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What To Watch: Penn State vs. Iowa

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After finishing a tough non-conference schedule that featured three ranked opponents with a strong 9-3 record, No. 17/15 Penn State (9-3, 0-0) will head to Iowa City to open Big Ten play against No. 23/22 (12-3, 0-1) Iowa Sunday at 3 p.m.

Iowa has entered the Associated Press and USA Today top 25 polls, but is coming off an 86-84 loss in its conference opener at Indiana on Jan. 2. Penn State will return to action for the first time since its 70-56 win over Hartford on Dec. 29.

Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Opening B1G: In the past five years Penn State is 4-1 in Big Ten season openers, with its only loss coming in 2011-12 when Nebraska topped the Lady Lions 71-63 in Lincoln. That 4-1 record includes a 77-73 overtime Penn State win against Iowa to open the 2009-10 conference schedule.

Road Block: Scoring inside hasn't come easy for Lady Lion opponents this season. Penn State has 70 blocks and averages 5.9 blocks per game through 12 games in the 2013-14 campaign, ranking 11th in NCAA Division I and second in the Big Ten behind Northwestern. Post players Talia East and Tori Waldner have led the way blocking shots as both players have moved inside the Top 20 in program history in career blocks.

Balancing Act: Six Lady Lions had five or more points in the final non-conference game of the season against Hartford. Scoring leaders Maggie Lucas and Ariel Edwards continued their torrid scoring output with 18 and 15 points respectively. Dara Taylor, Tori Waldner, Kaliyah Mitchell and Peyton Whitted combined for 25 points to provide multiple scoring options for Penn State. The Lady Lions have only lost once this season when six or more players have tallied more than five points.

What To Watch For - Iowa

Lethal Logic: Hawkeye junior guard Samantha Logic is the X-factor for Iowa as she leads the team in scoring (14.9), rebounds (6.7), assists (6.6) and steals (1.8). Logic has performed at a high level against top opponents this season scoring 26 points against current No. 14/12 Colorado and 14 points against current No. 24/22 Syracuse.

Supporting Cast: Logic isn't the only Hawkeye that can light up the scoring column, as juniors Melissa Dixon and Bethany Doolittle average 14.8 and 13.9 points, respectively. The guard-center combo proved they could score against the best with 32 combined points against Syracuse in a 97-91 win.

Taming The Lady Lions: Iowa hasn't beaten Penn State since the 2009-10 season when the Hawkeyes topped Penn State, 82-75, in the Big Ten Tournament. Additionally, despite an 11-8 record at home against the Lady Lions, Iowa is 0-3 in the last three matchups at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Penn State has fared well away from home this season with a 3-1 record. Iowa went 8-0 in Iowa City in non-conference play.




Lady Lions Have Defensive State of Mind

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By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State Lady Lions (9-3) prepare for their Big Ten conference regular season opener against Iowa (12-3) on the road tomorrow, let's take a moment to examine how dazzling Coquese Washington's Lady Lions have performed on the defensive side of the ball thus far this season.

Waldner-Tori.jpegThrough 12 games the Lady Lions are on pace to break a handful of defensive-related school records. Currently, the record for lowest opponent field goal percentage in a season is .358 set during the 2011-12 season. However, this year's squad is on pace to shatter that record, holding their opponents to a paltry .341 shooting percentage through 12 games.

"Our size has been helpful for us and has allowed us to mix it up defensively," said Washington. "We have been able to play a little bit more zone than we've played in years past. That's helped us contest more shots and make people take some tougher shots. I think our size and the fact that we can play a little zone both have something to do with it [defensive success]."

Size down low certainly creates problems for the opposition, but having athletic bigs has allowed Washington to explore several different defensive looks. Having options while not handling the ball has allowed this Lady Lions team to consistently catch their opponents off-guard.

Speaking of an athletic frontcourt, junior Tori Waldner and senior Talia East have been the two driving forces in charge of fueling this defensive state of mind. Not only have they provided constant defensive sparks with their shot-blocking abilities, but they have also dispensed their experience onto the freshmen players.

"Tori and Talia have both been pretty effective at blocking shots, contesting shots and especially creating second chance opportunities when we're on offense," said Washington. "Their contributions on the defensive end have been really important and key for us this year."

