But the senior guard has not been forced to carry the team's offensive output. Taylor and Johnson are two players growing in confidence by the game.

"He is maturing into a complete player," Chambers said of Taylor. "He's very comfortable now on the block. He hit two really nice floaters. A man of his size, he's really talented. BT plays with a lot of emotion, a lot of passion.

Penn State and Duquesne will meet for the 46th time on Wednesday night. In a series that dates back to 1924, Penn State owns a 26-19 edge. The series record includes a 16-4 Penn State record in games played in Happy Valley. The Lions have won two-straight games against the Dukes, including last season's 68-59 victory in Pittsburgh.

Duquesne is 3-2 on the season following a 76-62 setback to cross-town rival Pittsburgh. The Dukes entered the week ranked first nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (.458). The Dukes have shot north of 50 percent from the arc in three of the five games this season. Junior guard Derrick Colter leads the nation (through Sunday's games) in individual 3-point percentage (16-25, .640). Freshman forward TySean Powell began the week as the nation's leader in field goal percentage (26-34, .765). Colter and Powell are two of three Duquesne players averaging double-digits.

"It's an in-state rivalry game. It's always been a dogfight every time we play Jim Ferry's team," Chambers said. "He's a great coach. They are a lot better. I just watched some of the game versus Pitt. That was a battle. So I expect another hard fought down to the last four minutes type of game that hopefully we can find a way."

The Nittany Lions enter the contest 4-0 in games played in the Bryce Jordan Center this season.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Learning Process Continues as Lady Lions Top Wagner

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10612179.jpegBy Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coquese Washington has been open about it since day one of the 2014-15 season - it's a continual work in progress. Part of that work in progress is how a team comes off of a setback, which Penn State (2-6) did very well Sunday topping Wagner (0-7) 96-66.

Her players agree with that assessment and used Sunday's win as another learning point in the young season.


"I don't think our confidence was ever in question," sophomore guard Sierra Moore said. "We just keep working hard every day in practice and we knew what we had to [improve] upon and we knew that if we worked on the things that we needed to [work on], the outcome would be good."

Teammate Lindsey Spann had similar thoughts to Moore stating they know it's a day-by-day mentality in terms of the team's improvement.

"We know that we have a lot of potential, so we just have to be willing to get improve each time on the court," guard Lindsey Spann said. "If we can put up [96 points] each time, then that's what we're going do, but it's just about growth and getting better for us right now."

Washington said after Sunday's win she did see many areas of her team's play improve, which proves to them they are capable of playing the way they want to if they continue to trust the process.

Against Wagner, Washington specifically noticed her team's discipline is starting to get better as they play more games.

"When you're young, you don't always have the discipline to execute," Washington said. "One of the things I was pleased with today was that I saw a lot more discipline out there, especially defensively in the first half.

"What I'm starting to see is a lot more discipline and execution. It's allowing us to be successful."

By being able to own a commanding lead in the second half, Washington was able to test out a few different lineup combinations. Some featured three guards on the floor at the same time; others featured three forwards on the floor at the same time.

Washington even experimented having a lineup without leading scorers Lindsey Spann and Sierra Moore on the floor at the same time, being able to see what other players could contribute in their absence.

"We're still young and we're still finding combinations that play well together," Washington said. "We started one lineup to start the game, but we went with a smaller one pretty quickly that worked a lot better."

This won't be the last time Washington does this, either. By mixing up who is on the floor together, the team becomes comfortable in what could be uncomfortable situations moving forward.

"We will probably have to go with the lineup that's working that night based on matchups and foul issues," said Washington. "It's good that we have a lot of options to go to. We can play big if we need to and we can play small if we need to. As long as we're doing a good job of taking care of the ball and rebounding, like we did today, then I think we'll be alright."

The next task for the Lady Lions is Hartford on the road Wednesday at 7 p.m. before returning home to the BJC to face Rider at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Lions Dominate in First Big Ten Sweep

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "Firsts" have been a theme for the Penn State men's hockey team over the past few years. This weekend's trip to Wisconsin was no exception.

The Lions crossed another accomplishment off their list, completing their first Big Ten sweep on the road after taking down the Badgers, 5-2 and 4-2, Friday and Saturday nights.

