Go big or go home.
According to head coach Coquese Washington, her No. 9 Lady Lions (1-0) tried to live by that motto a little too strictly in their season opener, and it caused a sluggish start in her team’s 72-61 win over Howard Sunday.
“I thought to start the game, the first 10-12 minutes of the game, we were home run hitters,” Washington said. “We were in the home run derby. We were reaching, trying to steal the game every single time down the floor, reaching and missing, and getting the paint penetration or fouling.”
Luckily for the Lions and Washington, her team soon gained its composure and played disciplined, Washington said at her press conference on Tuesday.
The team will try to continue that success into its game against No. 16 Texas A&M, at 8 p.m. tonight in College Station, Texas.
Texas A&M (0-1) also did not have its most ideal season opener as the Lady Aggies lost to then-No. 9 Louisville, 47-45, on a game-winning lay-up by Louisville.
However, Washington does not believe that loss is a true testament to the young Texas A&M team’s talent, which has seven true freshmen on its roster.
“First games don’t mean anything,” Washington said. “You saw us play our first game. So, I have a sneaky suspicion [that] Texas A&M will play a lot better than they did in their first game and I’m really confident we will play a lot better.”
What the first games of the season do tell is the contrary styles that the two teams play.
In its season opener against Howard, Penn State scored 72 points, while Texas A&M scored only 45 points in a two-point defeat.
One team uses a high-tempo, offensive style of play while the other prefers a grind it out, defensive battle. Together, the two set up for an intriguing match up.
Though Washington said the clash of styles will not slow the pace of the Lions. She said the up-tempo pace of Sunday’s game was not fast enough, as she wants a faster pace moving forward in the season.
Another focus of improvement that Washington noted on falls within the post play, which will be key against a physically rebounding Texas A&M team.
In the Aggies’ defeat against Louisville, they still managed to collect 42 rebounds with senior 6-foot-4 center Kelsey Bone leading the way with 12.
Bone will often find herself matched up with Penn State’s senior center Nikki Greene.
Greene will have some extra motivation as her mother, grandmother, and high school team will be in attendance, she said Tuesday.
The game is sort of a homecoming for her, as College Station is a two and half-hour drive from Greene’s hometown, Diboll, Texas — a homecoming she does not want to disappoint in.
“It’s as close as I’m going to get,” she said.