Mar 24, 2013 2:12 AM by Bill Halter
Making the first NCAA appearance in school history, Cal Poly (21-10) is ready to go for the upset against 8th ranked Penn State (25-5). The 14th seeded Mustangs and 3rd seeded Lady Lions will face off on Sunday at 2:15pm Pacific time at the Maravich Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The game can be seen on ESPN2 or ESPN3. The winner of Sunday's contest will play again on Tuesday.
Las Vegas has Cal Poly listed as 16 point underdogs. The Mustangs are without two would be starters. Senior forwards Brittany Woodard and Kayla Griffin are both out with ACL tears. Griffin was injured in the second half of Cal Poly's Big West Championship game win against Pacific. Cal Poly head Coach Faith Mimnaugh says the team will play with a "nothing to lose" mentality. "When they're relaxed and loose and not uptight about anything, they have a lot of fun. Then they play their best basketball. So we're hoping that some relaxation along the way and good team chemistry might help us in our cause" said Mimnaugh.
Penn State is led by Big Ten Player of the Year Maggie Lucas. The junior guard is averaging 20.5 points per game, she's making 48% (96-202) of her three point attempts and 90% (120-134) of her free throws. Lucas says the Lady Lions won't look past the Mustangs. "We see that everyone in the tournament is capable of beating anyone. Everyone is very talented. Cal Poly has a lot of strengths so we go into the tournament, we don't take them lightly" said Lucas.
One strength the Mustangs might have is Big West Player of the Year Molly Schlemer inside. The 6'5" post won't have as big of a size advantage against Penn State as she's used to in the Big West. "We just want to go out there and play hard, it's what we've been working for. Just all those early practices, all the running, we want it all to pay off and it has so far and we want to keep it going as much as we can" said Schlemer.
In addition to Woodard and Griffin, three other seniors are on their final run with the team. Caroline Reeves, Ashley Cascio and Nikol Allison are facing their final college game.
A 14 seed has never beaten a 3 seed in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
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