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GAME BLOG: Lady Lions host Iowa

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on for the No. 10/9 Penn State women's basketball contest against Iowa on Thursday, Feb. 6 inside the Bryce Jordan Center at 6 p.m.

BLOG: What to Watch  |  BLOG: Defense a Focus vs. High Scoring Hawkeyes

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What To Watch: Penn State hosts Iowa

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After surviving a pair of tough road contests last weekend at Purdue and Northwestern, Penn State (17-4, 8-1) returns home to face Iowa (17-6, 5-4) in a showdown of the top two scoring offense in the Big Ten.

BLOG: Defense a Focus vs. High Scoring Hawkeyes

The Lady Lions average 75.9 points per game and is almost five points shy of the Hawkeyes fast-paced offense that pours in 80.0 points per game. The defense also hold opponents under 70 points per game. Penn State allows just 64.6 points a contest, while Iowa allows 69.2 points a game.

Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Going for the Sweep: As the second half of the Big Ten schedule begins, Penn State will attempt to pick up their first series sweep of the 2013-14 season. Penn State won, 87-71, on Jan. 5 at Iowa to open Big Ten play and will be looking to improve on their 14-5 record all-time against Iowa at home. A sweep would give Penn State the tie breaker with the Hawkeyes, Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota.

Bench Delivers: Penn State's bench has been a major factor this season and was a difference maker in their 79-75 win at Northwestern on Sunday. The Wildcats bench gave them just 21 minutes of action (with 200 player minutes in a game), but did not register a point, attempted only one shot and grabbed two rebounds. The Lady Lions bench contributed 61 minutes, 21 points and 17 rebounds, led by 11 points and six rebounds from Peyton Whitted. The PSU bench has outscored the oppositions reserves on five times in Big Ten play.

At the Charity Stripe: Even after hitting just 8-of-21 free throws at Purdue, Penn State still ranks 15th in the NCAA with a 76.6 free throw percentage. Maggie Lucas currently sits atop the NCAA rankings with a 96.9 success rate at the charity stripe, while Ariel Edwards is also hitting over 81 percent of her freebies. Lucas ranks third among players with at least 2.5 made free throws per game with 125 made shots, trailing Eilise O'Connor (UMKC) and Amanda Hyde (IPFW), who has made 177 and 146 free throws, respectively.

What To Watch For - Iowa

B1G Scorers: Iowa paces the Big Ten in scoring at 80.0 point per game and has five players averaging at least 10 points in 2013-14. The Hawkeyes can score in the post with Bethany Doolittle, who leads the team with 15.4 points per game, but also can knock down the three point shot. Melissa Dixon has hit 60 three pointers this season, while Samantha Logic (20), Ally Disterhoft (23) and Theairra Taylor (24) have all knocked down at least 20 shots from distance this season.

Chasing a Legend: Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder is in her 30th season as collegiate head coach and is in her 14th season at the helm of the Hawkeyes. One more win for the Yellow and Black this season will move Bluder into a tie with C. Vivian Stringer for the most wins by a head coach in school history with 269 victories. Stringer win 269 games from 1983-95. Bluder is also one of just 13 active NCAA Division I coaches with 600 or more career coaching wins, owning a record of  624-305.

Large Margin Games: Iowa likes to put the ball in the basket, but they have also allowed the opposition to score at a good pace, as well. The Hawkeyes are 17-6 on the season and only three of those games have been within four points. Iowa is 1-2 in games decided by four or less points, but are 16-4 in games decided by six or more points. When the scoring margin is 20-plus, Iowa is a perfect 6-0 and the also haven't lost a game that has been within 6-9 points this season.


Defense a Focus vs. High Scoring Hawkeyes

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By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions have won six contests in a row and currently sit atop the Big Ten standings, but it is the Hawkeyes who have turned heads lately, averaging a conference-best 80.0 points per game.

