The Penn State women's basketball team lost to Nebraska, 71-63, in its Big Ten opener at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Poor shooting plagued the Lady Lions (10-3, 0-1) all night as they could only convert 29.4 percent from the field. The Cornhuskers (12-1, 1-0) shot 43.1 percent, holding Penn State to just seven points in the final 12:53 of the game.
Senior guard Zhaque Gray struggled mightily in her 21 minutes on the court, missing all nine of her shot attempts. Her only positive contributions on the night were two rebounds and an assist.
Junior Nikki Greene dominated the boards with 15 rebounds, only one point away from a double-double.
Junior guard Alex Bentley accounted for eight steals, which is the best individual single-game heist by a Lady Lion since 2001.
The Lions' 26 forced turnovers were nearly double that of the Huskers' 14. Penn State scored 26 of its points off those takeaways, but inconsistency down the stretch unraveled the Lions' nine-point lead with just under 13 minutes to play.
Redshirt junior forward Mia Nickson returned to the lineup for 31 minutes tonight after missing several games with a concussion, but resumed her offensive struggles with only four points in the paint.
Penn State plays at Wisconsin on Jan. 2 before a network television matinee against Michigan State on Jan. 7 in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Maggie Lucas scored 22 points and every Lady Lion that played scored for the fourth straight game as the No. 16 Lady Lions cruised to a 78-54 win Wednesday at Bucknell.
Spreading the wealth is starting to become a theme for Penn State. Tonight, three Lions had double-digit points (guard Alex Bentley and center Nikki Greene both had 11) and the least amount of minutes anyone played was freshman Tori Waldner’s 13.
Lucas had another standout game. It was the sophomore’s fourth straight game with at least 20 points as she went 7-for-10 from the floor and collected five rebounds.
The win against Bucknell (2-10) was Penn State’s last out-of-conference game of the regular season. The Lady Lions went 10-2 in the season’s opening stretch, losing two road games to Delaware and Texas Tech.
Their next game is their Big Ten opener at home against No. 24 Nebraska on Dec. 30.
Aside from setting a pair of notable records in last week’s first game, it was an uneventful stretch for the Lady Lions, who cruised to two blowout wins.
Game #9: Lady Lions (7-2) defeat Virginia Tech (2-6), 66-28
Guard Alex Bentley notched career point number 1,000 in this throttling. Also, center Nikki Greene stepped up big time with 14 points and a season-low 2 personal fouls, and played very well defensively.
Virginia Tech is not a team that can score, but regardless of their scoring ability, the 28 points that the Lady Lions held them to is an impressive total. They did it by playing constant man-to-man defense, something coach Coquese Washington had toyed with but hadn’t relied on until this game. Obviously, it worked.
Not much else of note happened here - it was just a complete mismatch.
Game #10: Lady Lions (8-2) defeat Maryland-Eastern Shore (2-5), 76-51
Repeat last sentence. Maggie Lucas dropped 20 points after air-balling her first shot of the game. The Lady Lions switched between a man defense and a 2-3 zone formation for the game, which has been Washington’s usual play. Against such a weaker team, it hardly mattered what defense Penn State played.
By the way, it was pretty cool how Gizelle Studevent got a season-high in points (8) on her birthday in this game.
Player of the Week
Nikki Greene. Last week, I noted how the bigs had to stay out of foul trouble, especially with the injuries and lack of depth the Lady Lions have had. Greene did just that in the Lady Lions’ two games this week, fouling a combined five times while scoring 27 points.
I think the Lady Lions got a lot better through these two wins. Though the opponents were both weak, these were two of their most convincing wins of the season. Their biggest problem, defense, disappeared during the week, and they also made big strides forward in reducing the amount of fouls they committed. Definitely an impressive week.
Around the League
So much for No. 12 Purdue (7-3) being the new Big Ten powerhouse. It was a brutal week for the Boilermakers, as they dropped a home game to No. 3 Notre Dame and lost at Central Michigan. They should take a pretty big tumble in next week’s rankings since they’ve lost three of their last four. No. 13 Ohio State (8-0) will become the new highest-ranked Big Ten team, and it is foreseeable that they could begin Big Ten play with a 12-0 record.
Only one game this week as the Lady Lions take their finals.
12/18 vs. Wagner (2-7) - Should be another blowout.
Maggie Lucas scored a team-high 20 points, Nikki Greene added 13, and the No. 17 Lady Lions trounced Maryland-Eastern Shore on Sunday in the Bryce Jordan Center, 76-51.
It was a surprise to many that UMES managed to have the score at 40-30 when the first half ended. As the Lady Lions have done many times this year, they started the game a bit slowly and stepped up in the second half to make the game a blowout.
For instance, the Lady Lions were trailing Washington State 38-35 at the half, but ended up winning 72-60. They were losing to Middle Tennessee State 32-26 at the half of that game, but won it 65-49.
After the game, coach Coquese Washington joked about how the Lady Lions have been able to bounce back in the second halves of games.
