By Jeff Sattora,
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- Penn State guard Teniya Page likes Indianapolis and the Big Ten Tournament. The junior dropped a Penn State Big Ten Tournament record 35 points when the Lady Lions took the court here in 2017.
She broke that record Wednesday night.
Page scored 13 of her career-high 38 points in an 18-5 second quarter run to help the Lady Lions push past the Illinois Fighting Illini, 83-57, in the first round of the Big Ten tournament Wednesday night in Indianapolis. The 38 points tied for fifth all-time in a single game in Lady Lion history.
For Page, her success was simple.
"Just make shots and get to my spots," she said on her success. "Have confidence in shooting the ball."
"It's win or go home," she added on the excitement of the conference tournament setting. "I think everyone's competitive spirit is really high. For me personally, knowing it's win or go home I think I'm a little more focused.
That focus paid off, as she finished 14-for-24 on the night, including 4-for-8 behind the arc.
"She's a highly competitive kid, and I think when you get into this environment and this tournament she's going to play at her best," head coach Coquese Washington said on her star guard. "She's really talented and it's awesome to have that.
"Any time, any moment, any game, she can get into a rhythm and she's really hard to stop and hard to defend," she added.
Despite the hot half from Page, the Lady Lions still had work to do after halftime, as they held just a 33-27 lead going into the break. For Penn State, it was about keeping momentum.
"Just doing the things you know how to do," guard Amari Carter said on keeping momentum after the halftime break. "Coming out playing the passing lanes, being aggressive, denying the ball. Making them frustrated and have to make tough shots."
"We just came out with intensity out of the half," she added. "They hit a three to end the half and we were only up six. So just honing in on defense and letting the offense come."
Luckily for Penn State, the offense did come, especially for Page. She kept putting the ball in the hoop as she scored eight of the team's first nine points to start the third, finishing with 15 points in the quarter to go along with her 19 in the first half.
"I pretty much keep everything the same," she said on coming out after halftime. "Take the shots that are given to me, don't force anything and keep shooting."
Even with the offensive scoring, one big key to gaining and keeping momentum, and the team's win, was effort on the defensive end. The Lady Lions held Illinois scoreless for 7:18 in the second quarter, and held the Illini without a field goal for the final 3:10 of the third quarter to give Penn State a 58-43 lead heading into the final frame and help seal the game.
"I thought we did a better job of trying to contest shots going from man to zone and forcing them to try and beat us from the outside," Washington said. "I also thought we did a good job from the second quarter on in rebounding and not giving them second chance points."
As high-scoring as Page was the first three quarters, she scored just four points in the fourth, and it was her teammates that helped close the game.
"It's important for other teams to prepare," Washington said on the importance of the team finishing strong as a group. "You've gotta be aware of Jaida Travacsio-Green, you've gotta be aware of Teniya, Amari Carter, you've gotta be aware of our post play."
"When you've gotta be aware of three or four or five other people, it just opens up the way for Teniya to lead the charge"
Looking ahead, Penn State will need a strong team performance if they look to continue this tournament run. The team will have a quick turnaround and take on the Michigan Wolverines Thursday night. While there is a challenge ahead, the group is enjoying the ride.
"We have a great conference tournament," Washington said. "It's a festive atmosphere. I'm excited to be a part of it, our team is excited to be a part of it and hopefully we can continue to advance throughout the tournament."