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GAME BLOG: Lady Lions host Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the No. 13/13 Penn State women's basketball contest against Minnesota on Sunday, Jan. 26 inside the Bryce Jordan Center at 1 p.m. Today's game will be televised on CBS.

 

BLOG: What to Watch  |  BLOG: Efficient Edwards Leads Lady Lions to Victory

 

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What To Watch: Penn State hosts Minnesota

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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 13/13 Penn State (14-4, 5-1) can remain atop the Big Ten with a victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-7, 2-4) in a Sunday matinee, 1 p.m. tip-off at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Back on Jan. 12, the Lady Lions lost by 10 points at home to Big Ten foe Purdue. Since giving up 84 points to the Boilermakers, head coach Coquese Washington has turned the majority of her game preparation and focus to defense.


Earlier in the week Washington and her coaching staff held a meeting with the leaders of the Lady Lions. By the looks of it, the discussion has made a serious impact on the team's recent defensive efforts.

In their last three contests, Penn State has managed to hold their opponents to an average of 49.3 points per game. To put that number into perspective, on the season, Penn State's opponents are averaging 64.3 per game.



Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Force In The Paint: Penn State has been an absolute force in the paint so far this season. Washington has used her teams' transparent height advantage to power past opposing teams. The Lady Lions are outrebounding their opponents on average 46.6 to 38.8 and winning the block battle on average 5.6 to 4.0. The success can be traced to Talia East and Tori Waldner. The twin towers down on the post have given opponents problems both offensively and defensively. East is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game and has totaled 27 blocks, while Waldner is averaging 6.1 boards per game and has swatted 26 shots.

DEFENSE: As stated above, defense has been a vital part of this Lady Lions team the past couple of weeks. Since the Purdue loss, Penn State has been able to bear down defensively and hold its opponents to a paltry 29.6% shooting over its past three games. Look for the Blue and White to proceed to circulate between both man-to-man and zone schemes as they continue to clamp down defensively.

Ball In Own Hands: As of right now, the Lady Lions sit in first place in the Big Ten. The ball is now in their hands and after their game against Minnesota on Sunday Penn State will have nine remaining Big Ten contests. That means they will have nine opportunities to obtain its third straight Big Ten regular season title. Just four of the final nine Big Ten games will be in the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center. The Lady Lions are 8-3 at home this season.

What To Watch For - Minnesota

Battle With Banham: Golden Gopher guard Rachel Banham has been arguably the most prolific scorer in the Big Ten this season. The junior is averaging 22.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists. In conference play, she leads all other players in assist-to-turnover ratio. Because of her season efforts, Banham was recently nominated to the John R. Wooden Award Women's Midseason Top 20.

"Rachel Banham is an incredible scorer," said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington after her team's win over Indiana on Wednesday. "She scores in a variety of ways. There's an art to being able to make tough shots and she has that artistry down cold. She makes her teammates better."

Inside Punch: Penn State may have met its match down on the block. The Golden Gophers have a 6-foot-5 center from Stockholm, Sweden, Amanda Zahui. The redshirt freshman leads the Big Ten in blocks this season with 58, more than East and Waldner combined. She has swatted five or more shots in five games this season, including a Minnesota-record 10 blocks against Kansas earlier in the season.

From Way Downtown: Minnesota has found success shooting around the perimeter, specifically, beyond the three-point arc. The Golden Gophers are second in the nation with a .430 three-point field goal percentage. Penn State opponents are hitting 6.8 three-point field goals per game, as opposed to the Lady Lions hitting 3.2 three-point field goals per game. So, executing from downtown could give the Golden Gophers an edge.

 

--LADY LIONS--

Efficient Edwards Leads Lady Lions To Victory

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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Defense has been a stress point that Coquese Washington has emphasized to her Lady Lions the past couple of weeks.

Edwards-Ariel (2).jpegHowever, it was senior Ariel Edwards' offensive efficiency, in addition to her strong defense, that led No. 13/13 Penn State (14-4, 5-1) to a 66-52 home victory over the Indiana Hoosiers (15-4, 2-4) last night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The versatile 6-foot-3 forward from Elmont, N.Y., was a dual threat Wednesday night, creating problems for the Hoosiers on both ends of the court.

"Ariel does a good job of attacking the basket and using her size to get herself great shots," said Washington. "When she gets to the free throw line, she shoots well from there, too."

Edwards finished the game with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and handed out four assists. She also converted on her only three-point shot attempt of the game and was 5-of-6 from the free throw line.