Both East and Waldner rank among the school leaders in blocking shots, with Waldner blocking at least one shot in each the last 11 games.

The duo has acted as twin towers in the lane this season. East is now sitting in 15th place in school history with 72 blocks, while Waldner is tied for 16th place with 68 swats in three seasons.

It is safe to say that the occasional transition from man-to-man to zone has aided the high block tallies and strong defensive numbers.

What zone allows Washington to expose are the opponents' offensive weaknesses. Zone restricts the opposition in a couple of ways. First, it makes scoring easy layups inside very difficult. Second, the zone slows down the pace of the game and allows the defense, not the offense, to control the tempo.

And, when the opposition beats the zone with timely passing and strong perimeter shooting, Washington has strong guard play to transition back and confuse the opposing offense.

Among the Lady Lions' success on defense is the fact that no team has shot better than 45% this season. The only team to shoot better than 40% was top-ranked UConn, which connected on 43.9% of its shots.

A key to holding opponents to such a low percentage from the field circles around the leadership of the seniors on this young team

"[The seniors] are really good at helping [the freshmen] understand perspective, especially with the conference teams," said Washington. "They help provide the context that the freshmen need."

Although Washington noted the importance of the talented freshmen gaining "perspective" from the seniors, she stressed that it is up to each individual player to learn from each and every conference game.

"There's nothing like experience," said Washington. "I heard all these stories about how beautiful the Eifel Tower was, but when I went and saw it for myself it was a much different experience."

What Washington means is the seniors can only guide the freshmen in preparation for conference play so much. Until the first-year players actually experience it, they will not fully understand the competitiveness the conference embodies.

Big Ten play commences tomorrow for the Lady Lions, but that won't stop them from continuing to chase defensive records. Look for Washington to continue to rotate between man and zone defense in an effort to hamper opposing offenses.

The No. 17/15 Lady Lions will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, tomorrow carrying their defensive state of mind and their luggage as they get set to take on the No. 23/22 Hawkeyes at 3 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.






Balanced Offensive Attack Leads Lady Lions To Victory

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By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite playing for the first time in seven days, the Lady Lions had no problems shaking off the holiday rust against Hartford on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Thanks to a well-balanced offensive attack, Penn State stormed past the Hawks, 70-56, to close out its non-conference schedule.

Edwards-Ariel (3).jpegAlthough the Lady Lions were held without a three-pointer (0-for-8) for the first time since November 30, 2011 - a span of 73 games - Coquese Washington received offensive contributions from 10 of her players, five of whom tallied six or more points.

"We're getting great contributions from our bench," said senior guard Maggie Lucas. "I think our starting five is continuing to gel every game. [Dara Taylor] played well and Ariel [Edwards] played well. We're getting a lot of contributions from a lot of people."

The challenging non-conference slate has provided several opportunities of growth for Washington's young squad. From where this Penn State team began, to where they are now, it is clear to Washington that her team is starting to mesh into a dangerous unit.

However, she still feels that this team is smart enough, and talented enough, to continue to make strides on the hardwood.

"I thought we could've had more points if we converted more second chance shots," said Washington. "I thought we got a lot of shots around the basket that didn't fall. We missed quite a few layups and shots in the paint. I think if we made those, we could've had 10 or 12 more points."

Led by seniors Maggie Lucas and Ariel Edwards, who together combined for 33 points, the Lady Lions shot a favorable 28-for-65 from the field (43.1 percent).

While Edwards notched 13 of her 15 points in the first half on 5-of-7 shooting, Lucas was the go-to scorer in the second half, chalking up 10 of her 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

"I feel like that's kind of what our team does," said senior forward Ariel Edwards. "Anyone on our team has the ability to score points. I think it just happened in that first half that I was able to get some points and then Maggie took over in the second half."

With the win the Lady Lions notched their fourth consecutive season with at least nine non-conference victories, extending the Blue and White's season record to 9-3.

Moving forward, Washington and her Lady Lions have their minds set on the start of the Big Ten regular season.

"The thing about Big Ten play is there are a lot of different styles that we're going to see," said Washington. "Some play faster, some play slower. Some are more defensive minded. For us, it's going to be a matter of focus and discipline to execute the game plan that we need to do on a nightly basis."