"That's something that we didn't know when we'd be fortunate to have that experience," head coach Guy Gadowsky said regarding the two victories. "It probably happened a lot sooner than anybody would have expected, and to get it against a program like Wisconsin that's just so successful and has such great tradition, it feels really great.

"The guys should be proud of themselves, and the program should be proud of itself. It certainly is an indication of the entire program, the university, administration, the student body and fans. It's a great credit to the whole program."


According to freshman James Robinson, sweeping teams on the road has been a major goal repeatedly discussed this year. The fact that this objective was accomplished against a Big Ten team made it even more satisfying for the squad.

Robinson had a large part in both wins, playing an excellent brand of hockey and being rewarded with his first and second NCAA goals.

His first career goal, an unassisted breakaway, gave the Lions (9-4-2, 3-1-0) a two-goal lead during Friday's game with the Badgers (1-10-1, 0-2-0).

"Their forward passed it up to their D-man," Robinson recounted. "He was my guy, so I headed out to the point. The puck bounced over his stick, and I was able to beat him to it. I went down on a partial breakaway and just took a quick shot that got over the goalie's glove."

The Alberta-native has appeared in 12 of the team's 15 games this season and is already making a strong impression.

According to Gadowsky, Robinson makes the team more confident through his dedication and work ethic. In his eyes, the freshman played his best hockey of the year during these two games.

"He'll block shots with his chest," Gadowsky said about Robinson. "He'll backcheck when his lungs are burning. He's tough to play against. He goes hard to the net. He just does a lot of things that make him very difficult to play against."

Robinson was not the only Albertan to make a substantial impact in Madison, as both David Glen and Dylan Richard returned to the lineup.

Glen and Richard had three and two points on the weekend, respectively, but their presence on the ice was far more valuable to the Lions. Both forwards bring unparalleled energy and skill to the team, which was missed during their absences.

"They both ended up with a goal on Friday night, but if they hadn't had any points at all they still would have been very, very valuable," Gadowsky said. "Both those guys are such character guys. They both play to win, not for stats. They both are extremely difficult to play against. They bring a lot of identity, and I thought the boost that they gave us coming back in the lineup was just huge."

Glen was ecstatic to contribute to the team's scoring, but he knows scoring is not the only contribution he makes to the Lions day in and day out.

"It's obviously nice whenever you can make an impact for the team," Glen said. "I try to make impacts in other ways, but it's just nice to have an opportunity to get on the scoreboard and that sort of thing. I'm glad to be back and glad to help out on the ice."

Following this series, the Blue and White have some much needed time off. With a lengthy list of injuries still affecting the team, the three-week break will help to rejuvenate the Lions.

Nevertheless, even with the time off, ending on such a high note will only increase the team's confidence, making it that much more dangerous.

"I feel like since we've had such a successful first half, it just makes the guys that much hungrier and eager to get back out on the ice, continue with our success and see where the year can take us," Robinson said. "I feel like we have a great team this year, and we can do some serious damage this year in the NCAA. I know everyone's excited to see what the rest of the year has in store."

Spann, Moore and Mitchell Lead Lions Past Wagner

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10611015.jpegBy Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Looking to snap a skid, the Lady Lions took the court against Wagner Sunday afternoon hungry for a victory. Thanks to a big afternoon from Lindsey Spann, Sierra Moore and Kaliyah Mitchell, the Lions powered past Wagner for a 96-66 win inside the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday.


Heading into this season, coach Coquese Washington knew that it would take a few games for her team to find their groove and develop some on-court chemistry. But, during Sunday's contest it was obvious that Spann, Moore and Mitchell have come into their own, as the trio contributed to 62 of 96 points for the Lady Lions. Sunday was the first time since 2011 that three Lady Lions registered 20 points or more in the same game.

"They are our starting backcourt and they are starting to develop some chemistry on both ends of the floor," coach Washington said. "Chemistry, especially with guard play, is big for our program. When our guard play has been fluid, we've been a better team. That's what we saw out there tonight."

Spann versus the Seahawks
The redshirt freshman got the ball rolling for the Lady Lions following the opening tip, as she sunk the first basket of the matchup just 18 seconds in. Spann netted her 100th career point just 3:30 into the matchup. She finished with 22 on the night, securing her eighth-straight double-digit performance of her career.

"This was a team win," Spann said. "We were sharing the ball and getting each other open looks. We worked on our transition [at practice] and by doing the things we practice it can open things up for all of us."

