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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the final media session of the season unfolded last week at the Bryce Jordan Center, there was a sense of quiet optimism present with the Lady Lions. While the team faced its fair share of adversity throughout the year, plenty of positive trends emerged as the team looks toward making a run come next winter. 

The Lady Lions had no seniors on the 2017-18 roster which, despite not having that definitive veteran leadership presence, allowed several young players to expand their roles and enhance the way they could contribute to the team.

"There were some things that I was pretty pleased with throughout the course of the season," head coach Coquese Washington said. "Alisia Smith's growth was one, I thought as a freshman she had a lot more post presence for us and we definitely needed that. Amari Carter made a big jump from her freshman year as well, being a double-digit scorer and being more aggressive in finding her way." 

For Carter, she saw this season as an opportunity to grow together, and she knows how important this offseason is if the Lady Lions want to come out with the right energy next year.

"It helps a lot, having everybody coming back," Carter said. "We know each other's tendencies but we also plan to get better over the summer, have people work on their games. We're going to adjust to new strengths and new ways that people have improved in the offseason."

The Lady Lions are searching for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014, and the team hopes back-to-back NIT appearances have given them valuable postseason experience that they can use to their advantage moving forward. The goal is to return Penn State to its Big Ten powerhouse status of the early 2010's. 

"Certainly the goal is to be in the NCAA Tournament, and you take the whole season to try to get there. We definitely want to be back there to represent ourselves and represent Penn State," Washington said. 

It's an old cliché that championships are won in the offseason, and the Lady Lions will have a prime opportunity to get their season off to a right foot over the summer. 

Every four years, the NCAA allows teams to take an international trip, and its the Lady Lions' year now to cash in on that opportunity. They will head to Spain this summer to travel as well as play in some exhibition games. It's the first time since 2012 that Penn State has gone abroad, as they traveled to Italy and France that summer. 

Some may remember Penn State men's basketball taking a trip to the Bahamas in the summer of 2017, and Washington sees a lot of potential parallels between the men's team's experience and that of the Lady Lions.

"Last year, the men's basketball team played a lot of freshmen and sophomores, then went on a foreign tour and got the extra practice time," Washington said. "They got started a little early on the season and I think you saw that experience pay off for them this year. I'm confident and optimistic that we'll have the same type of payoff."

Not only does the trip allow the team to play the extra games, but it also serves as a chance to further bond over a new experience for some. 

"Everyone's really excited about it," junior guard Teniya Page said. "For some people, it's their first time going out of the country, and being able to spend additional time with one another in a foreign country and experience that together will help in a lot of different ways."

"I think it's a great experience. Some of the best ways to learn about other people are through food and through music in their culture. That's an easy way to dive into someone else's lifestyle," Carter said.

In addition, the summer trip allows for more practice time in the offseason. Usually, teams are allowed only two hours of practice every week over the summer. But with the foreign trip thrown in, that allows for a full 10 days of practice before they head across the Atlantic. 

The trip is scheduled for some time in August, although specific dates are yet to be announced.

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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The stakes were high. The stage was set. The game was hanging in the balance.

As had happened so many times this season, Penn State junior guard Teniya Page found herself with the ball in her hands late in the game with a chance to win it for the Lady Lions. 

She wasn't able to complete the play, but had another chance in the closing seconds of overtime with the Lady Lions down one. She put up a contested three, which fell short, as did Penn State's bid to reach the second round of the Women's NIT.

The Lady Lions were quelled by Radford, 63-62, on a night that the Blue and White didn't play its cleanest basketball but still had chances to win late.

 Penn State head coach Coquese Washington hinted at the offense not quite getting into its flow on the final possession of overtime.

 "In regulation, that play was by design," Washington said. "In overtime, we had a little bit of a miscommunication coming out of the timeout. We didn't get the shot that we wanted." 

Despite coming up just a few inches short, the Lady Lions put themselves in position to earn a victory with a strong third quarter star, spearheaded by Alisia Smith. Smith had six quick points at the beginning of the frame and 11 on the night. 

"I took a different approach coming out [after halftime]," Smith said. "In the first half, I didn't play too well but I tried to make up for it in the second half." 