East-Talia.jpegTonight, No. 10/9 Penn State (17-4, 8-1) will have another opportunity to shut down Iowa (17-6, 5-4) this season when the two teams tip off at 6 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Last time around, the Lady Lions handled the Hawkeyes scoring barrage, winning, 87-71, on the road in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. However, since losing its first two conference contests, Iowa has used a high-powered and efficient offensive attack to win its last five games.

"They [Iowa] are an outstanding scoring team, and they're capable of putting a lot of points up on the scoreboard," said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. "We've been doing a pretty decent job the last few games of focusing on defense, in particular, our transition defense."

Despite topping Iowa by 16 points back on Jan. 5, the Hawkeyes currently have five players who are averaging double figures. Preparation for such a balanced offensive front is integral for Penn State.

"It [Iowa's top offense] means that everyone has to defend," said Washington. "There's nobody that can fall asleep and rest on defense. If you fall asleep on them, you're giving up layups or you're giving up three point shots. When they've got five kids who can score, and score in double figures, everybody's got to be aware."

A big reason for Penn State's success this season, especially against Iowa, is their height. Forwards Talia East and Tori Waldner have been the catalysts of Penn State's interior game and they are a big reason why the Lady Lions lead the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 46.3 boards per game.

"They [Talia and Tori] are an extremely big part of our game plan," said Washington. "The impact that they have on the game defensively and from a rebounding perspective, along with scoring and using their size in the post is huge for us. We're certainly not where we are at this point without those two."

Last time out against Iowa, East notched her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Waldner added 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Even though Washington's posts found success in the previous contest against Iowa, East understands the competitiveness the conference embodies, as well as the importance of preparation.

"It's a completely new game," said East. "We know that we need to continue to be a presence and we know we need to have great defense because they can shoot the three really well. We know they play a smaller lineup, so our post players definitely have to play our game and play it well. We can't get in foul trouble, so we can continue and be on the court."

The "our game" that East referred to is what Washington's frontcourt has focused on for the majority of the season: force jump shots in the paint, avoid fouls and spring back in transition defense.

Following their bout against Iowa tonight, the Lady Lions will have just six more games left before the Big Ten Tournament. With that being said, Washington and her team are taking each game one step at a time.

"Just focusing on this game and this day, and executing the game plan, everything else will take care of itself," Washington said.

East echoed her coach's remark and even went a step further to explain as to why Washington has had such a positive impact on her players.

"Coquese has been so awesome in keeping us humble and keeping us focused on one game at a time," said East. "I can barely tell you who I'm playing at the end of this week or next week. Just focusing on the task at hand, and once you conquer that, on to the next one."




Timely Free Throws Push Lady Lions To Victory

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By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 13/12 Penn State (17-4, 8-1) earned its sixth straight conference win yesterday at Northwestern, but it wasn't easy as the Nittany Lions played a pair of close games on their Big Ten road trip.

Edwards-Ariel (4).jpegDespite leading by 13 points at the half, the Lady Lions had to thwart a strong comeback by Northwestern (14-8, 4-5) to win on the road in Evanston, Ill., 79-75. This coming after a three-point victory at Iowa, 78-75, on Thursday evening that helped keep their Big Ten road record unblemished.

The Lady Lions nearly wasted a 20-point lead, but it was timely free throw shooting that pushed the Blue and White to victory. Coquese Washington's squad finished 25-of-31 (80.6%) from the line against the Wildcats, after hitting just 8-of-21 from the line at Purdue.

"They're [our players] very competitive, and we're a good free throw shooting team," said Penn State assistant coach Kia Damon. "Our kids go to the free throw line thinking they can knock it down. They have a lot of confidence that they can."

Talia East came up big late in the contest. The senior forward hit two free throws and then registered a three-point play down the stretch to give the Lady Lions a 74-70 lead with just 1:15 left in regulation.

"What you saw today from Talia was an indicative of [our confidence from the free throw line]," Damon said.

However, it wasn't just East who was a beast from the charity stripe. Maggie Lucas was a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line en route to a team high 19 points, and freshman guard/forward Peyton Whitted notched a career-high 11 points while shooting 3-of-4 from the charity stripe.

