Lady Lions Open NCAA Tournament Versus UTEP Sunday
March 16, 2012
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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The No. 4 seed Penn State Lady Lions (24-6, 13-3) get their NCAA Tournament underway against No. 13 seed UTEP (29-3, 15-1 C-USA) on Sunday at 5:15 p.m. (ET) in Baton Rouge, La. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and available on ESPN3.com. Penn State is making its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance and second-straight. The Lady Lions are one of only 12 teams to earn 23 or more NCAA Tournament berths.
The Penn State-UTEP contest will be the first game of a doubleheader with No. 5 seed LSU (22-10, 10-6 SEC) facing No. 12 San Diego State (25-6, 12-2 Mountain West) 25 minutes after the conclusion of the first game on ESPN2. The winner of each game will face off in a second round matchup on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. (ET).
TELEVISION: The First and Second Round games in Baton Rouge will air on ESPN2 with Bob Picozzi and Ros Gold-Onwude on the call. The Penn State-UTEP game will be seen in its entirety in Pennsylvania and portions of West Texas. It will also be part of ESPN2's whip-around coverage of the four games in that time slot. The game is also available on ESPN3.com, in its entirety.
RADIO/GAMETRACKER: The game is on the Penn State Sports Network and on ESPN 1450 locally with Jerry Fisher calling the action. The audio feed and link to GameTracker are available at www.GoPSUsports.com for free.
23RD NCAA TOURNAMENT BERTH: Penn State is making its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance and second-straight. The Lady Lions are one of only 12 teams to earn 23 or more NCAA Tournament berths. The Lady Lions are 27-22 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
NCAA TOURNEY DRIVES BENTLEY: Junior guard Alex Bentley made the most of her first NCAA Tournament appearance, leading the team in scoring in both games. In two NCAA games last year, Bentley averaged 23.0 points, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals. She also shot 47.7% from the field. Bentley had 25 points and four helpers in the first round game against Dayton and followed that up with a 23-point, four-assist night against DePaul in the second round.
NO. 4 SEED: Penn State earned the No. 4 seed in the Kingston Region of the NCAA Tournament. It is the highest seed for the Lady Lions since PSU was also the fourth seed in the 2005 tourney. Penn State dropped an opening round game to #13 Liberty, 78-70, that year.
3RD TIME TO LOUISIANA: The Lady Lions head to the Pelican State for the third time in its 23 NCAA Tournament appearances. Penn State's first two trips to Louisiana were to Ruston and the campus of Louisiana Tech in 1999 and 2001. Penn State was 1-2 in those games. This will be the Lady Lions' first trip to Baton Rouge since an 80-63 loss to the Lady Tigers on Jan. 4, 2003 and second trip overall.
COQUESE AND CALDWELL: This bracket has two up-and-coming coaches in Coquese Washington and Nikki Caldwell that were stellar collegiate players themselves. The pair crossed paths on the basketball court during their collegiate careers with Caldwell's Tennessee Lady Vols getting the best of Washington's Notre Dame Fighting Irish three times (1991, 1992 and 1993). The Lady Vols held serve in Knoxville in 1991 (88-71) and 1993 (79-48) and earned the road win in South Bend in 1992 (85-82).
SCOUTING UTEP: The Miners earn the Conference USA automatic bid after winning regular-season and tournament titles with a 29-3 overall record and 15-1 mark in conference play. Gloria Brown leads a balanced attack with an 11.9 scoring mark. She also leads the team in rebounding (8.8) and blocks (2.9). Kayla Thornton chips in 9.7 points per outing and pulls in 7.2 rebounds per game.
ALL-TIME VS. THE MINERS: The Lady Lions were victorious in the only meeting between the two teams. Penn State defeated UTEP, 97-67, on Nov. 18, 1983. The Lady Lions are 4-0 all-time against current Conference USA members with wins over East Carolina, Houston, UTEP and Tulane.
LAST TIME VS. UTEP: The Lady Lions posted a 97-67 win over the Miners on Nov. 18, 1983 in the Wyoming Dial Classic Championship game in Laramie, Wyo. Lorraine McGirt led the Penn State effort with 17 points, while Vanessa Paynter pulled in 11 rebounds.
SCOUTING LSU: The Lady Tigers are an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament after finishing the regular-season with a 22-10 overall record and 10-6 mark in SEC play. LSU is led by LaSondra Barrett, who leads the squad in scoring (12.5), rebounding (6.9) and steals (1.4). Adrienne Webb also averages double figures at a 10.1 per game clip.
ALL-TIME VS. THE LADY TIGERS: The Lady Lions are 3-2 all-time against LSU. Penn State and LSU have only met in Baton Rouge once with the Lady Tigers earning an 80-63 victory on Jan. 4, 2003. The teams have never met in the NCAA Tournament. Penn State is 21-27 all-time against SEC opponents.
LAST TIME VS. LSU: The last time the Lady Lions faced the Lady Tigers, Penn State posted an 83-46 win in the 2003-04 season opener on Nov. 21, 2003. Kelly Mazzante led the PSU charge with 22 points and five rebounds, while Tanisha Wright chipped in 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE: The Aztecs claim their NCAA Tournament bid by winning the Mountain West Tournament. SDSU is 25-6 overall and was 12-2 in conference play. Courtney Clements is a deep threat for San Diego State, connecting on 60 three-pointers en route to a team-best 17.4 scoring average. Chelsea Hopkins is second the squad in scoring (10.5) and leads the way in rebounding (5.7) and assists (6.5).
ALL-TIME VS. THE AZTECS: The Lady Lions are 2-0 all-time against SDSU. The last time the teams met, Penn State posted a 76-53 win on Nov. 28, 1998 in San Diego. The Lady Lions are 5-1 all-time against Mountain West Conference foes with the two wins against SDSU, two wins over New Mexico and a victory over UNLV with the lone loss coming to TCU.
LAST TIME VS. SDSU: The Lady Lions earned a 76-53 win over the Aztecs in the last meeting between the teams on Nov. 28, 1998 in the championship game of the San Diego State Thanksgiving Classic. Andrea Garner paced Penn State with 19 points, while Clara Carter added eight rebounds.
LAST TIME OUT: Nikki Greene scored five points in 11 seconds to tie the game at 66-66, but Brittany Rayburn connected on a layup with 1.6 seconds left to lift No. 4 seed Purdue to a 68-66 win over the top-seeded Lady Lions in the Big Ten semifinals March 3. Junior guard Alex Bentley led the Lady Lions with 22 points to go along with three assists and three steals. Greene also reached double figures with 12 points and had three rebounds and two blocks. Junior Mia Nickson narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 13 rebounds.
FROM A SHOOTER TO A SCORER: Sophomore guard Maggie Lucas was known as a shooter as a freshman last year, but as a sophomore, she has expanded her game and has become a true scorer. Here is a comparison of Lucas' growth from being just a three-point threat a year ago to becoming a scorer this season.
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