Smith was one of three Lady Lions in double figures on a night that no one player emerged as a dominant scorer.

Penn State turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 19 Radford points. The offense rushed itself a tad at times, leading to difficult passes and some hard catches on the offensive end. 

 "John Wooden had a famous saying: 'Be quick but don't hurry,'" Washington said. "I thought there were times when we hurried rather than playing at a fast pace." 

The game did provide opportunity for some valuable playing time for youthful Lady Lions, including freshman Sam Breen, who had four rebounds in six valuable minutes off the bench. 

"Sam is someone I think that over the course of the latter half of the season has really improved," Washington said. "Her confidence has really improved so that we're able to put her out there in moments and games like this and have those be productive minutes. Her knowledge of the game has really improved so that she can contribute in doses in games like she did today." 

Breen is just one example of this young Penn State team, one with no seniors on the roster. It's games like these, in a postseason atmosphere with high stakes in a down-to-the-wire game, that allow a young team to grow. 

"A lot of people who were returning didn't have a lot of experience or a lot of minutes on the floor, myself included. We know what we can do now and we look forward to building on that next year," redshirt sophomore Amari Carter said.

With the book now closed on the season, the Lady Lions can turn their attention to the offseason and 2018-19. It's only a matter of time before this team returns to championship form, and the youthfulness of this team will lead to an aggressive veteran team next year and beyond.

"When I look back at the recent history [three straight Big Ten championships from 2012-14], one thing we had in common with all those teams was senior leadership," Washington said. "One of the things this season does for us is that it gives our juniors an opportunity to understand coming into next year how hard it is to contend and how much work it takes."

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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After being a role player for much of the regular season in 2016-17, Then-freshman Siyeh Frazier found her rhythm in the Women's NIT at the end of the year. Frazier was one of a few Lady Lions to emerge into the spotlight in last year's tournament, including notching a season-high 10 points in a first round win over Ohio. 

Fast forward one year, and the Lady Lions are back in the Women's NIT, hoping for another deep run in the postseason. The Lady Lions won two games in the tournament last year and the team believes that was only the beginning. 

For players like Frazier, who may not always be a prime contributor in the regular season, the postseason gives them a chance to showcase themselves and improve on the big stage.

 "That time last year really helped with my confidence and being more aware of the game," Frazier said. "I think I use my confidence when I'm actually playing, knowing that I actually can make a play versus second-guessing myself over and over until I finally do it."

Frazier credits her increased role in the WNIT last year as a stepping stone for her growth this year, helping her in several different aspects of her game.

"I've improved on my ability to be more versatile," Frazier said. "Like if [head coach Coquese Washington] wants me at a different position, remembering the plays and at different spots being able to consistently play defense." 

Washington has seen the impact that the increased playing time had on Frazier a season ago, and hopes that is a trend for some other young Lady Lions.

"[Frazier's rhythm] started late in the season in the conference tournament and then she had a little bit bigger role in the NIT," Washington said. "I'm hopeful that that same kind of experience, being out there and making mistakes and playing through them, will be out there for everyone on this team." 

For a team with no seniors, any extra basketball is a bonus as the team continues to build chemistry. Many of the Lady Lions have little to no postseason experience, as nine of the 12 players played in their first Big Ten Tournament just two weeks ago. 

"Those are the kind of numbers that make you start thinking about your team in [a young] way," Washington said. "Now we go into postseason play, and it's a very similar thing. Besides Amari, Teniya and Jaylen, nobody else on our team has played in the postseason." 

Not only is the postseason an invaluable chance to build chemistry, it also allows the team to spend a little more time together bonding before a long offseason awaits.

"For us right now, it's just about having fun and playing together. We usually do our best when we're playing together and having fun with each other," Washington said. 

 Despite their success in the Women's NIT last year, Washington doesn't put much stock into that performance. The Lady Lions look at this tournament as a new opportunity. 

"All tournament play is unique and interesting in its own," Washington said. "It's never the same. Every game is its own experience and I think that's what makes it fun and fresh." 

The Lady Lions draw Radford in the first round, a team that prides itself on the defensive end of the court. The Highlanders surrender only 52.3 points per game, good for fifth in the NCAA.