She wasn't kidding; Moore and Mitchell followed suit with career-high games.  

Moore versus the Seahawks
Aside from posting a 20-point game, the sophomore was nearly perfect from the free throw line, going 11 for 12 on the game (21 total points). Moore also tallied seven assists, a career-best, with her five-assist game against Seton Hall coming in second. 

"We did a good job of moving the ball tonight," Moore said. "Just passing the ball around and getting a lot of ball reversals opens up a lot of different opportunities for us. When that happens, it's easier to get to the basket and score."

Mitchell versus the Seahawks
Mitchell's sophomore season is off to a solid start, as she notched her 200th career point with a layup in Sunday's matchup. With two solid halves on Sunday, Mitchell tallied 20 for the Lady Lions.

"I think it [career high game] was another sign of growth," Mitchell said. "Moving from last year to this year, it was a rough start but I have just been focusing on my game. Being able to contribute to the team is something that I'm really focused on and I will try to do it any way I can."

Undeniable Court Chemistry
Individually, Spann, Moore and Mitchell are starting to come into their own; they are becoming more and more comfortable on the offensive end of the floor. But, this trio is strongest together. Aside from the 96-66 win, the mere fact that three Lady Lions had 20-point nights shows they are finding each other on the court and creating opportunities for multiple scorers.

Sunday's contest was the highest point total the team has secured all season and was just 20 points shy of tying the Bryce Jordan Center's all time record of 117 points scored in a single game (Nov. 8, 2013 against St. Francis).


Team bests aside, Sunday's much needed win wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of Spann, Mitchell and Moore on both offense and defense.   

"They are all starting to develop camaraderie out there on both ends of the floor," Washington said. "When they are playing with that kind of confidence and synergy amongst themselves, it rubs off on the rest of the team and provides us the opportunity to make good plays."

Inside the Pinstripe Bowl Selection - News and Notes

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Pinstripe Bowl_Announcement_BC.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Selected to play in their 45th bowl on Sunday evening, the Nittany Lions (6-6, 2-6) are headed to New York City for a matchup against Boston College (7-5, 4-4) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Yankee Stadium).

10528675 (1).jpegLed by one of the nation's top defenses, Penn State is headed to the postseason under the direction of first-year head coach James Franklin. The Lions will enter the bowl season with a defensive unit ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense (84.8 ypg), No.2 in total defense (269.8 ypg), No. 8 in scoring defense (17.7 ppg) and No. 10 in passing yards allowed (185.0 ypg).

Big Ten Linebacker of the Year Mike Hull headlines a group of 17 seniors deserving of the opportunity to play in the postseason. Hull was tremendous in 2014, tallying 134 tackles (11.2 tpg). Junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel joined Hull as a member of the All-Big Ten First Team.

Take a look inside some of the news, notes and history following the Pinstripe Bowl announcement.

Coach Franklin's Reaction to the Pinstripe Bowl Announcement
Head coach James Franklin participated in a media call on Sunday night after the Pinstripe Bowl announcement. On the road recruiting, Franklin answered questions from the media for approximately 20 minutes to look ahead to the game. Coach Franklin said that each of the coaches on the staff has Boston College film already downloaded onto their iPads for review as they are on the road recruiting this week. Here are some highlights from Coach Franklin's media call.

On his reaction to the bowl announcement - "I would say it's excitement because I know how important these practices are on a lot of different levels. Obviously to get prepared for Boston College, who is a tough opponent. Also, to continue to get better and as a program. And the amount of work you get with the young guys already has been big. I just think from a program perspective, it is invaluable."

Thoughts on Boston College and head coach Steve Addazio - "I've known Coach Addazio professionally for a long time. Don Brown, the defensive coordinator there, we worked together at the University of Maryland. I think very highly of him. Frank Leonard, their tight ends coach, we worked together at Kansas State. I think highly of Frank. They've done a great job there. Tough, hard-nosed, blue collar. They've been there a couple years now. BC has always had a history of having a hard-nosed, blue-collar team."

On the bowl practice schedule - "Short term, it allows us to keep our family together a little longer to continue this season. Obviously, big picture, moving forward the extra reps are very, very important. We practiced already on Saturday and Sunday. We will practice most of the weekends. We'll also have some practices during the week where it will be coordinator practices. It will be myself and the offensive and defensive and special teams coordinators. The rest of the coaches will be on the road recruiting. The closer we get to game time, we will get into our normal routine."

