Saturday, March 29
Friday, March 28
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Throughout the 2014 NCAA Tournament you can follow along with all of the
happenings and latest news here in the Tournament Headquarters as the Lady
Lions continue their quest for the programs second trip to the Women's Final
The GoPSUsports.com blog team will keep you up-to-date with continued coverage of the team from opening round matchup with Wichita State through the end of their stay in 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Check back often as the coverage is updated.
Wednesday, March 19 Feature Story | First Round Game
Friday, March 21 Feature StorySaturday, March 22 Feature Story
Sunday, March 23 What to Watch | In-Game Blog | Game RecapVIDEO: Postgame Locker RoomVIDEO: Postgame Press ConferenceFeature StoryVIDEO: Practice Day PlayersVIDEO: Penn State Press ConferenceVIDEO: Florida Press ConferenceFeature StoryWhat to WatchIn-Game BlogGame RecapVIDEO: Inside the Locker RoomVIDEO: Penn State PostgameVIDEO: Florida PostgameSweet 16 Photo BlogFeature StoryVIDEO: Lady Lions Travel DayFeature StoryVIDEO: Practice Sights and SoundVIDEO: Scouting ReportVIDEO: Practice Day InterviewsVIDEO: Strength Coach Brad Pantall
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There aren't many defenses that can stop Maggie Lucas
from scoring, but when the Penn State women's basketball senior was asked how
she would describe her game on the court, it was as if she was playing 1-on-5.
"I don't know," said Lucas. "I have no idea."
Knowing Lucas, she would find a way to score if faced with the abovementioned task, but in this case we asked her teammates and coaches to describe the senior's game and got a variety of responses.
Adjectives like dedicated, fiery, intelligent and passionate, but one word that stood out above all: competitive.
On the court, Lucas' competitiveness has been a big reason that Penn State has ascended to its current heights, but she won't take any credit for that. She just flashes a smile and shrugs her shoulders. A far cry from the arm waving protagonist that took the court vs. Florida in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
"That is how I have been my whole life," said Lucas. "I've always been pretty fiery [as a player]. Growing up with my older brothers, we have always been super competitive. When I get fired up during a game it is all in the heat of the moment and it's fun."
That spirit of a performer has always been a part of her, just as fellow senior Dara Taylor, who played AAU basketball with Lucas for six years and has been her teammate for the past four seasons, as well.
"She's been like that since she was 11 years old," Taylor said. "She has always been the talkative, outgoing, energetic type and I have been the calm, cerebral one that brings everyone together. She likes chest bumps and getting the crowd hyped, I like high fives and a pat on the back."
That complement of leadership styles is something that helps Penn State on the court. For every time that Lucas got the crowd amped up after a one of her Big Ten record 365 three point baskets, Taylor was there with a level headedness that refocused the team.
Lucas isn't all three pointers, however, and nothing about her is hype.
With a wrap on her left wrist and her team leading by 20 points with less than five minutes to play on Tuesday against the Gators, Lucas poked the ball loose from Jaterra Bonds and then hit the floor to collect the loose ball. She latched on and turned left and right trying to find a teammate to outlet the ball to and start the fast break.
"She is one of the most competitive players you will ever come across," said assistant coach Fred Chmiel. "She is especially intense on the defensive end, which can sometimes be overlooked in her game. She gets a lot of loose balls and steals because she is a smart player. She knows that is her way of getting some open looks and easy baskets in transition."
The Narberth, Pa. native stepped onto the University Park campus as a scorer and according to her head coach Coquese Washington teams knew Lucas was a scoring threat before she even played a collegiate game. One thing that Washington might not have known was the work ethic that Lucas would bring with her.
That effort doesn't just show up in the games, either. Only once have I ever seen her beat onto the floor during pregame, where she puts up more shots than most teams take in a single game, and I am pretty sure Lucas has never been beat into the practice gym inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
Lucas takes pride in every part of her game and works on it throughout the season and in the off season.
Prior to her senior campaign she worked on her ball handling. She is also a tireless worker at the free throw stripe, admitting she likes to put up at between 100 and 200 free throws a day between drills so that she is tired and those free throws are 'more game like.'