Thanks to her teammates crisp passes and her ability to move well without the ball, Edwards managed to pass the 800-point milestone last night, now with 806 points.

"I would definitely say it was my teammates," said Edwards about the reason she was getting open shots vs. Indiana. "They got me the ball when I was open and gave me good looks, clean looks, and I really didn't have to work really hard to get shots, which is really good."

Washington echoed her sentiments.


"I thought her teammates got her the ball in positions where she could be successful," said Washington. "She does a really good job of picking her spots and taking good shots. Part of being efficient is knowing what shots not to take. She does a good job of knowing which shots she feels comfortable taking."

The offensive efficiency exhibited by Edwards was certainly a positive, but it was her leadership that she displayed on defense that helped Penn State hold Indiana to a meager 27.6% (16-of-58) from the field.

"I don't know if there was a difference [on defense], but it [defense] has just been a focus for us," said Edwards. "It is something that we want to do game in and game out. Holding them to 27 percent is something great and something we look to do every night."


With the Lady Lions playing in a 2-3 zone the majority of the contest, Edwards managed to corral eight rebounds (six on defense), tallied one block and stole three passes.

Despite Edwards's well-balanced efforts, and the fact that the Blue and White allowed just 52 points and out-rebounded the Hoosiers, 54-30, Washington still believes there is room to grow defensively.

"I would give it [our defense] a solid B," said Washington. "I thought we did a good job of defensively contesting shots and holding them to a low shooting percentage, but I thought we could have played a little bit better."

Even though Edwards owned the spotlight against the Hoosiers, Penn State's 14-point home win would not have been possible without some other key veteran performances.

Senior center Talia East registered her second career double-double by notching 13 points and 11 rebounds, while senior guard Maggie Lucas added 18 points and eight boards.

With the double-digit win last night, the Lady Lions have now won three games in a row, prompting Washington to delve into why winning games consistently due to disciplined defense is so important.

"I think it gives us confidence," said Washington. "When we're locked in, we know we can defend. Moving forward, if you know you can guard people that gives you confidence."

Next up for the Lady Lions are the Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-7, 1-4). Tip-off at the Bryce Jordan Center is set for 1 p.m. this upcoming Sunday, as Penn State will be celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

 

--LADY LIONS--

GAME BLOG: Lady Lions host Indiana

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the No. 13/13 Penn State women's basketball contest against Indiana on Wednesday, Jan. 22 inside the Bryce Jordan Center at 7 p.m.

 

BLOG: What to Watch  |  BLOG: Defense Ready to Lead Lady Lions

 

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.


 

Defense Ready to Lead Lady Lions

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sometimes all a team needs is a wakeup call and No. 13/13 Penn State (13-4, 4-1) got theirs on Sunday Jan. 12 after a discouraging loss against Purdue at home.

Waldner-Tori.jpegThe result was a coaches meeting with the team leaders regarding the Lady Lions defensive effort. A meeting that may have redefined the 2013-14 campaign.

"The coaches brought the starters in and said 'what are you going to do to change this team's defensive mindset? Are you going to let people come on your home court and shoot whenever they want or are you going to lock down?'" senior forward Talia East said.

"We looked at each other and said 'we're going to get after it.' If we want to accomplish great things we have to lock down on defense. Everybody took that to heart and against Ohio State and Michigan State you could tell that was working."

After giving up a season high 84 points to Purdue, Penn State has locked down and then some. In their past two outings, the Lady Lions have held opponents under 55 points in back-to-back games for the first time all season while forcing a combined 40 turnovers.

While their zone defense has been thriving most notably, head coach Coquese Washington doesn't believe a certain scheme is the reason why they are playing improved. It's the increased focus on team defense.

"We can defend when we want to," Washington said. "When we are really locked in defensively we can be really tough on that end of the floor. I think we are building our toughness and our character is growing."


Team defense has helped Penn State slow two of the Big Ten's better scorers in Ohio State's Ameryst Alston and Michigan State's Aerial Powers. Both players were held below their season averages against the Lady Lions, including Alston's lowest points output in conference play with just 12.

Wednesday when the Lady Lions face Indiana (15-3, 2-3) at the Bryce Jordan Center at 7 p.m., another versatile scorer will be at hand for Penn State to find a way to stop. Hoosiers freshman Larryn Brooks averages 17.8 points per game and is the pulse of her team's scoring attack.