Thoughts on the opportunity to play in New York - "First of all, how cool is this? You're and 18, 19, 20, 21-year old young man, and you get to spend a week in Ireland and a week in New York City in the same year. Pretty cool. Obviously, being in a region of the country Penn State has strong ties is awesome. I know our Alumni Association is excited about some of the things they are putting together. The state of New York and New York City are very, very important to Penn State, and they always will be."

Matching Up against the Eagles
Penn State and Boston College will collide for the 24th time when they meet in New York. The Lions and Eagles last met on Sept. 11, 2004 in Boston. Penn State leads the all-time series, 19-4. Boston College has won the last three meetings.

Second-year head coach Steve Addazio has orchestrated a superb turnaround for the Boston College program during the past two seasons. After inheriting a team that went 2-10 in 2012, the Eagles went 7-5 and played in the Independence Bowl after a two-year absence from the postseason.

Boston College finished fourth in the ACC's Atlantic Division after finishing 7-5 overall and 4-4 in conference games. The Eagles have wins over UMass, USC, Maine, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Syracuse this season. Boston College's losses include a three-point road setback to No. 3 Florida State (20-17).

Addazio coached against the Nittany Lions twice as head coach of Temple in 2011 (PSU W, 14-10) and 2012 (PSU W, 24-13).

Penn State in Yankee Stadium
The Nittany Lions will be playing in the new Yankee Stadium for the first time. Penn State played three times in old Yankee Stadium, tying West Virginia, 13-13, in 1923 (Photo on left), falling to Georgia Tech, 16-7, in 1925 (Photo on right) and falling to NYU, 7-0, in 1929.

Yankee Stadium.jpgPinstripe Bowl History
Announced as the "Yankee" bowl by New York Yankees then-minority owner Hal Steinbrenner and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sept. 30, 2009, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl is in its fifth season of existence. Beginning with this season, though, the Big Ten will kick off an eight-year agreement with the Pinstripe Bowl. The winner of the game is awarded the George M. Steinbrenner Trophy, while the MVP is awarded the David C. Koch MVP Trophy. The Pinstripe Bowl is one of two bowl games held in the Northeast, with the other being the Military Bowl (Annapolis, Maryland). The 2014 Pinstripe Bowl will air on ESPN at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 27.

Previous Pinstripe Bowls
Dec. 30, 2010 - Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34
Dec. 30, 2011 - Rutgers 27, Iowa State 13
Dec. 29, 2012 - Syracuse 38, West Virginia 14
Dec. 28, 2013 - Notre Dame 29, Rutgers 16

Penn State Bowl History
The Pinstripe Bowl will be Penn State's 45th bowl game. The program's rich bowl history began with the Rose Bowl during the 1922 season. Here is a complete list of Penn State's bowl games.


                               Penn State Bowl Results (27-15-2)

Season

Bowl

Opponent

Score

W/L

1922

Rose

USC

3-14

L

1947

Cotton

SMU

13-13

T

1959

Liberty

Alabama

7-0

W

1960

Liberty

Oregon

14-12

W

1961

Gator

Georgia Tech

30-15

W

1962

Gator

Florida

7-17

L

1967

Gator

Florida State

17-17

T

1968

Orange

Kansas

15-14

W

1969

Orange

Missouri

10-3

W

1971

Cotton

Texas

30-6

W

1972

Sugar

Oklahoma

0-14

L

1973

Orange

LSU

16-9

W

1974

Cotton

Baylor

41-20

W

1975

Sugar

Alabama

6-13

L

1976

Gator

Notre Dame

9-20

L

1977

Fiesta

Arizona State

42-30

W

1978

Sugar

Alabama

7-14

L

1979

Liberty

Tulane

9-6

W

1980

Fiesta

Ohio State

31-19

W

1981

Fiesta

USC

26-10

W

1982

Sugar

Georgia

27-23

W

1983

Aloha

Washington

13-10

W

1985

Orange

Oklahoma

10-25

L

1986

Fiesta

Miami (Fla.)

