Posted March 23, 2013 on
AP on Fox
When Penn State coach Coquese Washington and the Lady Lions learned they'd be heading back to south Louisiana for a second straight NCAA tournament, they weren't upset about having to hit the road.
Penn State is once again the highest seed at a site far from home, but the team happens to like playing in Baton Rouge.
"It was fun playing here last year because the crowd was into the game. They're knowledgeable fans. They showed up for all the games. It's just a great environment," Washington said. "When we saw the bracket come out, we're like, `Cool, we'll go back to the South and the 80-degree weather and great fans.' We were pleased."
Any sense of deja vu for Washington and Penn State veteran leaders Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas is a source of comfort.
One year ago, Penn State invaded the Pete Maravich Assembly Center as a No. 4 seed and advanced to the regional semifinals after victories over UTEP in the opening round and LSU in the second.
"It's nice that we're familiar with the area. It's fun to come back and play here," Bentley said. "I loved playing here last year."
This season, the third-seeded Lady Lions (25-5) open Sunday evening against No. 14 seed Cal Poly (21-10), and the winner of that game plays the winner of Sunday night's second game between sixth-seeded LSU and No. 11-seed Green Bay.
Despite a hiccup in the Big Ten tournament semifinals, when Penn State shot only 22.4 percent and fell by eight to Michigan State, the Lady Lions appear stronger this season than last.
It helps that Bentley and Lucas, their two best players last year, are back and playing well.
Lucas, a junior and the Big Ten player of the year, has averaged a career-best 20.5 points per game, ranking among the best in the nation by hitting 47.5 percent from 3-point range.
"Lucas is an excellent player - really, really good shooter, quick shot, green light on whatever," Cal Poly guard Caroline Reeves said. "There's going to have to be a lot of pressure on her, a lot of trying to get her into her second looks, maybe not her primary options, a lot of help on her from other teammates."
Bentley is averaging 14.0 points, and fellow senior Nikki Greene, Penn State's 6-foot-4 center, pitches in 8.9 points and 8.2 rebounds and is capable of more when she avoids foul trouble.
Experience is another factor. This is the first Cal Poly team ever to make an NCAA women's tournament, which the Mustangs did by winning Big West Conference.
"It's a dream come true for all of us. We're enjoying every moment of it," Cal Poly center Molly Schlemer said. "It's a crazy opportunity that we have worked for. It's surreal and hard to get used to because Cal Poly has never been here before."
Cal Poly has overcome season-ending injuries to several key players - most notably starting guard-forward Kayla Griffin during the Big West tournament final. Reeves described her squad as one with "nothing to lose," adding that she and her teammates had drawn some inspiration from upsets that headlined the first two days of the men's tournament.
Added Mustangs coach Faith Mimnaugh, a former Loyola of Chicago player who led the nation in assists in 1984-85, "Never bet against a coach whose name is Faith because anything can happen."
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Penn State coach Coquese Washington says the Lady Lions are happy to open the NCAA tournament in Baton Rouge for the second straight season, even if it means being on the road despite being the top seed at their site.
Any sense of deja-vu is comforting for Penn State, which advanced out of Baton Rouge last year with victories over UTEP and host LSU.
The No. 3 seed Lady Lions have...
For the third season in a row, the Penn State Nittany Lions are NCAA Division I wrestling national champions.
PSU accumulated 123.5 team points over the course of the three day tournament to capture the team crown. Oklahoma State finished second, just four points behind.
The championship is the fourth all-time for the Nittany Lions who captured their first...
While this is not football related, it should be included above the fold. Congratulations to Penn State's wrestling team, your 2013 NCAA Division 1 national champions (again)!
(Photo: Penn State Athletics)
- Former Penn State running back, and noted Joe Paterno defender, Franco Harris appeared at an autograph show sponsored by the Big 33. Fans talked about Franco...
Maggie Lucas scored 19 points, Alex Bentley added 18 and third-seeded Penn State overwhelmed NCAA women's tournament newcomer Cal Poly 85-55 in a first-round game Sunday night.
While the dynamic Lucas scored from all over the court, Penn State (26-5) also used its size advantage to assert itself inside on both ends.
The 6-foot-2 Mia Nickson, 6-3 Talia East and 6-4 Nikki Greene...
Penn State's Quentin Wright upset top-seeded Dustin Kilgore of Kent State to give the Nittany Lions their third straight team title Saturday night in the NCAA wrestling championships.
Wright beat Kilgore 8-6 at 197 pounds, giving the Nittany Lions an insurmountable lead over Oklahoma State.
Penn State began the day with a 20.5-point lead over the Cowboys. The Nittany Lions...
NBC says it will air an interview with former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky next week.
The network said the segment will be broadcast Monday on the ''Today'' show. NBC says the convicted sex offender will give his account of the encounters that landed him in prison and discuss former boss Joe Paterno.
Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year prison term...
Cornell senior Kyle Dake chose the toughest possible path to history.
By betting on himself, Dake is in a class all his own.
Dake became the first wrestler in NCAA history to win four national titles at four weights Saturday night, and Penn State won the national championship for the third year in a row.
The 165-pound Dake beat defending champion David Taylor of Penn State 5-4...
Receiver David Njoku of Cedar Grove (N.J.) High made an unofficial visit to Penn State, and things went very well. He spoke about how the visit changed his look on recruiting, and what he learned about the program.
According to Yahoo Sports, The Today Show will air an interview with disgraced former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, on Monday.
Sandusky, was sentenced to serve 30- to 60-year prison sentence after he was found guilty of 45 counts of child sex abuse. This disturbing case brought a once prestigous university and college football legend Joe Paterno, to their knees after...
Penn State advances in the NCAA Tournament by blowing out Cal Poly in first-round action in Baton Rouge, La.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — NBC plans to air excerpts of jailhouse interviews with former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky next week that were given to a documentary filmmaker working on a defense of Joe Paterno.
The network said in the segment, to be broadcast Monday on the Today show, the convicted sex offender will give his account of the encounters that landed him in prison...
Half of Penn State's roster will be going after individual national titles. But a third-straight team crown is still in question.