Penn State opens Big Ten play with a tough road test against Iowa on Sunday, January 5. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. in Iowa City.

"We're very excited for Big Ten play," said Edwards. "It's something to look forward to. It's our [the seniors] last go around. We're excited to get into that part of our season."



What To Watch: Penn State hosts Hartford

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team will close out their non-conference schedule on Sunday, Dec. 29 with a 2 p.m. contest vs. Hartford. The Lady Lions (8-3) enter the weekend ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll and No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and will host the Hawks (3-9).

GAME NOTES: vs. Hartford

This will be the second meeting in program history, with Penn State claiming a 71-65 victory at the Caribbean Challenge in 2010. The Lady Lions hit 10 three-pointers in the contest. Maggie Lucas and Ariel Edwards both had solid games, with the then-freshmen duo netting 27 and 13 points, respectively.

Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Closing Non-Conference Play: Penn State will close out their non-conference schedule on the hardwood with today's contest vs. Hartford. The Lady Lions own a record of 25-2 over the past four seasons in non-conference home games. They are 5-2 in game played at the Bryce Jordan Center this season, with their two losses coming against No. 1 UConn and No. 5 Notre Dame.

Tori on the Block: We talked about junior Tori Waldner last prior to last weekend's contest vs. Alcorn State, but the junior turned in another solid effort against the Lady Braves. Waldner recorded her second straight game with double-digit rebounds - pulling down 10 boards vs. Alcorn State - and swatted four more shots to bring her season total to 20 blocks. She now has at least one block in 10 straight games.

Taylor Made: Senior guard Dara Taylor has been a big part of the Lady Lions early season success and an 8-3 record. The speedy point guard has topped her career-high in points twice this season, including a 20-point effort vs. Alcorn State last weekend, and has eight games with four-plus assists and seven games with three-or-more steals to help ignite Penn State's fast pace offense.

What To Watch For - Hartford

No Place Like the Road: Hartford has claimed all three of their victories on the road this season, while owning a 0-3 mark at home. The Hawks are 3-4 away from their on-campus arena, with wins over Loyola (Md.), Maine and Sacred Heart. There two highest scoring games - and only two 60-plus point games - have come on the road.

Freshmen Leading the Way: Like Penn State, Hartford is getting major contributions from their freshmen class. Rookies Deanna Mayza, Morgan Lumb and Alyssa Reaves have all led the team in scoring in at least one game. To date, the Hawks freshmen class has combined for over 40 percent of the Hawks points with Mayza (t-1st), Lumb (4th) and Reaves (5th) among the top-five leading scorers.

Thievery and Threes: Junior guard Amber Bepko is among the career leaders at Hartford in steals and three pointers made in her career. The junior needs 28 steals to crack the top-10 in all-time career steals and is among the top-10 in school history in three pointers made. She currently has 81 three point baskets which places her ninth all-time and 63 of her 98 field goal attempts have been from beyond the arch in 2013-14.



Taylor Leads Lady Lions Past Alcorn State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior point guard Dara Taylor had a feeling it was going to be a good afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center when her first two jump shot attempts went down on Sunday.

9562373.jpegThe Wilmington, Del., native knocked down the game's first two baskets, and Taylor did not look back from there.  She reached 20 points for the first time in her career on a red-hot 9-for-12 from the field.  Taylor also had seven steals and four assists in Penn State's 85-62 victory over Alcorn State.

"It doesn't feel any different than any other game. We were just focused on getting the win today," Taylor said.  "My shot felt good and I found some easy shots in transition...After my first two shots went in, I knew I was going to shoot the ball pretty decently today."

Head coach Coquese Washington liked Taylor's approach on the offense end of the floor.

"I thought she was very aggressive offensively and we like our players to be aggressive offensively," Washington said.  "I thought she kind of came out and set the tone for us being aggressive on the offensive end."

With the Big Ten season just around the corner, Washington said that Sunday's victory provided a great opportunity to get several younger players significant minutes.  In all, 10 different Lions played 11 or more minutes in Sunday's game.