"She's fearless and doesn't play like a freshman," said Washington of Brooks. "She has the full arsenal, She can shoot the three, has the pull-up [jump shot], can get to the rim and finish and is a pretty good passer. She's a really good player."

Now, however, the Lady Lions know what they have to do to stop a player like Brooks.

"Team defense," said East. "It's not just one person's goal to stop a particular person, it's to contain her and force her to a spot and the other players will help out."

Penn State's game plan will be no different than the previous two contests. Play team defense for a full 40 minutes and Washington believes the positive performances will continue.

"Last week hit it on the head for us that defense has to be the constant," she said. "If we can be tough defensively every night then I think we've got a shot to be competitive with every team in our conference."

Penn State will look to make it five straight wins over the Hoosiers tonight, before a nationally televised match up at home against Minnesota on Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS.

 

--LADY LIONS--

What To Watch: Penn State hosts Indiana

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team clamped down on defense last week and claimed a pair of victories to move into a tie for first place in the Big Ten. Tonight, the Lady Lions (13-4, 4-1) will host Indiana (15-3, 2-3) at the Bryce Jordan Center in a 7 p.m. contest.

GAME NOTES: host Indiana

Penn State can take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, if just for one night, as they are the only Wednesday night tip. They enter the contest with the Hoosiers in a three-way tie for first with Michigan and Michigan State. The Hoosier are still alive in the conference race, as well, sitting at 2-3, just a win away from moving into a tie for fifth.



Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Records Watch: Maggie Lucas is on the cusp of setting a couple of Penn State career records. She is 29 three pointers shy of Kelly Mazzante's (2001-04) school record of 357 and will need to make 2.5 per game to eclipse the record with just 12 guaranteed games left. She is also closing in you the career free throws made record and is just 47 charity points away from moving past Kahadeejah Herbert's record of 512 free throws set from 1982-85. The senior is currently averaging 5.4 free throws made per game in conference play and with 12 guaranteed games left in 2013-14, that would move her past the record in just nine games.

Amping Up the D: After allowing 84 points to Purdue on Jan. 12, Penn State head coach Coquese Washington said her defense was not where it needed to be. Fast forward 10 days and the Lady Lions are right back on the right side of the "D" fence. In their last two games, Penn State has held Ohio State to a season-low 42 points and limited Michigan State to just 54 points, 23 points below their season average.

Earning The Tie Breaker: Penn State currently sits in a three-way tie for the top spot in the Big Ten with Michigan and Michigan State at 4-1 in conference play. Also, with their win over Michigan State on Sunday, the Lady Lions now own the tie breaker with the Spartans, as that was their only meeting of the season. Penn State will play Michigan and Nebraska only once this season, too, playing in Lincoln and hosting the Wolverines in the season finale.

What To Watch For - Indiana

A Season to Remember: A program record 14-game winning streak started the season for the Hoosiers and their 15 wins are the most in a single season since the 2008-09 campaign. With 11 guaranteed games left on the schedule, the Hoosier are poised to collect just the second 20-win season since 1998-99. The Hoosiers also found themselves ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since Jan. 19, 1993. It was just the second time in school history Indiana found their name in the women's AP Top 25.

Freshman Five: On Jan. 19, Indiana outlasted Minnesota, 83-78, to claim an overtime victory and in that game, the Hoosier started five freshmen. Jenn Anderson, Taylor Agler, Larryn Brooks, Alexis Gassion and Lyndsay Leikem got the start in the contest and tallied 69 combined points. Freshman Karlee McBride came off the bench and added five points, giving rookies 74 of the team's 83 tallies.

Three Point Threat: Indiana will look to make their mark on the three point line, entering the contest ranked first in the Big Ten with 7.3 three point baskets made per game. The Hoosier have three of the top 12 individuals in three point field goal percentage in the conference and Larryn Brooks is making 2.1 triples per game. Eight different player have launched at least 25 three pointers through 18 games, while 12 players have attempted at least one three pointer and 11 have connected from distance.

--LADY LIONS--

Second Half Surge Pushes Lady Lions To Road Win

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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's not how you start; it's how you finish.

Taylor-Dara (5).jpegNo. 17/16 Penn State (13-4, 4-1 Big Ten) lived by those words during Sunday night's road contest against Big Ten opponent Michigan State (12-6, 4-1 Big Ten) as the Lady Lions used a second half surge to top the Spartans, 66-54.

Down seven points at the half, head coach Coquese Washington's adjustments in the locker room subsequently led to her Lady Lions outscoring the Spartans 39-20 in the second half en route to a challenging win away from home. 

