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Penn State Women's Basketball: Lady Lions Earn No. 4 Seed in NCAA Tournament, Will Face UTEP in First Round

by on March 12, 2012 8:58 PM

Penn State is going to Baton Rouge.

The Lady Lions (24-6, 13-3) found out its NCAA Tournament fate Monday night, learning it will head to Louisiana as a No. 4 seed and will face 13th-seeded UTEP (29-3, 15-1 Conference USA) at 5:15 p.m. Sunday. ESPN2 will televise.

Should the Lady Lions advance, they could face No. 5 seed and hometown LSU in the second round at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, with the winner of that game likely meeting top-seeded UConn in the Sweet 16, provided seeding holds.

Of course, that’s a long way away. On this night, Penn State and a few dozen supporters of the program packed into the Founders Club at the Bryce Jordan Center for the Selection Monday show.

“This is one of the most fun parts of being a college basketball player is Selection Monday,” coach Coquese Washington said. “And seeing your name come across that screen, it doesn’t matter who you play, where you play, you’re in and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”

Washington, the Big Ten Coach of the Year in her fifth season, and her squad are making their second consecutive  trip to the NCAA Tournament. They advanced to the second round a season ago before losing to DePaul.

A season that started with high expectations — the Lady Lions were preseason favorites to win the conference and did so for the first time in eight years — has been building toward March since October.

Finally. It’s here.

“I’ve been a lot less anxious and nervous about it,” sophomore guard Maggie Lucas said. “I feel like getting yourself all hyped up like that can only tighten yourself up for the game. I’m just ready to get going.”

Washington held nothing back in the moments leading up to the selection show, having some fun addressing a crowd that included university president Rodney Erickson and acting athletic director Dave Joyner.

“We’re looking forward to see who our first victim will be,” Washington quipped.

The first region wasn't even announced before Washington turned back to an assistant coach and said, “I can’t take this,” walking to the back of the room for a few moments before returning to her seat.

Washington has brought Penn State back among the elite college basketball programs in the country. Chalk up last year’s disappointing exit on its home floor to inexperience.

Not this year.

“I think you do have to be experienced in the tournament,” junior point guard Alex Bentley said. “The great teams have been there before. The great teams that get to the Final Four, they’ve done it.”

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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