"What you see from today's game is we executed offensively and defensively down to the wire and we were able to get to the free throw line and knock some free throws down," said Damon. "You can only gain confidence with that type of success."

Northwestern was certainly a challenge for the Lady Lions. Coming into the contest yesterday afternoon, the Wildcats had already tallied three wins over ranked opponents this season.

"They [Northwestern] were able to get out there in transition and get some easy buckets or either uncontested looks against our defense as we were in a scramble," Damon said.

Penn State's defensive scheme didn't really change from the first half to the second, but the Lady Lions ability to convert free throws late proved why they are the top team in the conference.

Senior Ariel Edwards nearly accumulated a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. She also managed to dish out three assists, grab two steals and finished 5-of-6 from the stripe.

"She [Ariel] gives us a big lift," said Damon. "She's a very versatile player and we know that she can impact us offensively and defensively from a number of categories. She takes pride and ownership in doing a good job with that. When you see her come out of games with those stat lines close to a double-double...that's just what she does. It's what she brings to the table."

Next up for the Lady Lions is a home bout against Big Ten foe Iowa (17-6, 5-4) this Thursday, Feb. 6. Tip off is set for 6 p.m., as Penn State will look to move its winning streak to seven games.

"Now that we're crossing over to the second half of Big Ten play we expect the games to be close," said Damon. "The Big Ten is very competitive."


What To Watch: Penn State at Northwestern

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team will look to move their winning streak to six games when they travel to Northwestern. The Lady Lions (16-4, 7-1) sit atop the Big Ten standings entering their 2 p.m. contest against the Wildcats (14-7, 4-4).

GAME NOTES: at Northwestern

Penn State grabbed a 75-72 victory at Purdue to improve their Big Ten record to 7-1, the only one-loss team in the conference, and are now 4-0 on the road in conference play this season.

Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Lucas Moves to No. 2: With 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting, senior Maggie Lucas moved into second on the Penn State career scoring list. The Narberth, Pa., native enters today's game with 2,259 points and trails only Kelly Mazzante's 2,919 career points, which also leads the Big Ten. Lucas sits in ninth on the Big Ten scoring list, passing Purdue's Shereka Wright (2,251 pts; 2001-04) and is just 26 point shy of Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen (2,285 pts; 2001-04).

Four in Double Figures: This season, Penn State has seen four players reach double figures in a game on six occasions. The Blue and White are 6-0 in those games, including a 75-72 victory at Purdue on Thursday night when Talia East, Ariel Edwards, Maggie Lucas and Dara Taylor all scored 10-plus points. The Lady Lions have had four players reach double-figures in wins over Bucknell, at Georgetown, vs. Indiana, at Iowa and St. Francis, along with the victory over the Boilermakers earlier this week.

Dishing Out Dimes: Senior Dara Taylor has handed out 18 assists in her last two games, including a 10-assist contest vs. Minnesota. She is averaging 4.8 assists per game this season and has 10 games with at least five assists in 2013-14. She has topped the 200 assist plateau for her Penn State career and is tied for 26th with 204 career helpers. She also has 14 games with 10-plus points.

What To Watch For - Northwestern

Playing the Rankings: Northwestern has three wins over ranked opponents this season and now have eight wins over ranked teams during the Joe McKeown era. The No. 12/13 Lady Lions will be the highest ranked team the Wildcats' have faced so far this year. Northwestern has defeated No. 25/25 DePaul, No. 21/20 Purdue and No. 21/18 Nebraska this season.

Coffey, Cohen Battling Inside: Northwestern has blocked 155 shots this season, averaging 7.4 swats per game, which tops the Big Ten. The duo of Nia Coffey and Alex Cohen have accounted for 92 of those blocks, with both moving into the top 10 on the Wildcats single season list. Cohen has swatted 48 shots and Coffey has added 44 blocks, with both playing in all 21 games. Lauren Douglas has also added 29 blocks this season for NU.