"They don't score a lot of points, but they also don't give up a lot of points," Washington said. "I think it's their system that makes them effective. I wouldn't say they're Virginia men's basketball, but they're going to get back and make you play half-court offense." 

The Lady Lions hope to combat this style of play by being aggressive in transition, relying heavily on guards Amari Carter and Teniya Page to push the pace.

"We've got to get as many easy baskets as possible and try to put pressure on their transition defense," Washington said. "They don't really have a star player, it's a sum of their parts. They like to play fast and they like to slow you down on defense. It's interesting because there aren't a lot of teams like that." 

Tip off from the Bryce Jordan Center is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday. The winner will face the winner of James Madison and East Tennessee State in the second round.

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By Jeff Sattora, GoPSUsports.com
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-  The month of March is a time of win or go home in basketball circles.  When a postseason tournament tips off, the pressure rises.  Win or lose, with that pressure comes learning experiences and the chance to grow, both for the upcoming games and seasons ahead. 

The Penn State Lady Lions were unable to keep momentum going from an 83-57 Big Ten Tournament first round win against Illinois Wednesday night on Thursday, falling to the Michigan Wolverines, 77-48, in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.  Despite the outcome, there are still positives to take away from the first few days of March.      

"For a lot of these kids it's their first Big Ten Tournament and understanding the rigors of it," head coach Coquese Washington said on the week.  "Playing back-to-back is tough and just understanding that. That's one of the positives we'll take out of it."

Two Lady Lions playing their first time in the tournament, freshmen Alisia Smith and Kamaria McDaniel, echoed their coach's statements on the takeaways, especially the quick turnaround of games.    

"I feel like it was a good experience, playing teams back-to-back.  I felt like I got to know more how the game is, playing in this tournament is a really big thing," Smith said. 

"Playing against some of the best players in the country and getting that experience and seeing the things we have to work for next year," McDaniel added on what she can take away.  "Just being out there, that whole experience was good."  

The game against the Wolverines, originally scheduled for a 9 p.m. tip, didn't get rolling until just past 9:45 p.m. due to Indiana and Michigan State going into four overtimes in the previous game.  Despite the schedule change, the Lady Lions didn't get out of their normal routine. 

"I don't think it changed anything," Washington said on the later start.  "We were ready to play, Michigan is just a really good team and they played well and were hitting on all cylinders." 

While Michigan was hitting shots, the Lady Lions weren't able to overcome a tough outside shooting first half, going 1-for-9 behind the arc in the first 20 minutes.  That one make was a 3-pointer by Teniya Page as the first half ended, bringing the score to 32-20 at the break. 

Even with the late bucket, Penn State was not able to bring the game any closer in the final two quarters, bringing their tournament run to a close.  

Page came off her Penn State tournament record 38 points in round one with 12 points against the Wolverines, leading Penn State in the scoring column.  She was followed by Amari Carter with eight points, and Jaylen Williams and Alisia Smith with seven points apiece.   

Looking at a bigger picture outside of the week, the team has seen growth all year long. 

"They've grown a ton.  Just their understanding of what we need to do and how to execute," Washington said.  "The thing we have to work on is just our consistency and that comes with experience, that comes with just being out there and playing."  

"The team has grown a lot.  Our chemistry together and just playing together, getting a feel for each other's games," McDaniel said.  "I feel like we did a great job of that."     

"It's encouraging seeing how much we've grown, individually and as a whole," she added.  "We've gotten a lot better and seeing how we match up against these teams is great for us to carry on."  

Penn State is hoping to have a few more games to play this season, as the squad will await postseason tournament selections in the coming weeks. 

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By Jeff Sattora, GoPSUsports.com
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." 

 

 

 

 

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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three years into her time with Penn State women's basketball, Amari Carter is making the most of her time in the Blue and White. She waited, rested, and watched as she missed both her senior high school and college freshman seasons with ACL tears, but now, in her second year as a full-time starter, she is continuing to make a mark on the Big Ten.

One of the premier defenders in the league, Carter totaled 78 steals in the regular season for an average of 2.6 steals per game. Both of those averages are good for second in the conference.

Carter's defense helped propel her to a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, a recognition she does not take lightly.

"It's just a nod from the other coaches and different people around the conference recognizing the work you put in," Carter said.

