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Feb. 16, 2012
By Jeff Sattora, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Twenty-five games down, three to go.
The Penn State Lady Lions, 20-5 on the year, have three games left to make a final stamp on the 2011-`12 regular season. Sitting in front of the group is the chance to not only make a mark, but a very big one, as a possible Big Ten regular season championship awaits.
Sitting at 10-3 on the year in conference, a half-game ahead of their next two opponents (Purdue and Ohio State), the Lady Lions know the situation at hand.
"It's very exciting, we're in control of our own destiny," said sophomore guard Maggie Lucas. "It's up to us to go out and get these wins."
For senior Zhaque Gray the opportunity that presents itself is a huge one, and presents something she would love to end her career with, a Big Ten title.
"It definitely means a lot, I've won on every level," Gray said. "To put another championship under my belt would mean a lot to me."
While the team does control it's own destiny and excitement seemed to fill the air, there is still a lot of work to be done to get there, a fact not lost on head coach Coquese Washington.
That work starts as the team prepares for its next game, at Purdue Thursday night.
"They (Purdue) are a very talented team, a very good defensive team," Washington said on the Boilermakers. "Their backcourt is really good, they can all create their own shot, get shots for their teammates."
"We've got challenges on both ends of the floor," she added.
On the offensive end the Lady Lions will be looking to score against a team that is allowing a Big Ten low 57 points per game. While on the defensive end they will be looking to shut down an offense led by Brittany Rayburn at 14.3 points per game and Courtney Moses at 10.4 points per contest.
On top of the talent Purdue brings into the game, physicality is another thing that the team mentioned heading in.
"It's going to be a battle, they're a real physical team and they're a good team," said Gray on the matchup.
"They're very physical, Purdue's a very hard place to play," Lucas added. "It's very loud in there; it feels like the fans are right on top of you." Also mentioning how important the team keeping its poise will be.
As intense and important as these games are the next few weeks, the excitement and fun in the air of playing basketball at this level can't be ignored.
"I told our team, have fun, enjoy this," Washington said. "This is why you play basketball; you want to be in these kinds of games, regardless of the outcome."
With that said, she did add the how having wins in that outcome column would mean so much more.
"Nobody sits in their driveway and goes, `Yes, we finished 10th', you don't do that, you hit the buzzer-beater to win the championship," the coach added.
In a few short days and weeks a championship can be coming to Happy Valley, now it's time to go hit that shot.