“I’m just such a really smart coach,” she said. “At halftime I sprinkle magic pixie dust on them.”
On a more serious note, she added, “It’s all about the effort. We played smarter on defense, gambled less, and have done a better job of being in tune to what we need to do as a team.”
Point guard Alex Bentley was an assist away from her second career double-double after she recorded her first ever in the Lady Lions’ last game, a win against Virginia Tech. For the second straight game, every Lady Lion that played scored.
Although the Lady Lions (8-2) had much more height than UMES (2-5), they ended up tied in rebounds with 46 apiece.
The game took place on guard Gizelle Studevent’s birthday, and she recorded a season-high eight points.
For the first time since 2006, the Penn State women's volleyball team lost a match in the NCAA tournament, falling 3-0 to UCLA in the regional semifinals in Lexington, Ky.
Coach Russ Rose said he was disappointed by the loss, but wasn't ashamed of his team's effort.
"I’m a little disappointed with how we did some things tonight, but I’m not disappointed in the kids," Rose said. "I thought especially with the run this program has had over the last couple of years that it would be really shallow of us not to say anything but good things about how UCLA played."
Penn State hit .248 in the loss, and never seemed to find a groove.
The Bruins hit .310 in the victory over the four-time defending NCAA champions. Rachael Kidder had a match-high 15 kills for UCLA.
Ariel Scott had 11 kills and five errors on 37 swings in a losing effort and sophomore Deja McClendon had 10 kills.
Freshman outside hitter Aiyana Whitney led the team with 12 kills and hit .458.
Despite her solid performance, Whitney said the team was plagued by some of the same problems it has faced all season.
"I feel like we struggled a lot with things that we have consistently struggled with," Whitney said. "We weren’t able to make the adjustments we needed to make from the start. I am still proud to play with the girls. It didn’t go in our favor, but it happens."
UCLA will now face No. 1 seed Texas tomorrow night, with the winner advancing to the final four.
For the second time this season, the No. 16 Lady Lions had a chance to assert their dominance in the women’s basketball landscape. Also for the second time, they failed by only winning one of their two games.
Game #7: Lady Lions (6-1) defeat No. 14 North Carolina, 103-84
This was a huge win for Penn State. Coming off victories against Iowa State and Nevada all the way in Reno, the team
was excited to play in their own gym and welcome a big-time opponent. After fouling profusely in the first half, which has continued to be a theme for the Lady Lions, it seemed like fouls would be their demise. They led 58-51 at the half, but Maggie Lucas earned her fourth foul less than a minute into the second half. She sat for the next fourteen minutes or so, requiring her fellow guards to step up.
They did. Alex Bentley notched her first career double-double (15 points and a career-high 15 assists) and Zhaque Gray scored 25 points. Though the high-octane offense of the Lady Lions was able to overpower the Tar Heels, the amount of foul trouble that the team got itself in is not a recipe for continual success. A win is a win, especially against a team this good, but things haven’t been as smooth as Coach Washington has wanted them to be so far.
Game #8: Lady Lions (6-2) lose at No. 19 Texas Tech, 70-66
This very exciting game was a tale of two halves for the Lady Lions. They led 36-34 when the first half ended, having shot 53.8 percent from the floor. Their offense was effective, scoring 20 points in the paint. The second half was a different story; the Lady Lions shot a measly 25 percent from the floor and only collected eight points in the paint. The dreaded f-word was once again a major problem for the Lady Lions. Nikki Greene, Talia East and Tori Waldner (all of whom mainly play center) had four personal fouls, resulting in a collective 52 minutes between the three of them.
The Lady Lions might have won had Zhaque Gray handled an offensive rebound late in the game, but they definitely would have won if they hadn’t been so outrebounded. The Lady Raiders grabbed 48 boards to the Lady Lions’ 36, and Texas Tech had 22 offensive boards to Penn State’s 13. Coach Washington was peeved that North Carolina outrebounded the Lady Lions (48-40), but the win eased the pain. It was probably a different story against Texas Tech.
Player of the Week
Alex Bentley, again. After her first ever double-double against North Carolina, she scored 18 points in Lubbock, hitting a key three-pointer late in the game that brought Penn State within one point of a tie.
The Lady Lions’ foul trouble could be causing their rebound problems. Most of the culprits of crooked numbers in the PF category are the Lady Lion forwards and centers. Greene has lost so much playing time to fouls that her starting position on the team is more of a formality; East is playing almost as much as Greene.
In other news, Tori Waldner has been tremendous for a freshman. She’s exceeded all expectations and has saved the
Lady Lion bigs when they’ve gotten in foul trouble.
Around the League
Only four weeks into the season, the Lady Lions have officially abandoned being beasts of the Big Ten. Today, No. 13 Purdue took down No. 4 Texas A&M at home, 60-51. Sure, Purdue lost to No. 7 Duke earlier in the week, but at 7-1, Purdue has had a much more convincing season than the Lady Lions.
