Blue White Illustrated

March 2024

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 69 of 75

7 0 M A R C H 2 0 2 4 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M A few weeks ago, the Penn State women's basketball team was look- ing all but certain to end a nine-year NCAA Tournament drought. The Lady Lions stood 16-5 and were listed as a No. 7 seed by ESPN women's hoops bracketolo- gist Charlie Creme in late January. But since earning an 80-64 road win over Minnesota on Jan. 31, Penn State has been in free fall. The Lady Lions lost their next six in a row after pounding the Go- phers, and only two of those defeats came against nationally ranked opponents. Heading into their last two games of the regular season — a visit to Purdue on Feb. 28 and a Senior Day rematch with Min- nesota on March 3 — Penn State was still in Creme's projected 68-team field … but barely. The Lady Lions were heading up the "last four in" portion of ESPN's bub- ble watch, along with Auburn, Maryland and Vanderbilt. Penn State has gotten a lift lately from Virginia Tech t ra n s f e r A s h l e y Owusu. The grad- uate guard didn't b e g i n h e r P S U career until mid- season due to an injury, but head- i n g i n to P u rd u e game, she was averaging a team-best 17.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Even so, the Lady Lions have some work to do if they're going to earn the pro- gram's first NCAA Tournament berth since 2014. ■ LADY LIONS SEEKING TO REVERSE LATE-SEASON SWOON M AT T H E R B | M AT T. H E R B @ O N 3 . C O M MEN'S ICE HOCKEY: Junior forward Ryan Kir- wan forced overtime with a third-period goal, but sixth-ranked Wisconsin scored in the extra period for a 3-2 win and a sweep of the two-game series Feb. 23-24 at Pegula Ice Arena. The loss dropped Penn State to 13-16-3 overall and 5-14-3 in Big Ten play heading into the final series of the regu- lar season at Ohio State March 1-2. WOMEN'S ICE HOCKEY: Penn State advanced to the College Hockey America championship game with a 4-0 victory over the Rochester Insti- tute of Technology in the tournament's semifinal round Feb. 24 at Pegula Ice Arena. Sophomore forward Tessa Janecke notched the 100th point of her career with a first-period goal. The No. 15 Lions (21-12-3) were set to play host to Mercy- hurst in the conference title game March 2. MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Senior setter Luke Snyder had 32 assists and 9 digs to help ninth-ranked Penn State sweep the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Feb. 24 at Rec Hall. The Nittany Li- ons improved to 12-3 overall and 4-0 in the East- ern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association heading into a March 1 visit to No. 1 Long Beach State. BASEBALL: Penn State took two of three games at Stanford during a West Coast road swing Feb. 23-24. The Lions (5-2) won the first two games by scores of 15-4 and 13-2, marking the first time since 2012 that Stanford lost consecutive games to the same opponent by more than 10 runs. SOFTBALL: Junior centerfielder Haylie Brunson went 4 for 5 with 6 RBI to lead the Nittany Lions past Penn, 12-5, on Feb. 25 at Lynchburg, Va. Penn State finished 4-1 at the Liberty Softball Classic and ran its overall record to 11-1, the team's best start since 1982. MEN'S LACROSSE: Junior attackman Will Peden scored a career-high 4 goals, and 12th-ranked Penn State thrashed Navy, 13-3, on Feb. 24 in An- napolis, Md. It was the Lions' third win in a row and lifted them to 3-1 overall. WOMEN'S LACROSSE: Penn State fell to 2-2 with an 18-13 loss to Princeton on Feb. 24 at Pan- zer Stadium. Senior midfielder Kristin O'Neill had 4 goals for the 22nd-ranked Nittany Lions. MEN'S TRACK AND FIELD: Penn State finished third at the Big Ten Indoor Championships Feb. 23-24 at Geneva, Ohio. Graduate student Cheickna Traore won the 200- and 60-meter races, posting a school-record time of 6.54 seconds in the latter event. He was also part of the 4x400 team that finished first. Sopho- more Handal Roban won the 600-meter title in 1:15.53, the third-fastest time in school history. WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD: The Nittany Lions placed second behind Illinois at the Big Ten Indoor Championships Feb. 23-24 at Geneva, Ohio. Sophomore Hayley Kitching was one of the stars for PSU, capturing titles in the 800-meter race (2:04.08) and the 600 meters (1:26.97). The latter time set a school record. The previous day, redshirt senior Chloe Royce won the Big Ten pen- tathlon title for the second time in her career. MEN'S GYMNASTICS: The seventh-ranked Nit- tany Lions turned in a season-high team score in their 407.500-399.300 victory over No. 6 Ohio State on Feb. 10 at Rec Hall. The Lions were espe- cially strong on the pommel horse, taking the top four spots. Senior Ethan Dick led the way with a season-high score of 13.150. WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS: Penn State finished with a team score of 196.775 at the Big Five Meet on Feb. 23 at Rec Hall. It was the Nittany Lions' best score in the Big Five Meet since 2016, and it earned them a third-place finish. Sopho- more Ava Piedrahita was PSU's top finisher in the all-around, turning in a 39.400 score to place fifth. W I N T E R / S P R I N G S P O R T S R O U N D U P OLYMPIC SPORTS Former Penn State Baseball Coach Joe Hindelang Dies Joe Hindelang, whose 389 wins are the most of any coach in Penn State baseball history, died on Feb. 16 at age 78. Hindelang coached the Nittany Lions from 1991-2004 and went 389-355-2. He led the team to eight winning seasons, including a 45-19 finish in 2000 that included an NCAA Regional victory against North Carolina. The Lions' 45 wins that year were the most in program history. A member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Hindelang coached 43 All-Big Ten players during his 14 seasons. Four PSU players — out- fielders Michael Campo and Wes Reohr, third baseman Shawn Fagan and pitcher Nate Bump — earned All-America notice during Hindelang's tenure. First-year PSU baseball coach Mike Gambino said Hindelang left behind a lasting legacy with the Nittany Lions. "In my short time at Penn State, it has become clear how big of an impact Joe Hindelang had on Penn State baseball and this university," Gambino said in a prepared statement. "He was a tre- mendous coach, mentor and person. He will be greatly missed." — Matt Herb ASHLEY OWUSU

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