Head coach Coquese Washington has seen Carter improve and grow stronger over the year, citing the road Carter has had to battle back from in order to garner the recognition she deserves. 

"Amari had to recover from two consecutive ACL injuries, missed two years, spent a lot of time in the training room. To finally get back close to the form she was at before those injuries, I'm really happy for her that she was able to get that accomplishment and recognition," Washington said.

Defense is an area of Carter's game that the coaching staff has stressed since the beginning of the season, sensing her court anticipation and ability to step into passing lanes to create havoc in the fast break. Her speed is a factor as well, making her one of the most dangerous perimeter defenders in the conference. 

"It's one of the things we challenged her to be better at this year. We wanted her to be a two-way player and impact the game on both ends of the court. Over the course of the season, she really picked that up," Washington said. 

While many players thrive mostly on the offensive end, wanting to focus on scoring and flashy offensive moves, Carter prides herself in her defense and ability to give opposing coaches headaches.

"I definitely improved in that area, and it's fun. It's fun getting steals and getting into the passing lane, being like a safety in the back of the zone. I can get my hands to the ball so we can get out and run," Carter said. 

Carter is joined on the All-Big Ten list by junior guard Teniya Page, who picked up her third All-Big Ten honor and second first team recognition. Like Carter in the past, Page has had to overcome injury this year, meaning much of her award can be attributed to her mental strength as well as her abilities on the court. 

"Teniya broke her ankle in August, it was a long road back and she didn't play the season 100 percent, still isn't 100 percent. I think it's a testament to her mental work because it was a lot of mental work she had to do this year to get back to the form where she was a first team player," Washington said. "I'm thrilled for both of them [Page and Carter], just because of what they've had to overcome."

The Lady Lions have a chance to extend their season this week at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Penn State has a potential to play five games in five days if they are to advance all the way to the championship game.

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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Sunday marked a cause for celebration at the Bryce Jordan Center, as over 500 breast cancer survivors and their families were honored at halftime as part of Penn State's annual Play4Kay Pink Zone game. 

It wasn't quite a storybook ending on the court, as the Lady Lions fell, 89-64, to the No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes, but the experience was still something to appreciate for the Lady Lions in their final regular season game. 

"It was really cool to be in this atmosphere," sophomore Jaida Travascio-Green said. "Last season, I didn't get to play in this game, so this was my first Pink Zone game. My family is here, friends are here, there's just a ton of survivors. Playing for someone outside ourselves was a great thing to be a part of." 

Penn State's partnership with the Pennsylvania Pink Zone, now in it's 12th year, has seen serious growth that has impacted head coach Coquese Washington and the players in a very special way.

 "It's truly a special experience and I'm really pleased with what we do on this day to honor survivors and honor their families," Washington said. "We want to make this a day that the players can remember outside of the basketball court. Just knowing that there is a community of people that care, that are willing to help make survivors' lives better, make their treatment better and work to find a cure." 

Travascio-Green had a day to remember for the Lady Lions, as she was able to hit her shots early and fuel the Lady Lion offense. She finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. 

"This was a big game, in terms of adrenaline and one of those things. My teammates found me when I was open and I'm glad I was able to hit them," Travascio-Green said.

Her teammate, junior guard Teniya Page, reached a milestone as well, scoring 19 points on the day to move into 13th on the all-time Lady Lions scoring list (1,525 points). She passed Vicki Link, who had 1,514 points in her career from 1984-87.

The Lady Lions were met with another prolific scorer, as Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell led all scorers with 22 points. Mitchell became the Big Ten's all-time leading scorer in men's or women's basketball earlier this season.

"[Mitchell] is just a really good all-around player, she can do it all," Travascio-Green said. "She's faster than any other player I've ever played against, and it's a team effort to guard her. It's just so hard to stop her because she's so good all around and just great at so many things."

Ohio State's defense came to play as well, holding the Lady Lions to just under 38 percent shooting on the day. 

"Ohio State did a really good job trying to contest shots," Washington said. "They just tried to make us work offensively. I thought we had some opportunities as well early in the first quarter that we didn't take advantage of. If we can do that, maybe we'd get off to a little bit better start." 