With the win and loss, Penn State figures to remain pretty stagnant in tomorrow’s rankings, perhaps dropping a spot or two.
12/6 vs. Virginia Tech (2-5): This game starts the easiest stretch of Penn State’s schedule, in which they’ll finally be able to play some legitimately weak teams.
The Penn State women's volleyball team cruised past Delaware tonight, 3-0 (25-12, 25-9, 25-12).
The Blue Hens were never able to find a groove throughout the short, three-set match. The Nittany Lions hadn't won a home match so lopsided since they played Rutgers back on September 17.
The Lions dominated the Hens all over the court, but they especially controlled the net. Penn State out-blocked Delaware 11 to 2, easily rejecting most of the players' swings.
Deja McClendon and Ariel Scott haunted Delaware libero Cara Rosehill all night with their powerful attacks. McClendon hit 11-for-21 without an error. Rosehill was also responsible for three of the Lions eight service aces.
Aiyana Whitney complemented McClendon and Scott with one of the best matches of her freshman career. She hit 8-for-16 with no errors.
All 15 active Penn State players saw rallies Saturday as Penn State pulled away. Megan Shifflett and Marika Racibarskas were back in uniform Saturday in lieu of Maggie Harding and Erica Denney, who sat off to the side due to NCAA roster limitations.
The Lions will be back in action in Lexington next weekend against the winner of the UCLA vs. San Diego match later tonight.
Check Monday's Collegian for full coverage of the weekend.
Before Penn State takes on Delaware in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Rec Hall, the Daily Collegian's volleyball reporters Matt Howland (@RowlandHowland), Dan Norton (@DanNorton86) and Stephen Pianovich (@SPianovich) will offer their predictions for the match.
Match Score: Howland: Penn State 3-0 Norton: Penn State 3-0 Pianovich: Penn State 3-0
Service Aces by freshman Micha Hancock: Howland: 2 Norton: 3 Pianovich: 4
Penn State hitting percentage: Over/Under .315: Howland: Over Norton: Over Pianovich: Even
More kills - Deja McClendon + 3 or Ariel Scott:
Note: McClendon is "under the weather."
Howland: Scott Norton: McClendon Pianovich: McClendon
Penn State dig leader, besides Ali Longo: Howland: Maddie Martin Norton: Kristin Carpenter Pianovich: Dominique Gonzalez
Bold Prediction: Howland: Double prediction: Katie Kabbes and Megan Shifflett both get in the match and every PSU hitter with at least 10 attacks gets at least four kills. Norton: Micha Hancock gets at least five kills. Pianovich: (L)acey Fuller has an ace and also digs five balls.
After Penn State's 3-0 win over Liberty on Friday night, the Flames asked the Nittany Lions to join them for a group prayer in the middle of the court. In a scene reminiscent of Penn State-Nebraska football game a few weeks ago, the two teams came together in silence as Liberty coach Shane Pinder led the group in prayer. He said the Liberty captains ask every team they play to do this, but it was especially important to ask Penn State with all that has happened on campus in the past few weeks. Here's some audio of Pinder discussing the prayer from his press conference after the match.
The No. 1 Icers advanced to 12-1 on the season after defeating No. 19 Rutgers 13-2 Friday night.
Penn State's rout of the Scarlet Knights began when Dan Meiselman put a puck past Rutgers’ goalie Brandon DeLibero at 2:32 during an Icers’ power play — the Icers went 1 for 3 and held Rutgers at 0 for 5 in power plays.
From there, the Icers’ never looked back.
Tommy Olczyk recorded his second hat trick of the season, putting two pucks in the net during the second period, one of them while the Icers were shorthanded, and one in the third period.
Ten Icers recorded a goal in the game, including defenseman Dan Loucks who found himself in a 2-on-1 situation.
The Icers are set to play their second game of the series tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. in the Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
Penn State started its title defense with a bang, as the Nittany Lions swept Liberty Friday night in Rec Hall (25-16, 25-16, 25-16).
Penn State moves on to face Delaware in the second round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night in Rec Hall. The Fighting Blue Hens defeated American in four sets in the match preceding the Lions' win.
Sophomore Ariel Scott carried the Lions to victory in their match with a dominant offensive performance, hitting .452, with 16 kills on 31 attacks. Scott didn't have an error until the third set, finishing the match with just two.
Penn State's physical presence proved to be too much for the Flames as Penn State's superior height and athleticism were a main factor for the Lions.
Sophomore Deja McClendon didn't have her best performance hitting just .056, but her teammates were able to pick up the slack.
Coach Russ Rose put redshirt freshman and State College native Maggie Harding in to serve for match point in the first set, and the Lions won the point and the set.
Sophomore Maddie Martin played a solid all-around match, hitting .273 with eight kills and tallying 10 digs as well, good enough to tie her for the team lead in that category.
Sophomore libero Ali Longo and freshman setter Micha Hancock also had 10 digs.
The Lions will face Delaware at 7:30 Saturday night in Rec Hall with a berth in the third round of the NCAA tournament at stake.