By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions have successfully made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2017 WNIT after wins against Ohio and Fordham last weekend. As they prepare to take on Virginia Tech in the third round on Thursday, the team can still hold organized workouts.
"The practice is huge," said head coach Coquese Washington. "Especially when you look at Jaida [Travascio-Green] who got injured late in the season, so she missed a good two and a half weeks of practice with that high ankle sprain. So her being able to have this time to get back into the flow of things and work on some things and learn some things, [it's really beneficial]."
Travascio-Green has seen the court in 29 games this season, starting in 14 of them. As a true freshman, Travascio-Green has never been in this situation before, but the experience of playing in the postseason has already been different than the regular season for her.
"I think it's a good experience because of the 'lose and you're done' mentality," Travascio-Green said. "Every game is worth something and during the season, it's so long that you forget what you're working towards in the end, but in this, it's you lose and you're done for the season so the game are more high stakes."
Washington agrees that playing in these types of games adds to the experience and knowledge that her players have. And with a young team (nine of the 13-woman roster are either sophomores or freshmen), this tournament run will only help them moving forward.
"Just playing in this environment is great," Washington said. "This group, we only played one game in the Big Ten Tournament, so being able to continue to play in the WNIT and play in that kind of pressure where you've got to win to advance, those experiences are invaluable for our younger kids."
Travascio-Green has been joined by her fellow freshman Siyeh Frazier as a contributor on the court over the past few games. Frazier played a career-high 18 minutes in the first round matchup against Ohio and scored a career-high 10 points.
"Siyeh's been playing really good in practice for a few weeks," Washington said. "Getting the opportunity for some extra minutes in the WNIT has kind of given her more confidence because now she can see that work paying off and it's showing on game day."
Aside from the three seniors on the team, no one on the current team has every played in the postseason at Penn State. So, as redshirt Amari Carter said, these games have allowed the team to "get comfortable with what you're supposed to do in these situations."
"I think the experience from this tournament will help us going into next season and get into the postseason next year," Carter said.
The Lady Lions will face the Virginia Tech Hokies on Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m.