14-10

W

1987

Citrus

Clemson

10-35

L

1989

Holiday

BYU

50-39

W

1990

Blockbuster

Florida State

17-24

L

1991

Fiesta

Tennessee

42-17

W

1992

Blockbuster

Stanford

3-24

L

1993

Citrus

Tennessee

31-13

W

1994

Rose

Oregon

38-20

W

1995

Outback

Auburn

43-14

W

1996

Fiesta

Texas

38-15

W

1997

Citrus

Florida

6-21

L

1998

Outback

Kentucky

26-14

W

1999

Alamo

Texas A&M

24-0

W

2002

Capital One

Auburn

9-13

L

2005

Orange

Florida State

26-23 (3OT)

W

2006

Outback

Tennessee

20-10

W

2007

Alamo

Texas A&M

24-17

W

2008

Rose

USC

24-38

L

2009

Capital One

LSU

19-17

W

2010

Outback

Florida

24-37

L

2011

TicketCity

Houston

14-30

L



Seven Lions From NYC Metro Area
The Pinstripe Bowl will be a home game of sorts for seven Nittany Lions on the roster hailing from New York or Northern New Jersey. The list includes Jordan Lucas (New Rochelle, N.Y.), Brendan Mahon (Randolph, N.J.), Angelo Mangiro (Roxbury, N.J.), Jesse Merise (Hillside, N.J.), Garrett Sickels (Red Bank, N.J.), Anthony Smith (Dover, N.J.) and Evan Stenfield (Short Hills, N.J.).

Lions Begin Practice
Penn State kicked off its postseason practices on Saturday morning inside Holuba Hall. The Lions again practiced on Sunday in preparation for the bowl game. The next event on the schedule will be an introductory press conference at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Stay tuned for much more coverage as the Nittany Lions return to the postseason.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions Fly Past Dayton into Regional Semifinals

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10609727.jpegBy Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State has a number of talented freshmen who have transitioned well to tournament play, but when it comes to the postseason, experience matters.

Such was the case Saturday night at Rec Hall, as junior outside hitter Megan Courtney tallied 11 kills and a .440 hitting percentage to lead fifth-seeded Penn State (32-3) to a second round sweep (25-20, 25-18, 25-16) of Dayton (30-6) to advance to the NCAA regional semifinals.

Courtney, who also had six digs against the Flyers, is from Dayton, making Saturday evening's performance that much more memorable.

"I think you just need to remember what you're playing for," said Courtney. "So I took this game to heart because obviously I'm from Dayton."

Micha Hancock and Aiyana Whitney are two other veteran Nittany Lions who impacted the victory. Hancock had four kills on a .571 hitting percentage, to go along with 36 assists, eight digs and three service aces, while Whitney was a force at the net, registering eight kills on a .538 hitting percentage.

"I thought we hit well," said head coach Russ Rose. "Whenever you get in the tournament you feel fortunate when you advance.... I thought Megan hit well tonight. I thought Aiyana took some pretty good swings."

In the first set, Penn State led 24-16 and was on the brink of taking a 1-0 match advantage until Dayton clawed back to make the score 24-20. However, Whitney sealed the 25-20 win on a powerful kill set up well by Hancock.

The Flyers carried momentum into the second set, taking Penn State to 9-9, but the Nittany Lions took care of business, finishing the game on a 16-9 run to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Courtney and Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Haleigh Washington, each had five kills in the second frame to pace the Blue and White.

"We hit really well, but there were a lot of things that contributed to that," said Courtney. "I think we passed really well. I think Micha set some great balls. We controlled Dayton pretty well offensively, and I think it was easy for us to transition off of them, so that was good, too."

The Nittany Lions were just too much for Dayton in the final frame, never relinquishing the lead en route to a straight set triumph. Senior middle hitter Nia Grant punished three kills on a 1.000 hitting percentage in the last set to help the defending national champions advance to the regional semifinals.

For Rose, whose Penn State program once played in the Atlantic-10 Conference, Dayton's competitiveness and performance could not go unnoticed.

"Well I'd first like to congratulate Dayton on a terrific season, and I come from that statement having been in the Atlantic-10 Conference for a number of years and knowing how it is to represent a conference and go play other teams," said Rose.

Up next for the Nittany Lions is 12th-ranked UCLA, who defeated LIU Brooklyn in straight sets in the first round and Long Beach State in straight sets in the second round to advance. The two historic programs will meet in Louisville, Kentucky, at the KFC Yum! Center on Friday at 7 p.m.