Returning Roser: Junior Karly Roser played in every game of her freshman and sophomore seasons, but the point guard has missed the first 20 games of this season due to injury. She returned on Thursday against Indiana and added five minutes on the bench with one rebound and one turnover. Last season, she averaged a team-high 35.6 minutes per game and led the team with 188 assists and 50 steals.


What To Watch: Penn State at Purdue

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team has been on a defensive tare over the past two weeks, thanks largely to their next opponent. The Lady Lions (15-4, 6-1) have won four straight and are atop the Big Ten standings entering their 6 p.m. contest at Purdue (15-5, 5-3).

BLOG: Lady Lions Ready For Rematch Versus Purdue

Penn State is the lone one loss team in the Big Ten, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Boilermakers on Jan. 12. Purdue scored an 84-74 win at the Bryce Jordan Center that day. The 84 points are the most allowed by Penn State all season and since then the Lady Lions have not allowed an opponent to crack the 55-point mark.

Pregame Reading
What To Watch For - Penn State

Double the Fun: Dara Taylor was surprised to hear that she had handed out 10 assists vs. Minnesota last Sunday. The double figure assist game was her first of the season and just the third of her career. Add her 15 points to the mix and she had her first double-double as a Lady Lion and second of her career. Taylor handed out 11 assists twice during her two seasons at Maryland, where she recorded her only other double-double. She's now reached double figures in the scoring column 13 times this season, after having only five such games last season.

Atoning a Loss: Over the last three seasons, Penn State has lost the regular season series with just two opponents. The Lady Lions fell twice to Michigan State in 2011-12 and were defeated in both meetings against Purdue in 2010-11. The Lions will also look to pay back the Boilermakers for handing them their first Big Ten home loss in two calendar years. Pen State had won 14 straight home Big Ten games, which started with a win over Michigan on Jan. 12, 2011 after losing to Michigan State on Jan. 7.

Large Margin Wins: Penn State has posted five wins of 20 points or more in 2013-14, including Sunday's 30 point victory over Minnesota. They have followed up each of their first four large margin victories with a triumph in the next contest. On three occasions, the Lady Lions have posted a double-digit win in their next contest after beating a team by 20-plus points.

What To Watch For - Purdue

All-Time Edge: There is only one team in the Big Ten that holds the all-time series edge against the Lady Lions: Purdue. The Boilermakers lead the all-time tally with a 27-17 record vs. the Blue and White, including 11 straight wins from 2005-2011. Penn State has won three of the last five meetings, including a 2012 victory at Purdue.

Winning on the Boards: The Boilermakers have won four straight games and in those contests have outrebounded each of their opponents. The edge on the boards is 11.5 per game over those four games and Purdue is 10-1 this season when hauling in more rebounds than its opponent.

Raining Threes: Purdue owns the second best shooting percentage from three point range in the Big Ten and ranks seventh nationally hitting nearly 40 percent of their attempts. The Boilermakers also ranks second in the conference with 7.3 shots made from distance per game. On the year, Purdue is 145-for-367 (.395) and seven of 12 players have hit at least on three pointer.


Lady Lions Ready For Rematch Versus Purdue

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By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Usually after a stinging loss, protocol says to look forward to revenge in the next encounter.

Edwards-Ariel (5).jpegHowever, that is not how No. 13/12 Penn State (15-4, 6-1) is approaching their rematch against Big Ten opponent No. 16/19 Purdue (15-5, 5-3) on the road at Mackey Arena tonight.

"Revenge isn't a factor," said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. "We are a forward-looking team. This game certainly has implications in the conference [title] race, so the focus is on doing what we have to do to put ourselves in position to win the Big Ten."

Last time around, the Lady Lions fell at home to the Boilermakers, 84-74. Despite the loss, the team managed to tie a school record with 14 blocks thanks to a career-high seven swats from Talia East.

"We certainly learned some lessons from it [loss to Purdue]," said Washington. "We definitely learned and understood how much we have to focus on being better defensively."