"Well, we did get to play a lot of our young kids, get them some experience that they sorely needed," Washington said.  "They sorely needed to be out there and play and get a sense of what it feels like on game day.  I think that contributed to the ebbs and flows of the game...The experience our young kids got is going to be valuable."

The Lady Lions head into the holiday week with an 8-3 mark.  Washington said she is pleased with the progress the Lions have made, but understands there is a lot of room for improvement.  Nonetheless, optimism is high as the Big Ten season looms.

"Moving forward, I think there are a lot of things we can get better at," said Washington.  "We're making steps but we have a lot of steps yet to make and we have to develop a level of consistency, a level of individual consistency and team consistency that has to improve as we move into conference play."

Penn State will get three days off around the Christmas holiday before getting back to work on Thursday in preparation for the final non-conference game of the season against Hartford on Dec. 29.  Big Ten play begins on Jan. 5 at Iowa.

What To Watch: Penn State hosts Alcorn State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team continues their homestand on Sunday, Dec. 22 with an 11 a.m. contest vs. Alcorn State. The Lady Lions (7-3) enter the weekend ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll and No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and will host the Lady Braves (1-8), who enter the contest after a 63-50 loss at Louisiana-Lafayette on Thursday evening.

GAME NOTES: Alcorn State

Penn State will meet the Lady Braves for the first time in program history and own a 4-0 record against teams in the current alignment of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Penn State has defeated Alabama A&M, Jackson State and twice toppled Prairie View A&M.

Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Building Momentum: Penn State rebounded from a loss at South Dakota State with a victory over then-No. 20/24 Texas A&M last week and will have to more games before starting Big Ten play on Sunday, Jan. 5. The Lady Lions will host Alcorn State today before taking a quick holiday break and returning to Happy Valley for a Dec. 29 bout with Hartford.

Waldner Protecting the Paint: Junior forward Tori Waldner has been a force in the paint for the Blue and White in 2013-14 and had one of her best performances against Texas A&M last Sunday. The Milton, Ga. Native pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds and blocked three shots. On the season, Waldner now has a team-best 16 blocks - including at least one block in nine straight games - and currently ranks second on the team with 6.2 rebounds per game.

Lucas Continues Climb: Senior guard Maggie Lucas continues her ascent towards the top of the Penn State scoring charts. Lucas became the fifth player in school history to reach the 2,000-point plateau and moved into third place in school history with 2,054 career points after a 26-point effort vs. Texas A&M. She is now 199 points shy of moving into the No. 2 spot, currently held by Susan Robinson with 2,253 points.

What To Watch For - Alcorn State

Another New Face: Alcorn State will be meeting the Lady Lions for the first time in program history on Sunday in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Lady Braves have already played four opponents for the first time in program history, defeating Nebraska-Omaha and dropping games to Central Arkansas, James Madison and East Carolina.

Leading the Lady Braves: Senior Tierro Frost is the top scorer for the Lady Braves this season, entering Sunday's matchup averaging 15.4 points per contest. She is the only ASU player averaging in double figures, with Ashtin NcNichols averaging 9.0 points in just two games played. Frost also leads the team in assists (9) and steals (13), while sitting second on the squad in rebounds (44) and blocked shots (5).

Calling Flint Home: The birthplace of General Motors, Flint, Mich. is also home to Penn State head coach Coquese Washington and Alcorn State head coach Tonya Edwards. Edwards and Washington have met as opponents at every level, playing high school basketball against one another, meeting in college, and playing vs. each other in both the ABL and WNBA. Edwards played her high school basketball at Northwestern and attended the University of Tennessee, while Washington prepped at Central High School and played collegiately for Notre Dame. The two met only once in college, a 77-54 victory for the senior Edwards' No. 1 Lady Vols over the freshman Washington's Fighting Irish.

13-12-22-WBB-Alcorn State.jpg


Washington Gets Recognition From Nation's Best

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As Penn State Lady Lion basketball has returned to national recognition, a lot of focus has been on the job Coquese Washington has done during her seven-year tenure.

Washington-Coquese (5).jpegWashington's name has vaulted into the group of up-and-coming college head coaches over the past two season and some current elite women's basketball coaches shared that sentiment earlier this year.