"In the second half, especially in the first ten or twelve minutes of the half, we really limited their transition opportunities," said Washington. "That allowed us to set our defense and make them play against our half-court defense. That really was helpful for us."

Senior Dara Taylor headed the comeback for Penn State. The quick-footed guard tallied 12 of her

Game-high 18 points in the second half to lead the Blue and White to the come-from-behind win. 

"We shored some things up defensively, specifically in transition," said Taylor. "They got a lot of points out of transition in the first half, so we really focused on that and just execute offensively [in the second half]. Early on we were shooting a little too quickly, so we moved the ball to get to our second and third options and get some easy buckets."

Taylor, who registered 10 points from the free throw line over the course of the contest, was spot on about bearing down defensively in the second frame.

In the first half, Penn State allowed Michigan State to shoot 41.4% (12-of-29) from the field and 38.5% (5-of-13) from beyond the 3-point arc, leading to a halftime lead for the Spartans, 34-27.

"Defensively, we were just not matching up in transition," said Washington. "I felt like in the first half, we did a fair job of defending them in man-to-man. I felt like we had done a fair job of defending them in the half-court, but we had given them too many baskets in transition."

In the final 20 minutes of play Penn State showed a crowd of 9,232 fans inside the Breslin Center in East Lansing just how dominant they could be on the defensive side of the ball.

The Lady Lions held the Spartans to a paltry 23.5% (8-of-34) from the field and they didn't connect from downtown on six attempts to outscore Michigan State by 19 points in the frame.

"I thought if we could shore up some things defensively, if we could find our rhythm on offense and get some baskets in transition then we would be okay and that kind of happened for us the second half," said Washington.

Not only did Penn State tighten their play up defensively, but they also exhibited a well-balanced offensive attack to couple their strong second half defense.

Senior forward Ariel Edwards scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and roped in six rebounds. She managed to keep the deficit at only seven at halftime by scoring 11 of her points in the first 20 minutes of play.

"She's super versatile," said teammate Taylor. "She is a very tough matchup for a lot of defenses. She can push in transition, she can finish, she can shoot the jump shot, post up, and she can defend [everyone on the floor]. I think her confidence is continuing to grow. I think we are seeing that game in and game out."

Maggie Lucas added 16 more points for the Lady Lions, and freshman guard/forward Kaliyah Mitchell got into the action by notching six points and a career-high 10 boards.

"We are a young team, so coming in here we told them it was going to be a tough environment," said Taylor. "So coming in here and getting a win like this...it was a great win for us."

The Lady Lions will look to extend their winning streak to three games when they return to action at the Bryce Jordan Center Wednesday, January 22 at 7 p.m. against Big Ten foe Indiana.

 

--LADY LIONS--

 

 

What To Watch: Penn State at Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After two straight home games, the No. 17/16 Penn State women's basketball team will travel to Michigan State on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. The Lady Lions (12-4, 3-1) will travel to the Breslin Center to face the Spartans (12-5, 4-0) in their only meeting of the 2013-14 season.

GAME NOTES: at Michigan State

Penn State enters the contest sitting at 3-1 in the Big Ten Conference, which is currently tied for third, but can move into a tie for first in the conference with a win against Michigan State. Currently, the Spartans sit at 4-0 in conference play, while Michigan enters Sunday with no game to play and a 4-1 mark in the Big Ten.



Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Reaching Milestones: Head coach Coquese Washington claimed her 130th career head coaching win with a victory over Ohio State on Thursday, but the sideline boss can help the Lady Lions reach the programs 870th win if they can claim a win in East Lansing today.

Hitting the Boards: Penn State is giving up 39.0 rebounds per game to its opponent, ranking eighth in the Big Ten, but the Lady Lions are averaging 46.4 rebounds per game this season, which leads the conference. Talia East (7.1 rpg) and Tori Waldner (6.1 rpg) are both among the top-20 in the conference in rebounding. They will deal with Michigan State's Aerial Powers (8.0 rpg) and Annalise Pickrel (7.1) and the third ranked rebounding team in the Big Ten today.

Shutting Down the Buckeyes: The Lady Lions held Ohio State to a season-low 42 points on Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center and did it with defense. Penn State forced 22 turnovers and held the Buckeyes to just 29 percent shooting. They outscored the Buckeyes 34-18 in the paint and held Ohio State scoreless for 8:25 in the first half to take a lead into halftime.