After the loss to Purdue, Washington said she would like to have sacrificed some of those blocks if it meant her team was containing the ball better. Purdue is a difficult matchup for Penn State, thus making them tough to contain, and Washington acknowledged that.

"They're tough to contain," said Washington. "They have three guards who are speedy, athletic and quick. We have to guard them sooner. We can't start guard them after they're already in the paint. We have to do a better job of team defense...and the first time we played them we didn't do that  If our layers of defense are there, then we don't necessarily get those blocks, we make them take tough shots."

It seems as if the loss to Purdue jumpstarted the Blue and White's extra emphasis on defense. Since allowing a season-high 84 points on Jan. 12, scoring against Penn State has been hard to come by for opponents.

Going into tonight's game the players focused for the most part on the defensive mindset that they have been developing in practice all week.

"We need to make it difficult for them," said senior guard Dara Taylor. "No open shots; no easy shots. Really contest and make them work for everything. If they're going to beat us, they have to beat us with every shot contested; really working hard for it."

One way in which the Lady Lions prepared for their rematch this evening is by being able to make constant defensive adjustments.

"They're [Purdue] shooting the ball pretty well from behind the arc," said Washington. "I don't know that you can sit in zone all game, but we'll see how it looks, how we're moving, how active we are and how they're shooting. Every game we play a little bit of man-to-man and we play a little bit of zone. Just depending on what feel is working the best is kind of what we will stick with."

Even though Washington alluded to the fact that a number of defensive looks could be used versus Purdue's offense, transition defense sticks out as vital to victory tonight.

"I thought they got a lot of baskets in transition, but we didn't do a good job with our transition defense," said Washington. "We just definitely have to play better on the defensive end in all phases."

As it stands now, Washington is "happy" with how her team has grown and feels as if the squad is on the "upswing." With a victory in a tough road environment tonight, the Lady Lions can take one step closer to winning the conference for a third straight year.



Team Defense Propels Lady Lions

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By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At this point in the season, Penn State head coach Coquese Washington has made it clear that the focal point for each and every subsequent game involves team defense.

Washington-Coquese (4).jpegAfter yet another dominating defensive performance yesterday in an 83-53 rout of Big Ten opponent Minnesota (13-8, 2-5), No. 13/13 Penn State (15-4, 6-1) has proven capable of consistently applying their coach's "bear down on defense" mindset in game situations.

"We really stressed team defense," said Washington. "I thought our defensive intensity and our ball screen defense was really good in the first half."

Through the first 35 minutes of play, Penn State allowed just three Golden Gophers to score. Eventually five Minnesota players managed to appear in the scoring column, with their three top players tallying 49 of their 53 total points.

"They've always had fast guards and been aggressive," said Minnesota head coach Pam Borton about Penn State's defense. "I just think that they're bigger. They are just big and they protect the rim, and they don't give you a lot of easy shots inside and negate a lot of penetration to the basket."

Coming into the game, the Lady Lions knew that they were facing an excellent shooting team. Prior to yesterday's contest, the Golden Gophers were ranked second in the nation with a .430 three-point field goal percentage.

However, the Lady Lions and their perimeter zone defense was too much for the Minnesota shooters. Penn State held the Golden Gophers to just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc, 0-of-5 in the first half.

"I thought Ariel [Edwards] and Dara [Taylor] did a great job on [Rachel] Banham," said senior guard Maggie Lucas. "I thought we contested a lot, contested every shot. We know how good of a three point shooting team they are, and we know they're going to make some. So our goal was to go in there and contest."

Washington echoed Lucas's evaluation of their perimeter defense.

"Our focus coming into this game was that we needed to guard them," said Washington. "They are a great three-point shooting team and you can't give great shooters easy open looks, so our focus was just to be there when they caught the ball and not give them great looks. I thought we did a great job forcing them off of the three-point line and not giving them open looks."

Not only did the Blue and White keep Minnesota in check from downtown, but they also won the battle in the paint and in transition.

