By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coquese Washington stresses the same thing every season, no matter how old her players are, no matter how much experience they have, no matter what: play your best basketball in March.
"When you look at our last ten games, we [have played very well]," Washington said. "I thought we continued to grow over the course of the season. As disappointing as this loss is right now, when you look at the totality of our season, this team has accomplished a lot."
After missing the postseason the last two years, the goal for Penn State this year was to get back into playing meaningful March basketball, which is exactly what it did.
"I'm really proud of how this program has grown over the course of one year," Washington said. "Where we were last year as compared to where we are now, there's no way I am going to sit here and bemoan the way this program has grown within the past twelve months."
With a young team this year, any postseason experience was a step in the right direction moving forward. Sophomore guard Teniya Page, who had a stellar sophomore season to follow up a record-breaking freshman campaign, says the team learned a lot about when it comes time to survive and advance.
"I think we learned that it's hard after the regular season. It's hard once it comes to win or go home," Page said. "Every team plays hard because it's potentially their last game. I think that's what I personally learned and I think as a young team that's what we learned."
In the game, Page became the ninth Lady Lion to reach 600 points in a single season, ending the year with 618. Her 23 points on the night gave her double-digits for the 16th straight game as well and 1,107 points for her career, good for No. 31 on the all-time Lady Lion list.
As the team heads into the offseason, there's a lot they learned this year that they can carry over into the 2017-2018 season. And as long as the Lady Lions continue to grow, the sky is the limit.
"I'm really proud of what this team accomplished this year, especially with our team being so young. I think our future is really bright especially with the players we have returning," Washington said. "Like Teniya [Page] said, the team learned a lot about what postseason play means, what it's going to feel like and how you have to perform during the season, to perform better at this point in the season. I'm really proud of the kids."
The Lady Lions finish the year with a 21-11 record, including a 9-7 record in Big Ten play. Penn State thrived at the Bryce Jordan Center this season, finishing 16-2 at home with the only losses coming in the Big Ten opener versus Indiana and this WNIT loss to the Hokies.