Indiana Daily Student

Team seeks redemption

Hoosiers look to avoid another drubbing by No. 9 Penn State

A year ago, IU was embarrassed at Assembly Hall by then-No. 6 Penn State. The Hoosiers were outplayed in every facet of the game by the Big Ten's best team that season. In the 74-36 drubbing -- by far the worst performance of the year -- the Hoosiers shot an abysmal 21 percent from the floor and were outscored by 32 points in the second half.\nIU's second-half defense was forgiving, allowing the Lady Lions to shoot nearly 65 percent in the second half.\n"We got some easy buckets in the second half," said Penn State coach Rene Portland after the win. "Layups really help the shooting percentage."\nAnd the Hoosier offense was transparent, managing only 13 second-half points.\n"None of our players stepped forward offensively for us tonight," then-coach Jim Izard said. \nThe two teams will meet again 2 p.m. Sunday at State College, but chances of a similar plot are slim, as IU looks to continue its best season in recent memory. Portland thinks the Hoosiers are much improved from the last time the two squads met.\nShe said she thinks the key is the new attitude coach Kathi Bennett has brought to the program. \n"The kids are fired up to play for somebody who really cares about them," Portland said. "Kathi has done an amazing job with them this year.\n"They're playing tough defense and making wise choices on offense."\nNo. 9 Penn State (11-4, 3-1 Big Ten as of Wednesday) is looking to repeat a magical season that ended in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament. The Lady Lions only return two starters from that team, but have used scoring from new outlets to fuel their run.\nFreshman guard Kelly Mazzante leads the charge for the Lady Lions, averaging more than 18 points a game in Big Ten play. Mazzante, a front-runner for the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, is shooting more than 51 percent from the field to lead the team. Her shooting ability is the reason Portland brought her to State College.\n"She scored 3,200 points in high school and got cut for the USA team because she shot the ball too much, so we kind of knew what we had with her," Portland said. "I get mad at her when she doesn't attempt shots."\nBut the original plan didn't have Mazzante playing much in her first season. Key injuries forced Mazzante into action.\nSenior starter Chrissy Falcone went down with her third anterior cruciate ligament in pre-season practice, and freshman guard Jennifer Brenden is also out for the season with a knee injury. The depletion of two guards along with the graduation of All-American point guard Helen Darling forced Mazzante to see quality minutes.\n"It's unfortunate that she has been put in the position she has," Portland said. "Missing two guards, we really needed her to step up and play big minutes. And she has responded great.\n"It is unbelievable, considering the schedule we played and the positions we have put her in just how tough she is hanging in."\nPenn State stumbled in its last Big Ten game after a hot start, falling to Illinois 75-71. Illinois had been suspect, beating a tough Auburn team, yet losing to DePaul and Northern Iowa. The Fighting Illini were coming off a 100-59 drubbing from Georgia prior to their upset of Penn State.\nPortland said they saw Illinois on one of its good days.\n"They played with a tremendous amount of energy," Portland said. "They just need to get their act together. They got every loose ball, but they may be a different team tomorrow."\nBennett has kept quiet about Penn State, instead focusing on Thursday's game with Minnesota. \nShe said she is excited about the opportunity to play a ranked team in a hostile environment to see how her team reacts.\n"It's a great chance for us," Bennett said. "I've heard a lot about their (Bryce Jordan Center) arena. I know their fans are really loud for Penn State and get on opposing coaches, so I expect that"

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