The Lady Lions out-rebounded the Golden Gophers, 42-31, thanks to six boards from 6-foot-6 sophomore Candice Agee.

Moreover, Penn State came out in front in the turnover battle, forcing 21 and committing just eight. Senior guard Dara Taylor notched four steals to help the Lady Lions outscore Minnesota 25-7 in transition.

The Lady Lions have been so strong defensively that the team has not allowed more than 55 points in their past four contests. This is the first time since the 1999-00 season that a Big Ten team has held its opponents to under 55 points in four straight games.

Next up for the Lady Lions is a tough Big Ten road test against No. 22/20 Purdue (14-5, 4-3) Thursday at 6 p.m.

In the last meeting, the Boilermakers stormed through Happy Valley to knock off the Lady Lions at home, 84-74. Moving forward, the stress point for Washington and her squad will remains on suffocating defense.

"Certainly the focus has to be on the defensive end of the floor," said Washington. "Purdue came in here a couple of weeks ago and scored 84 points, the most points we have given up in conference play. We haven't started to talk about the specific game plan yet, but whatever it is, I know it is going to be a heavy concentration in guarding them and trying to keep them from scoring 90 points."



Taylor Led Offense Thrives in Win Over Minnesota

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Dara Taylor didn't know she had 10 assists to complete her second career double-double Sunday after Penn State's (15-4, 6-1) 83-53 win over Minnesota (13-8, 2-5). Head Coach Coquese Washington didn't know either.

Taylor-Dara (7).jpegBoth know, however, how much better of a team they are when Taylor is dishing and multiple Penn State Lady Lions are swishing. They did just that on Sunday.

Led by Taylor's 15 points and 10 assists and 49 combined points from Maggie Lucas (25), Ariel Edwards (16) and Talia East (8), Penn State was nearly unstoppable offensively against the Golden Gophers.

And the more names involved in the scoring column, the better the Lady Lions are.

"We are much better," Washington said. "It opens up the floor for everybody, especially Maggie (Lucas), when everyone else is scoring and I think it gives everybody on our team confidence. We have a lot of confidence as a team right now."

Confidence was certainly on display in Penn State's fourth consecutive victory as they shot 44 percent both from the field and from three-point range. Nineteen bench points completed what was one of their better scoring performances of the conference season against an upset minded Minnesota.

The Gophers struggled where Penn State thrived. For over the first 30 minutes of the game, only three Minnesota players were in the scoring column and they finished with only three players scoring more than two points. Penn State totaled eight players in the scoring column, all of which scored four or more.

It goes back to the assist-minded Taylor and her ball distribution.

"I thought Dara was really in control of the tempo of the game and really had a good handle of our team offensively, so I am not surprised she got 10 assists," Washington said. "Her control of the game was the best we have seen this year. She is growing in that area and really managing the game and managing the team and making sure that things are flowing on the offensive end."

Taylor managed the game well and her team converted on the plays she set up. Take Taylor's creating ability and pair it with the shooting of Maggie Lucas and Penn State was rolling quickly against Minnesota.

As Lucas' shots were falling, more Minnesota defenders came to her area thus allowing Taylor to further penetrate the defense and get more players involved.

All of the sudden, Minnesota had more than one or two players to pay attention to. Taylor credits the mindset of her teammates prior to the game as to why they were able to have such a diverse scoring attack.

"I think everybody came in really focused and very confident," Taylor said. "We executed our game plan. Our game plan was to exploit the defense where we could. Everybody came to play and everybody hit shots."

That confidence, according to Washington, is what Penn State needs to be an elite team in a tough Big Ten Conference.

"I think when we get contributions from everyone and everyone is starting to feel confidence in their roles, it is a really good place for us to be," she said.

That confidence has picked up since an 84-74 loss at home to Purdue (14-5. 4-3) on Jan. 12 and the Lady Lions now are mentally prepared for a rematch against the Boilermakers Thursday in West Lafayette at 6 p.m.



GAME BLOG: Lady Lions host Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on 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


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.