By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Teniya Page burst onto the scene last year as a highly touted true freshman and followed that up with a stellar sophomore season this year.
Page was named First Team All-Big Ten this week after averaging 19.4 points per game, good for No. 25 nationally and No. 5 in the Big Ten. That's more than four points higher than her 15.3 ppg last year when she was named Second Team All-Big Ten by the coaches.
Improving her aggressiveness in the past year was key for Page to avoid the sophomore slump. Her confidence in herself and her teammates has also gone up, and it's shown on the floor.
"I think the biggest improvement has been my aggressiveness and having a lot more confidence in myself and my teammates to help me out and get me open," Page said. "A big thing that people have always told me is 'individual accolades come from team success' and I probably wouldn't have made first-team had we not had so much team success."
"It's her taking advantage of her matchup and she's become a lot more aggressive this year and a lot more confident," Washington said. "I think she has a lot of trust from her teammates and the trust that her teammates have in her has allowed her to be a lot more aggressive and assertive and willing to take over the game and play big."
Even as a young player, Page is very knowledgeable of the game and is always trying to get better. Her "bring it everyday" attitude has put her on a mission to make every play her best yet and has helped her to "play big in the biggest moments," according to Washington.
"Teniya, she's in pursuit of the perfect basketball play every single time down the floor," Washington said. "She's got a high basketball IQ and one of the thing's we've encouraged her to do is broaden her view of what the perfect basketball play is because sometimes that means her doing some things that you can't draw up on a play board."
Page is in elite company as a Lady Lion first team all-conference honoree. She's the first to receive the honor since Maggie Lucas got it in 2013-14 and is just the sixth Penn State sophomore to get the award. Page joins Lucas, Alex Bentley, Kelly Mazzante, Tina Nicholson, Angie Potthoff, and Tanisha Wright as other sophomores to be named to the first team.
Having coached both Lucas and Bentley, Washington sees a lot of similarities between Page and the two Lady Lion greats.
"The one thing she has in common with some of those other players is her competitive fire," Washington said. "She loves and wants to win. Maggie Lucas wanted to win every drill in every practice, Alex Bentley wanted to win and that competitive fire is the thing that fuels her and I think that's another intangible that really makes her special."
Despite the comparison to Bentley and Lucas, Page remains humble about the honor - she was asleep when it was announced and didn't find out until someone texted her. But for her, it's not about the individual accomplishments, and it never has been.
"It wasn't a dream or goal or anything, it was kind of something that just happened," Page said. "I just go play and see what happens [but] to make it as a sophomore is a good thing. [My dream is] to win. 20-wins [in a season], win a Big Ten championship, play in the [NCAA] tournament, a Sweet 16 appearance, possibly an Elite Eight. So just win."
Page will look to make at least one of those dreams a reality this week when the No. 7 seed Lady Lions take the floor for the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis. After securing a first round bye, they will face No. 10 seed Minnesota on Thursday with tip set for 6:30 p.m.