The Notre Dame graduate began her collegiate head coaching career at Penn State in 2007 and has made three NCAA tournament appearances and won two regular season Big Ten Conference championships in the past three years.

"She's right on top of [her game]...she's the best young coach in the country," said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. "When a couple coaches retire, I think she's going to be the one [coach] that everyone looks to."

It all starts with recruiting for Washington, who has had three top-20 recruiting classes since 2008, including a top-10 ranked 2013 class. Washington has recruited players specific to the program's need and has developed a diverse group of stars during her time as head coach for the Blue and White.

Recruiting is where it all starts for elite programs according to legendary Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who said Washington has done a tremendous job in getting the right players to Penn State.

"I think Coquese has done a great job of recruiting to her style of play," he said. "That's probably one of the reasons why fans love coming to their [Penn State's] games. This is one of those places where you can be really successful and create a lot of excitement and get a lot of people from the community involved."

Washington has done just that especially during the past three seasons that have ended in NCAA tournament appearances. The annual "Pink Zone" game has attracted over 11,000 fans since 2011, including 14,173 in 2013.

She has also become active in the community with "Coquese's Drive" which raised over 18-thousand dollars for the Women's Resource Center in the sixth annual golf tournament.

Combine those efforts with her leadership, development of players and results on the court; it has been hard not to notice what the Penn State Lady Lion program has become over the recent years.

"There are probably twenty schools in the country that people think are really, really good and they're one of them," Auriemma said of Penn State.

Additionally, besides building one of the top programs in America, Washington has been very active in the women's basketball world as well. She currently resides as the Vice President/President-Elect for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and is on the board of directors of the NCAA Women's Basketball Issues Committee.

Her work at Penn State and in the realm of women's basketball has led many current coaches to believe Washington is the future of coaching in the sport.

"[Coquese] knows what's good for the game of women's basketball," said McGraw. "She can take her institutional hat off, which a lot of people can't do, and really think about of what's good for women's basketball and what we need for growth in the game.

"She's is going to be the best coaches in the country... she's the best young coach in the country right now. When a couple coaches retire, I think she's going to be the one that everyone looks at to lead the game."

Washington will enter her seventh Big Ten season on Jan. 5 at Iowa after the final non-conference games of the season with Alcorn State Sunday, Dec. 22 and Hartford on Sunday, Dec. 29.


Strong Second Half Leads Lady Lions Past Ranked Foe

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was classic Lady Lion basketball on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday, Dec. 15 as Penn State hosted then-No. 20/24 Texas A&M. The Lady Lions entered the contest ranked 12th in the NCAA and dominated the glass in the second half, played stifling defense and watched their best offensive scorer go to work in the scoring column culminating in a 66-58 win over the Aggies.

Lucas-Maggie (9).jpegPenn State started off hot in the first half opening the game with a 12-0 run with scoring from Lucas, Ariel Edwards and Dara Taylor. Texas A&M then found a way to negate their 0-for-13 shooting start and made a run midway through to half to take a 27-19 lead. The Lady Lions countered with an 11-1 run to take a 30-28 lead into the break.

The second half was where things got rolling for Penn State and Lucas led the way scoring nine of the first 11 points of the half. Lucas added 10 more points in her 17-point second half and 27-point afternoon, guiding Penn State past a tough Aggie team.

"I thought she got some pretty good looks," said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. "Maggie [Lucas] picked up the load. She made some really good shots and she made some tough shots. She did a good job reading the defense to figure out where her openings were going to be."

For Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair, Lucas' performance was no surprise. The 11th year head coach spoke highly of Lucas in the postgame press conference and even said he used her as an example to his players before the game.

"I told my kids before shoot around, I said 'Watch'," Blair said referencing Lucas. "An hour and thirty minutes before the game, Maggie Lucas was on the floor shooting. That's what the great ones do. The good ones talk about it, the great ones find the gym and get their mojo working."

Lucas' mojo was working, especially in the second half. She didn't do it alone though, as the Penn State rebounding attack improved greatly in the final 20 minutes of play. Texas A&M tallied just three offensive rebounds in the half, compared to 13 in the first half.