What To Watch For - Michigan State

The Last Unbeaten: Michigan State enters today's contest as the only unbeaten team in conference play. The Spartans have handed Michigan and Nebraska their only losses to open up Big Ten play, while also taking down Iowa and Minnesota to improve to 4-0. Overall, Michigan State is 12-5, with three of those losses coming against teams that were ranked or receiving votes at the time of their meetings.

Shutting Down the Leader: The Spartans have been effective against the opposition's leading scorer over the last seven games. The seven team's leading scorers have combined to shoot 37.6% (41-for-109), while averaging 12.5 points, almost four points below their combined season averages (16.2). In conference play, MSU has faced the top-two scorers in the Big Ten. Minnesota's Rachel Banham (21.2) was held to 13 points on 6-for-19 shooting, while Nebraska's Jordan Hooper had 21 points, but only went 9-for-22 from the field.

She Powers the Spartans: Redshirt freshman Aerial Powers had to sit out the 2012-13 season due to injury, but has returned for the 2013-14 slate is leading the team with 14.0 points per game and has reached double figures 12 times. She also has four double-doubles and leads the team with 8.0 rebounds per game and 34 steals.

--LADY LIONS--

Defense Leads Lady Lions Past Buckeyes

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a double-digit loss to Purdue where Penn State (12-4, 3-1) allowed its most points all season, Coquese Washington stressed the improvement of her defense in all facets against Ohio State (12-8, 2-2).

Taylor-Dara (4).jpegAfter a dominating 66-42 win over the Buckeye's where the Lady Lions held Ohio State to just five offensive rebounds and marked the lowest point total an opponent has scored against Penn State, it's safe to say an improvement was made on Thursday in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Thursday's stout defensive effort started with rebounding for Penn State. The Lady Lions out rebounded the Buckeyes 54-36, including 34 defensive rebounds. Ariel Edwards led the way with 10 total rebounds while Talia East and Alex Harris tallied nine and eight, respectively. The performance was satisfying for Penn State after a week of practice focusing on limiting the opponent's second chances.

"We talked about it in practice and emphasized how important it is for everyone to get in there and rebound," Washington said. "When you have numerous people who do a good job crashing the glass you can just assume somebody else is going to get the rebound and when you're tall you can sometimes forget to use your fundamentals in terms of boxing out, but we didn't do that tonight. We were really aggressive going after the ball and that helped us."

Combined with the strong rebounding performance from Penn State was forcing 22 Buckeye turnovers that turned into 17 Lady Lion points. Turnover numbers and rebound numbers were exactly where Penn State wanted to see them when developing the game plan prior to Thursday's match up.

Ohio State went on two major scoring droughts in each half, mainly because of the Lady Lion zone defense. In the first half Ohio State went over eight minutes without scoring leading to a 9-0 Penn State scoring run. Penn State started half number two without allowing the Buckeyes to score a point for the first 5:13 to open their lead to 17 points.

Senior guard Dara Taylor credited Penn State's zone defense and their versatility as to why they had such a strong defensive performance.

"I think we have a lot of different weapons on this team and I think with the zone, we can come at you with a lot of height, a lot of length, a lot of speed and athleticism," said Taylor. "That means we can get out to shooters and stop dribble penetration. I think we are so versatile in it that it's pretty difficult for teams to score."

Another promising sign was Penn State's ability to stop Ohio State's leading scorer Ameryst Alston who entered the contest averaging 16.9 points per game and was coming off a 29-point performance in her last outing against No. 22 Indiana. Alston tallied just 12 points Thursday night, her lowest point total through four conference games.

With an abundance of great scorers in the Big Ten, Washington will use her team's play against Alston as a teaching point moving forward.

"Absolutely," Washington said when asked if she would look back to her team's play on Alston in the future. "We have got to lock in on the best players in this conference and we've got to make it tough for them to get good looks and we've got some good players and they're going to make some tough plays."

Penn State will be up to another tough task when they travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State on Sunday, Jan. 19 on ESPN2 at 5 p.m.. The Spartans feature two lethal scorers in Aerial Powers and Annalise Pickrel, who average 14.0 and 13.8 points per game respectively.

 

--LADY LIONS--

GAME BLOG: Lady Lions host Ohio State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the No. 17/16 Penn State women's basketball contest against Ohio State on Thursday, Jan. 16 inside the Bryce Jordan Center at 7 p.m. 

BLOG: What to Watch   BLOG: Whitted Born into Basketball  |  GAME NOTES: Ohio State

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.