Penn State’s seniors enter this NCAA Tournament knowing that any game could be their last.
“It’s crazy,” senior Alex Bentley said. “This season really flew by very quickly. I think it’s gone by because we’ve been having a lot of fun. … Yeah, it’s bittersweet.”
While knowing it all could be over as soon as Sunday, the Lady Lions say they are concentrating more on the task at hand.
“Honestly, we really haven’t talked about it,” senior Mia Nickson said. “We’re just excited to play. It probably won’t hit all of us until the last game. We want to have a successful run. We’ve been here for four years. It’s the last go-round so we want to do our best.”
Nikki Greene credits the underclassmen for helping the seniors have a successful final year and can’t wait to see what this NCAA Tournament holds.
“I’m very excited and looking to compete and going through this journey with my teammates and come out with a great outlook of it,” Greene said. “… This is our last go-round and we’re looking to do great things.”
Out on the town
Dara Taylor got to hear stories of what the team did last season on the trip to Baton Rouge. The junior couldn’t travel with the squad to Louisiana because of NCAA transfer rules. “Everybody was telling me about all the stuff they did last year,” the junior guard said. “They went to New Orleans and had the (warm) weather. It was kind of weird that we got to come back here. It was kind of like a do-over for me to actually see everything.”
The Lady Lions were back in the Crescent City on Thursday, having dinner and experiencing the sights and sounds.
“We did some shopping, saw sights and went to Bourbon Street,” Taylor said. “It was a wild time out there.”
Nickson chose to do more shopping, having experienced the Bourbon Street scene last year.
“It’s like when you go to New York a lot of times,” Nickson explained. “First you go to Times Square and it’s like, ‘Wow.’ Then the second time, you go to the malls and go shopping. The third time you go to a play or something like that. You don’t do everything all at once.”
Cal Poly’s players have never experienced an NCAA Tournament and are drinking in the atmosphere. It is the school’s first-ever NCAA experience.
“It’s just a dream come true for all of us,” center Molly Schlemer said. “We are just taking it as an experience right now and enjoying every moment of it.
“It’s just a crazy opportunity that we’ve worked hard for. Just being here is kind of surreal and really hard to get used to because Cal Poly has never been here before. It’s amazing. We’re trying to take it all in and just living for the moment.”
Coquese Washington blamed Penn State’s 22 percent shooting against Michigan State in a 54-46 loss in the Big Ten semifinals on a poor diet.
“We did not eat our Wheaties on that day,” Washington said with a chuckle. “We’ll change our diet and have a good pregame meal and we’ll be ready to go.”
When reminded about the excellence of the local cuisine, Washington said her team will keep it bland.
“Nothing too exotic,” she said. “We don’t need upset stomachs having this Cajun food.”
Penn State is 14-3 in NCAA first-round games. … The last time the Lady Lions lost in the first round they were a No. 4 seed and fell 78-70 against No. 13 Liberty in 2005 in College Park, Md. … Lucas averaged 26.5 points in two games at the Maravich Assembly Center last season. … As a team, Penn State averaged 87.5 points in the two games at LSU.