"We'll have a little window of practice," said Rose. "Usually they give you an envelope that tells you when and where you're going. We'll be going to the Louisville regional, and last I heard, there will be a couple of other Big Ten teams there. So Ohio State and Wisconsin is in the other half of the bracket."

In regards to UCLA, a team that the Nittany Lions have played a number of times over the year, Rose acknowledges the talent that the Bruins put out on the floor every match. Penn State defeated UCLA, 3-0, in September.

If Penn State manages to move past UCLA, the Nittany Lions would face the winner of Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Blue and White is 2-0 against Ohio State and 1-0 versus Wisconsin this season.

Nittany Lions Sweep Siena, Advance in NCAA Tournament

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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Big Ten Freshman of the Year Haleigh Washington hit .900 and recorded a match-high six blocks and All-Big Ten team selection Micha Hancock tallied seven serving aces and 38 assists to lead fifth-seeded Penn State (31-3) to a straight-set victory (25-17, 25-10, 25-5) over Siena (19-15) in the first round of the 2014 NCAA tournament Friday night at Rec Hall. 

Penn State carried its hot play into the tournament. Dating all the way back to Oct. 17, the Blue and White has won 15 straight matches and 44 consecutive sets. 

"We really had a nice day controlling the ball," said head coach Russ Rose. "I don't think it was a match where we had to play our best, but we kept the ball in play and picked up our offense certainly in the second and third game."

With seven serving aces, Hancock now holds the Big Ten single-season record with 116 aces on the year. Minnesota's Sharon Oesterling set the previous record with 109 back in 1989.

"It's cool," said Hancock. "I want to go back on the end line and try to serve as hard as I can for the team and see what kind of cushion we can get so people are more relaxed. It's cool to get the ace thing, but it's also cool to win."

The freshman trio of Washington, Ali Frantti and Simone Lee did not let the postseason scene affect their play. In fact, they combined for 20 of Penn State's 40 total kills.

With the victory over the Saints, the Nittany Lions return to Rec Hall tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. to compete against Dayton (30-5) in the second round of the tournament.

Nittany Lions Heading to Marshall on Saturday

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10602300.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the heels of a 61-58 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday, the Nittany Lion basketball team again showed its poise down the stretch in a tight ballgame.

Heading into Saturday's 6 p.m. tilt at Marshall (3-4), Penn State (7-1) has played six-straight contests decided by eight points or fewer. The Lions have illustrated an ability to make plays, on both ends of the floor, when the game has been in doubt. It's a sign of maturity from a group that is no stranger to close games.

Penn State is 5-1 during the span of games decided by fewer than 10 points. Last year? The Lions went 10-11 in those games.

"We are confident, but I think that comes from the experiences we had last year," Chambers said. "We are confident in one another to make plays at the end. Our defense obviously saved us in some games. And then we've had different guys step up...I think our depth, our leadership, our ability to play different lineups can counter some of the adjustments opposing coaches and teams make. I do think it is a more confident, mentally tough bunch right now."

You can't pinpoint one player or one sequence during the six-game span as the main catalyst for Penn State's confidence in tight games. Granted D.J. Newbill has been the MVP for the Lions during the first three weeks of the season, but John Johnson has accounted for a host of huge plays, Ross Travis has been clutch, Shep Garner's free throw shooting has played a big role. And the list goes on.

But it all comes back to Penn State's depth, which is a topic Coach Chambers has been preaching since the team began practicing in October. The bench is deeper, and the Lions can rely on eight to 10 players to step into the rotation and produce.

"It feels good to be able to go to the bench, and the bench lifts us up," Chambers said.

Chambers said on Monday that he wanted to see more on defense and on the glass. The Lions answered the bell with a tremendous defensive performance against Virginia Tech, limiting the Hokies to 39 percent from the field. And thanks to 32 combined rebounds from the front line, the Lions out-rebounded Virginia Tech, 47-38.

Now, Chambers is looking for more ball movement on offense. The Nittany Lions had just four assists on 20 made field goal attempts against Virginia Tech.

"When you are really good, you are selfless on offense," Chambers said. "So we have to work on sharing the basketball and doing the little things to get easier shots. I thought we made it very difficult on ourselves against Virginia Tech...We need better balance on both ends."