"She wasn't going to let anyone put her in a box [as a player]," said Taylor. "You can see that from when she got to college to where she is now. Everyone knew she could score. They knew she could catch and shoot, but she worked hard to become a player that can put the ball on the floor and create her own shot. She wants to be the best at everything; on defense, in transition, pulling up or in the post."
That's the reason she's the only player in NCAA women's basketball history - and one of only three college basketball players ever - to average 20 points per game and shoot better than 94.9 percent from the free throw stripe. She is also one of just six Big Ten women's basketball players to accumulate 2,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists and 200 steals in a career.
Her desire to improve has helped her score 2,504 points, grab 536 rebounds, hand out 285 assists and amass 235 steals and is a major reason that Lucas is the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and a consensus All-American.
"Her skill level has gone up each season," said Chmiel. "She worked on her ball handling this summer and that has come a long way [in her career]. She's always been an intelligent player, a basketball savant. She's great at seeing the court, finding open players and handling the speed and pressure of the game."
From her teammates and coaches to opposing players to the fans in the seats, it is clear that Lucas is a complete basketball player with a will to win.
She wants to beat you off the bus so she can beat you into the arena. Then, after she beats you in the gym - which she has done 101 times in 131 career games - she is going to beat you back onto the bus. If you make a two, she wants to hit a three. You hit a three and she wants to go for the four-point play.
That desire to be the best is one reason that Chmiel says being a part of the maturation of Lucas as a player and a person has been so much fun.
"It's been one of the best coaching experiences of my life," said Chmiel. "To be able to work with her and watch her grow as a player, competitor and a person has been amazing. I know she has said some nice things about me, but I've been blessed to work with her, too."
Next time she is asked to describe her game, Lucas can just use one of the words from her peers, but knowing her she will probably just flash a smile and shrug her shoulders.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team traveled to Palo
Alto, Calif. to prepare for their Sweet 16 matchup with No. 2 seed Stanford on
Sunday, March 30 at Maples Pavilion. We caught up with some of the travel party
and here is what they had to say about the trip.
Keep up with all of the action from the Lady Lions' NCAA Tournament run on our Tournament Headquarters by clicking here.
By Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four years ago three current Penn State Lady Lions were in this same exact position they faced Tuesday night: on the brink of the Sweet 16 and home court second round game standing in the way.
In 2010, the Lady Lions fell to DePaul, forever forging an unpleasant memory in the brains of then Lady Lion freshmen Maggie Lucas, Talia East and Ariel Edwards.
Prior to the 2013-14 season, that group knew they would get a chance at redemption and they seized that opportunity on Tuesday night against No. 11 seed Florida.
The No. 3 seed Lady Lions topped the Gators, 81-63, to clinch the program's 13th trip to the Sweet 16 and in the most fitting fashion it was Lucas, East and Edwards, as well as transfer and fellow senior Dara Taylor that led the way.
"It means the world," Lucas said of advancing to the Sweet 16. "We're just so excited about this win and to be able to share it with our fans. I think back to my freshman year and it's just a whole lot better of a feeling to advance. I'm very excited."
In their last game at the Bryce Jordan Center, those seniors left a lasting image.
Lucas scored 22 points and made four three pointers. She pumped up the crowd and played with the raw emotion that only she can bring to the floor.
Taylor added 22 points of her own, four assists and two steals while being the catalyst of a Penn State defense that forced 20 Florida turnovers. She was a flash of speed that even the quick footed Gators couldn't contain.
Edwards shot efficiently from the floor, per usual, going 6-for-12 from the field and tallying 18 points and East notched nine points and seven rebounds. While both posing major matchup problems for the smaller Florida lineup.
Penn State won the game exactly the way they wanted to, starting from the defensive end. Not only did they force 20 Florida turnovers, but they converted them into 33 points. That's exactly how Coquese Washington wanted to win the game.
It couldn't have been any better of a performance from Washington's four seniors and it produced an emotional scene after the game.
"It's not bittersweet," Washington said when asked about the final home contest for her seniors. "It's just sweet. It's really, really, really sweet. It's like dark chocolate with caramel sweet.
"I'm happy for them. Their freshman year we lost in the second round on a last second play. They have really used that moment and that feeling from their freshman year. That was motivation for them to get better and to improve and to elevate the program.
The moment was one to relish for Washington, her staff and all of the Lady Lion players.