The Buckeyes clinched the outright Big Ten championship and will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament. Penn State draws the No. 11 seed and will take on No. 14 Illinois in the first round of the tournament on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

VIDEO: Locked in on Finding the Cure

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's basketball pinked out the Bryce Jordan Center Sunday, locked in on finding the cure for breast cancer. In its 12th annual Play4Kay game benefitting Pink Zone, the Nittany Lions hosted 530 survivors for an afternoon filled with celebration. 

"I am really pleased with what we do on this day to honor survivors, honor the families that are supporting their loved ones that are going through this and making this day a day they can remember outside of what happens on the court from a basketball standpoint," Penn State head coach Coquese Washington said. "Just knowing that there is a community of people who care and there's a community of people who are working to help make survivors lives better, to make their treatment better and working to find a cure."

From survivors to previvors and those working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring life to such a special event, take a deeper look at some of the storylines from a day dedicated to hope and perseverance.

Checking in with Penn State's Pink Zone Survivors
Penn State's 530 survivors arrived by bus, entering through a dedicated entrance following registration. At registration, each survivor was given a light up bracelet to shine brightly during halftime recognizing a total number of years each individual is cancer free. Spanning all ages, each survivor has their own story and their own way of inspiring others. 

Meet Pink Zone Coordinator Roberta Hardin
Having once come to the Play4Kay benefitting Pink Zone as a survivor, Roberta Hardin is now helping to pull the event together. As the Pink Zone Survivor Coordinator, Hardin has worked behind the scenes organizing the special day. Hear Hardin's story below. 

Pink Zone Previvor Arlene Williams
At the age of 18, Arlene Williams tested positive for a BRCA breast cancer gene mutation that had already made a significant impact on her family. With Williams' mother thankfully a breast cancer survivor, with family history in mind she made the decision to have a prophylactic mastectomy to eliminate her risk. Hear Williams' story below. 

Sarah and Lisa McMurtry
Breast cancer touches the lives so many, including the McMurtry family. For Lady Lion senior Sarah McMurtry, each Play4Kay game benefitting Pink Zone means so much more than hoops. Joined by her mother Lisa, a breast cancer survivor, they recap the day. 

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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just last weekend, Penn State THON raised over $10 million in support of pediatric cancer research and treatment.

On Sunday, the Lady Lions will do their part in the fight against cancer, honoring breast cancer survivors in the team's annual Play4Kay Day. 

Play4Kay is a national event across women's basketball intended to raise money for breast cancer awareness, first started in 2004 by the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Yow was the head women's basketball coach at North Carolina State for 44 years, and lost her battle with breast cancer in 2009.

Fans and players alike will be dressed in pink for Sunday's game, as the team will wear its alternate pink jerseys. For head coach Coquese Washington, it presents an opportunity for the Lady Lions to be a presence in the community and be a part of a special cause. 

"We look at this game again as something where we celebrate the survivors, we celebrate the families who supported the survivors through chemotherapy and treatment," Washington said. "Really it's just a big ol' party at the BJC. We just want the atmosphere and the celebration to be reflective of the energy that the survivors carry. That's what we try to do, and typically it's a great day." 

The Play4Kay game, formerly known as the Pink Zone game, is one of the most well-attended games of the year, as fans of the Blue and White are eager to show their support for the survivors and their families.

"The popularity of this game has everything to do with this cause that is really important, and particularly important to women," Washington said. "Many people have been touched by cancer in some way, and this game has really grown because it's about much more than winning and losing. Here at Penn State, it's an opportunity for us to celebrate survivors that have fought through this disease. It's one of those things where we can draw inspiration from the survivors." 

Washington was one of the main voices in bringing Play4Kay to Penn State in its early days, understanding the impact it could have on the young women on the team and in the community. She is amazed at the way this charity movement has grown and hopes it continues to move forward in the future. 

"I've helped with the incorporation of our Pink Zone and the Pennsylvania Pink Zone," Washington said. "We've just outgrown our office and we saw this as something we could do on the side. It's such a tremendous event and it took a lot of time and planning, so we got a board of directors and a fantastic group of volunteers to run everything. Susan Woodring, our executive director, is fantastic at what she does."