Marshall enters the game looking to snap a four-game losing streak. The Thundering Herd has been off since Monday (L, 77-59 vs. South Carolina). Redshirt sophomore Ryan Taylor leads Marshall in scoring at 16.0 points per game. The Herd is averaging 68.6 points per game on offense and has allowed 67.7 points per game on defense.

Penn State and Marshall will collide for the seventh time (PSU is 6-0). The Nittany Lions topped the Herd, 90-77, on Dec. 7 last season.

"They had a week off, so they have been preparing for us for a week," said Chambers. "It's a Saturday at 6 o'clock, so my gut tells me there will be a lot of fans there. We have to be ready for a very difficult road game. Again, another close game down the stretch and hopefully we can find a way to come out on top."



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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The two may be miles away from home, but their journey together to Penn State has helped mold the friendship of a lifetime. Penn State women's hockey Juniors Micayla Catanzariti and Celine Whitlingerare were both integral pieces in Penn State's transition to a Division I program and have taken the team to new heights, but the similar paths that each took in arriving in Happy Valley is like California Dreamin'.

"
Both are fabulous, fabulous players in their own right," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "You have great hockey being played in the state of California. And, historically it goes back to the Wayne Gretzky trade."    

"We've been through a lot together," said Catanzariti. "It's made coming here so much easier. Especially being so far away from home, just having someone from home who knows everything about you..."

"...Brings a little piece of home with you," said Whitlinger finishing Catanzariti's sentence.

The voyage starts in California, takes a one-year pit stop in Ohio and then finishes in Happy Valley.

Anaheim Ducks

Catanzariti hails from Rancho Santa Margarita and Whitlinger is from Garden Grove, but their routes first crossed at the age of 13 when each starting playing on the Anaheim Ducks club team.

"We did so much traveling [with the Ducks]," said Catanzariti. "We'd leave Thursday night on a red eye, play six games and then get back Sunday night in California. It was a lot of traveling."   

The two Californians played for the Ducks for four seasons (2007-2010), helping guide the club to three bronze medals at the National Championships.

Gilmour Academy

However, the hockey road doesn't end there for them. Rather, due to their excellent play for the Ducks, the duo got recruited prior to the start of their senior year of high school to attend Gilmour Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, to further their hockey careers.

"It was like if you go, I'll go, but we were probably both going to go regardless," Whitlinger said about attending Gilmour Academy with Catanzariti.

Unlike California hockey, where Catanzariti and Whitlinger played side-by-side with guys their age, Gilmour Academy provided an environment that was similar to that of the women's collegiate game.

"The game is completely different in California," said Catanzariti. "They are stronger, faster, they hit, but they weren't allowed to hit us, but it was still more physical. Then in Gilmour we played other girl's high school teams, so I think that really prepared both of us for here [Penn State]. We were on the ice every day at Gilmour, which was different. We practiced three or four times a week in California, but at Gilmour we'd skate every day."

Penn State

After a tournament in Ohio, Brandwene recruited Catanzariti.

"We had seen Micayla pretty much right out of the gate as the program was launched during that transition year," said Brandwene. "She made an immediate impression on me with her work ethic, her intensity, and just those intangibles that she brings to the game along with her skill set. So that's where that process started. I'm thrilled that it worked out and glad that she saw Penn State as a great fit for her. She continues to do great things for us."

Then, Whitlinger followed suit.

"Basically I committed [to Penn State] and convinced Celine," said Catanzariti.

"I saw [Whitlinger] in the process just a little bit later and also brings all the attributes we look for in a Penn State women's hockey player," said Brandwene. "She is a terrific student who is very dedicated to her schoolwork, a fabulous teammate, has great character, and she's a tremendous athlete in goal and continues to have great success here."

While Catanzariti has tallied one assist this season, Whitlinger has posted a 4-4 record in net to go along with a 2.88 goals against average and a .910 save percentage.

According to Brandwene, having two Californians on the team has created a very natural, comfortable and fun-loving family environment. Combining their unique, positive personalities with their big time contributions make for one proud head coach.

"They bring great intensity and great spirit to the program," said Brandwene. "I'm honored to have the opportunity to coach both of them individually and collectively."

Californication and the rest of the Nittany Lions (7-6-3, 2-3-1 CHA) travel to Pittsburgh this weekend to take on Robert Morris (4-10-3, 1-3-2 CHA) in a two-game series at 84 Lumber Arena.