With Talia East in foul trouble, Tori Waldner and Edwards combined for eight of Penn State's 16 defensive rebounds shutting Texas A&M out of any second-chance opportunities. Because of the zone Washington uses, defensive rebounding can be hard to come by because of the gaps it creates, but she has stressed her team has to find a way to counter that and she thought they did a good job of doing so in the second half.

"It takes the team a while to figure out where the rebounds were going to come from and how people are crashing the boards during a game," said Washington.  "I thought the second half we did a much better job of rebounding out of the zone. Tori [Waldner], in particular, just did a much better job of attacking the backboard."

A strong second half led to the win against Texas A&M Sunday, but still has Washington searching for a complete two-halve performance with just two non-conference games remaining before their Big Ten opener against Iowa on Jan. 5.

However, Washington did say she thought the win Sunday was certainly a step in the right direction.

"We did a better job today in putting two halves together but we aren't quite there yet," she said. "That's the thing we have to do. I think the more experience we get with this team and this unit playing together, that will come."

Penn State hosts Alcorn State on Dec. 22 and Hartford on Dec. 29 to cap the 2013 non-conference season. Both games are at the Bryce Jordan Center.



GAME BLOG: Lady Lions host Texas A&M

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on for the Penn State women's basketball contest against No. 20/24 Texas A&M on Sunday, Dec. 15 inside the Bryce Jordan Center. 

BLOG: What to Watch  |  BLOG: Patience Leads East to Feature Role  |  GAME NOTES: Texas A&M

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.


What To Watch: Penn State hosts Texas A&M

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team returns home to start a three-game homestand on Sunday (Dec. 15) against Texas A&M. The No. 12/12 Lady Lions (6-3) welcome No. 20/24 Aggies (5-2) to the Bryce Jordan Center for a 2 p.m. tipoff.


Penn State trailed by 20 points at halftime on Wednesday at South Dakota State, but rallied in the second half to pull within one point, however, the Jackrabbits held on down the stretch for an 83-79 victory. Three players reached double figures for Penn State, with Ariel Edwards netting 24 points, Maggie Lucas scoring 20 points and Dara Taylor adding 19.

The all-time series is tied (1-1), with Penn State snapping Texas A&M's long home court non-conference winning streak last season and the Aggies winning the first meeting in 2008 at the Timeout 4 HIV/AIDS Tournament in Malibu.

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Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Bouncing Back Under Washington: Penn State has not lost consecutive games since dropping back-to-back Big Ten contests during the 2011-12 season. At that time, Penn State lost at Ohio State, 89-67, before falling to Purdue at home, 51-49, in February of 2012. The Lady Lions have followed up a loss with a win on 17 straight occasions, including this season vs. Bucknell and at Georgetown.

Edwards Goes for 24: Senior Ariel Edwards tied her career-high on Wednesday at South Dakota State by scoring 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting. The Elmont, N.Y. native, tied the mark she set last season against Detroit on Nov. 23, 2012 at the Radisson Hotel Chatsworth Thanksgiving Tournament. It is her third career 20-point game, with the other coming against St. Francis (23) in the 2013-14 season opener.

Home for the Holidays: Penn State will be at home for their next three games starting tonight against the Aggies. The Blue and White will host Alcorn State (12/22) before heading home for a quick holiday break. They will then welcome Hartford to the Bryce Jordan Center on Dec. 29 before hitting the road to begin Big Ten play on Jan. 5, 2014 at Iowa.

What To Watch For - Texas A&M

Looking for Revenge: This will be the second game in the home-and-home series, which began with a Penn State victory over Texas A&M last season at Reed Arena. The Lady Lions claimed a 63-58 decision to end the Aggies 58-game non-conference home winning streak that dated back to the 2003 season.

Limiting the Opposition: The Aggies are ranked 13th in the NCAA defensively, allowing 54.4 points per game, allowing only three opponents to crack the 60-point mark. The Aggies have limited two opponents to fewer than 40 points - Prairie View A&M (27) & San Diego State (35) - and also held North Texas to just 45 points.

Against the Rankings: Texas A&M has won their last three games against ranked opponents away from home and claimed four of their last five such contests. They also like playing the No. 12 team in the rankings, winning their last three contests vs. the 12th ranked team - defeating Oklahoma (2009-10) and twice beating Texas (2008-09 & 2009-10).