By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Finals may be approaching as the school year comes to a close, but it was a year of growth for the Penn State Lady Lions in the 2016-17 season. The squad experienced its first postseason play in three years with a WNIT berth and put up a school-record-tying 16 wins at home including the postseason, equaling the 2002-03 squad's total.
When looking back, head coach Coquese Washington said it was a good year and her favorite part was how the team continued to improve after each test the players faced.
"Over the course of the season, this team got a lot better," Washington said. "We were a better team in March than we were in November and that's a testament to the work they put in and their desire to be better, their desire to represent Penn State and represent this program at a high level."
At the heart of that constantly better unit was guard Teniya Page. Page, only a sophomore, was the team's undeniable leader on offense. She led the team in scoring with 618 total points on 44.5 percent shooting from the field and 44.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. Her ability to take over games was a huge benefit as her four 30-point outings propelled her to fourth all-time in the Penn State career rankings with five total. Her point total was the ninth-highest ever recorded by a Penn Stater in a single season, while her average of 19.9 points per game allowed her to claim the seventh-highest such average in program history.
These accomplishments did not go unnoticed, as Page was named an All-American honorable mention by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). With the bestowment, Page joined Kelly Mazzante as the only other Lady Lion to accomplish the feat as a sophomore.
Page, along with fellow guard Amari Carter, are expected to set the tone for the returning squad this upcoming season. Not only did the two set the tempo each and every game, but they were No. 1 and 2 on the team in assists and shared an incredible chemistry that Washington said words can't describe.
"They kind of have a secret language, a secret guard language, and they would have full conversations without ever saying a word," Washington said. "I think that chemistry is just going to make them that much more dangerous next year."
The talented guard duo, along with the rest of the young roster, will have to fill the shoes of a veteran trio in Peyton Whitted, Sierra Moore and Kaliyah Mitchell whose careers in Happy Valley have reached a close.
The three contributed in large amounts and leave gaps to fill across the board. Together, they combined for 23.3 point per game, 16.4 rebounds per game and averaged 1.3 blocks per game last season. Still, while it may be tough to see the seniors go, coach Washington says she is more proud of them than anything.
"I don't think you ever feel hurt to see the seniors go, it's more you're like a proud mother," Washington said. "They're 17-18 years old [when they arrive] and then they leave and they're young women. You look at how much they've grown, you look at how prepared they are to go out into the world and make a difference, and so I'm excited for them, I'm excited for their futures."
As summer approaches, Penn State will enjoy the summer while
it can, but it won't be long before it's time to get back in the gym and start
working towards an even better season in 2017-18. Next year shows a lot of promise
with the number of returners and experienced young talent, but only time will
tell what the squad will do once it steps back under the lights of the Bryce