"To come full circle your senior year and have that same moment because what we just witnessed, is a really good way to close your playing at home and playing in this arena."
It was even more of a special night for Dara Taylor who fit right into this senior class upon transferring and perhaps in the most important game of her career, had a career day, literally.
Taylor's 22 points are the most of her career and also gave her 500 career assists between her time at Penn State and Maryland.. Taylor watched two NCAA tournaments without being a key contributor, one at Maryland as a freshman and Penn State's Sweet 16 berth while she sat out during the 2011-2012 season.
Now, she finally was a main contributor and a main reason why her team will be in Palo Alto to play Stanford next weekend.
"It's an amazing feeling," Taylor said. "When they went to the Sweet 16 two years ago, I actually wasn't playing, so this will be my first Sweet 16 and I'm really excited. Since I stepped on campus, to see how hard we've all worked and to see it all come together at this point is really amazing."
The Lady Lions now have the chance to carry on that momentum and get a marquee program win on Sunday against Stanford in the Cardinal's home gym at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Starting games strong and finishing games strong has been a focal point all season long for Penn State women's basketball head coach Coquese Washington.
Last night the No. 3 seed Lady Lions (24-7) listened and executed. Penn State played a well-balanced and full 40 minutes to chomp the No. 11 seed Florida Gators (20-13), 83-61, at the Bryce Jordan Center to advance to the Sweet 16 for the 13th time in program history.
"One of the things that has been really good about this team is that they embrace and play in the moment," said Washington. "So tonight, I think they were really focused on executing the game plan."
After both teams took the first few minutes of play to settle in to the NCAA Tournament second round matchup, Penn State caught fire, going on a 13-2 run to open up a commanding 17-4 lead with just over 12 minutes left in the first half.
Defense, which was an emphasis for the Lady Lions going into the game against a quick Gators team, was the catalyst for Penn State's early run. The Blue and White scored 11 points off of five turnovers during that stretch.
"We wanted to get as many [points off turnovers] as we could get," said Washington. "We didn't put a number on it...We just wanted to be active defensively, contest shots, and make them play faster than maybe they wanted to play. Some nights that results in turnovers; other nights it just results in missed shots. Tonight it resulted in turnovers because we had active hands, and that helped us get points in transition."
Senior guard Dara Taylor was a big reason why the Blue and White led, 43-32, at the half. She scored nine of her 22 points through 20 minutes of play to pace the Lady Lions.
"I think our defense played a big part in [my scoring]," said Taylor. "We were able to get out in transition early and my teammates found me in the open floor. They ran the floor hard and I was able to get some easy buckets early and it kind of just flowed after that."
Penn State started the second half where they left off in the first half. The Lady Lions went on a 17-4 run to lead by 24 points, 60-36, with under 15 minutes to play.
Big Ten Player of the Year Maggie Lucas finished with 22 tallies, nine of which came in the second half, but it was her team's defense that impressed her most.
"I felt like everyone was very active defensively and really embraced their role this game of defending hard," said Lucas. "We were really focused on transition defense and I thought everybody down the line did a great job tonight and I'm really proud of my teammates."
However, after going up by 28 points, the Gators used a 17-4 run to cut Penn State's lead to 73-58.
"I thought our defense was pretty good and the way we wanted it to be about 35 to 36 minutes of the game and that was enough," said Washington. "They went on a 17-4 run in the middle of the second half and we kind of lost our poise at that point. We got it back and that's what is important."
Seniors Ariel Edwards and Talia East added 18 and nine points, respectively, as the four Lady Lion seniors combined to score 71 out of the team's 83 total points.
More importantly, the Lady Lions won the transition game, outscoring the Gators 33-11 in points off turnovers and 19-9 in fast break points.
"I think it's probably the most complete game we've played all season in terms of beginning to end effort and focus," said Washington. We were good a t executing what we wanted to do and I'm really proud of the team that they were able to do that in this moment and in this environment."
With the win, Penn State advances to the Sweet 16 to face the No. 2 seed Stanford Cardinal (31-3) in Palo Alto, Calif. Tip-off is slated for 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the No. 14/15 Penn
State women's basketball NCAA second round contest against Florida on Tuesday,
March 25 inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
BLOG: What to Watch | BLOG: Lions Prep For Gators Chomp | BLOG: Tournament Headquarters
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