For some Lady Lions, breast cancer has touched close to home. Junior forward Jaylen Williams is very familiar with the disease and what its recovery process entails, as both her grandmother and aunt are breast cancer survivors. Her aunt beat breast cancer just recently.

"I was so little when my grandmother had cancer and I don't really remember it, but now that my aunt went through it and I was around for it and understood the relevance, things like the Play4Kay game mean a lot," Williams said. "Our culture, the culture of every team really, is how it's always bigger than us. THON and the Play4Kay games are just some events that make us realize this is bigger than the game. It means a lot for so many people, and it's awesome that we can make an impact in the way that we do." 

Williams understands the sense of unity that's going to be inside the arena as well, as players, fans and coaches can bond and celebrate over conquering cancer, an incredible accomplishment in every way. 

"I look at the game as a big community. We're all wearing pink, we're all supporting a good cause and here for a good reason. A lot of people in the arena will have known somebody or even they themselves that has had breast cancer. It's awesome to see how many people are in support of us," Williams said. 

For Washington, the game presents a unique opportunity for the players, as they can truly feel like they are playing for someone else.

"It effects a number of players who have someone close to them that's been effected," Washington said.  "Moms, aunts and loved ones who've overcame this disease and fought through. This Sunday is an opportunity for them to go out and play for somebody other than themselves, and that's why this team really looks forward to this game." 

The Lady Lions play host to Ohio State. Tip off is set for 12 p.m.

By Brian McLaughlin, Student Staff Writer GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions are a guard heavy team this season, but one of their strongest post players and leading rebounder, De'Janae Boykin, has provided great balance on the floor. 

Boykin has been a great addition to Penn State since transferring from perennial power, the University of Connecticut (UCONN). She has always been a top player on the court but finds great inspiration from her brother Joshua off the court. Joshua has been legally blind since birth but has always been a great presence for De'Janae. 

"Growing up we've always gone to school together; we've always just been that brother-sister duo no matter what. So him just doing his thing, and knowing he has this disability, I know he is still striving because that's what everybody else is doing because he wants to be treated like everybody else," Boykin said. "Just seeing him doing that has helped me be able to come here and play basketball and be a leader for him." 

Boykin has been a true leader this season for the Lady Lions, averaging 8.2 rebounds per game. She also adds 6.1 points per contest. While just a sophomore in eligibility Boykin has added a veteran presence to the team even though she is still getting into the speed of college basketball. 

"De'Janae is really still learning the college game and has not played significant minutes for almost three years before this season despite her immense talent," head coach Coquese Washington said. "She didn't play her freshman year at UCONN then had to sit out part of last season because she transferred here then got hurt and couldn't play the full season. She is still growing and improving every day just like the rest of this young team."

Boykin's journey has not been exactly ordinary for her path to Penn State, and one of the biggest aspects to her transfer to Penn State was to be closer to her family. 

"My family comes as much as possible to watch me play. I am from Maryland so just like three hours away isn't that bad," Boykin said. "He (Joshua) doesn't always come up because he doesn't really like basketball and can't really focus in that well on it."

While it is difficult to take in a game for Joshua, advances in technology have helped him watch his sister play.

"He has these binoculars that really help him focus in on the games and get to see some action," Boykin said. "He also has glasses that help him see every day and help his vision a lot but the binoculars really help him pick up basketball and the speed of the game."

Boykin is extremely proud of her brother and knows he is on the path to success. She sees how hard he works and knows it gives her no excuse.  Something that drives her mentally in her games. While she misses being with him in school every day, they will always have a special bond.

As is the case with most students in college, Joshua has been able to make his passion a potential future career. 

"He plays video games 24/7. He goes to school every day (he is in college now) comes back home and plays video games all day and every day. He even creates games on the computer and things like that so he is really into it and seems really good at it. He is definitely going to try to make a career of it," Boykin said.

As Boykin's sophomore season is beginning to wind down she hopes her family can make it to a few more games, including any postseason opportunities the Lady Lions might have. She will continue to strive to adjust to the college game and emerge as a strong scoring threat in the post as well as her rebounding prowess. As her game evolves, the inspiration from her brother will always be the driving force in her play.

@GOPSUSPORTS

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