By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Lady Lions in the midst of the offseason, there is a new, yet familiar, face walking the halls of the Bryce Jordan Center.
Miriam Powell, the former executive director of Pink Zone, has increased her role with the program and is now the Director of Community Outreach, a position she stepped into in January.
In her new objective with the program, Powell's main focus is creating powerful and impactful relationships within the Penn State and surrounding communities, through service and volunteerism
"My biggest goal is more visibility for Lady Lion basketball outside of the Bryce Jordan Center," Powell said.
Powell has worked closely with the women's basketball team ever since she first became the Pink Zone executive director five years ago. The decision to join Pink Zone was all about timing for Powell, who had moved to the area with one young child and another on the way.
"I was just looking to keep my sanity as a new young mom, and was doing volunteer work in community for the American Cancer Society," Powell said. "One of the other volunteers told me about the Pink Zone opening and thought that based on what I had done for ACS that I would be a good fit."
The position proved to be a really good fit at that time, allowing Powell to work from home and still be around her kids. It also allowed her to build relationships with the community and the Lady Lion program.
Now that her kids are a little bit older, Powell was ready to get back into an office setting. Having always felt that volunteering and community service are important to building character, Powell jumped at the opportunity to apply for the position with the Lady Lions.
"The one thing that I loved most about my years with Pink Zone was getting to know the community better," Powell said. "I just really loved getting to know the people in the other communities so when this job became available and the focus was on community outreach and community service, it was a good fit."
As she settles into her new job, Powell's been busy wrapping her head around all parts of Penn State athletics in what she describes as a "fun and busy" first couple of months. She's excited for what the future holds for the Lady Lion program, both on the court and in the office.
"It's been really fun getting to work more closely with the Lady Lion players, I've loved that part of it," she said. "I love coming to work every day. Every day is different and the people who work in this office specifically are awesome."
As the Director of Community Outreach, Powell plans to use her strength of connecting with people to focus on connecting Lady Lion basketball even more to the community.
"My goal is creating more visibility, and getting the players and the coaches out engaging with the fans that are supporting them now, or lining them up with new fans because of the community service that they do," Powell said.
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INDIANAPOLIS Ind.- The Penn State Lady Lions fought all night long, but in the end it wasn't quite enough, as their Big Ten tournament run ended Thursday night, falling to the Purdue Boilermakers in the tournament's second round, 70-59.
Five points by Kaliyah Mitchell helped spark an 11-0 run to push the 11th seeded Lady Lady Lions out of the gates early, as Penn State turned a 4-4 tie into a 15-4 lead, and 15-6 advantage at the end of the first over the sixth-seeded Boilermakers.
While the first quarter saw a big run for the Lady Lions, the second quarter was Purdue returning the favor. The Boilermakers used a 9-0 run over a three-minute span to cut a 19-10 Penn State lead to a tie game with 3:05 to go in the half.
The two teams traded buckets the rest of the half, and a late jumper by Teniya Page kept the game within one possession, as Purdue took a 28-25 lead heading into the break.
The two squads, who played to double-overtime earlier this season in Happy Valley, continued that close tradition in the second half, as both teams dug in. Junior forward Peyton Whitted was one of the key contributors to the Lady Lions all night long, as she racked up a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds on the night. Head coach Coquese Washington not only saw a great performance out of Whitted tonight, but growth throughout her junior season.
"I thought Peyton was one of the kids on the team that showed tremendous growth over the course of the season," she said. "One of our more consistent players over the course of the season, especially the second half of conference play and really happy with the performance that she had tonight. And I think it bodes well for things to come next year with Peyton."
"Peyton did a great job on the boards, just being aggressive and attacking offensively and defensively so that was a plus," guard Lindsey Spann added on her effort vs. the Boilermakers tonight.
Whitted not only had solid numbers, but key baskets to keep the contest close, including a baseline jumper to cut Purdue's lead to 51-50 with 6:22 to go in the fourth. Despite the late push, that one-point margin would be the closest the Lady Lions got the rest to the night. Purdue answered Whitted's bucket with a 6-0 run to put the game away late.
While the game didn't go the way the Lady Lions had planned, Washington couldn't say enough about her team's effort.
"I absolutely thought that we gave it our all. We left everything we had out on the court tonight," she said postgame. "I thought we started the game off very well defensively. And we continued to do a pretty good job defensively. We just kind of hit a lull offensively and with our turnovers, a few too many turnovers and a few too many second-chance points for Purdue kind of did us in."
"This team is a fighting group, we're not going to give up and we're going to play til the end and the time runs out," Spann added. Mentioning how she's seen this group's mental toughness grow all season long.
That fight and effort will be valuable to the Lady Lions, as they look to build on this week's progress heading into next season. Wednesday's Big Ten first round win was the program's first in the tournament since 2012-13, and Penn State is ready to keep that program momentum moving forward. With the return of tonight's top four scorers next season, including All-Big Ten Second Team selection Teniya Page, who led the team with 18 points, the future is bright.
"It's definitely great to get that (Big Ten tournament win) this year," said Whitted. "We now know what it takes to get that win and keep going in the tournament."
With the strong effort this week, the future, both in the Big Ten tournament, and all season long, is bright for the Lady Lions.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- In college basketball the month of March is all about one phrase, "survive and advance." The Penn State Lady Lions did just that Thursday afternoon, as the 11th seeded Lady Lions took down the 14th seeded Illinois Fighting Illini in round one of the Big Ten tournament, with a 75-66 win.
Penn State got off to a hot start against the Illini, hitting their first three 3-pointers, including back-to-back shots by Teniya Page and Lindsey Spann, to jump out to a 13-5 lead early. The two teams traded buckets the rest of the quarter, as PSU took an 18-14 lead at the end of the first.
The quick start was important for the head coach Coquese Washington, especially in this tournament setting.
"I think it's critical, the start of the game is very important." Washington said following the win. "I always feel the first game in the tournament setting is always the toughest. The stakes are high. I'm really happy we're able to come here and get this win under our belt."
With both teams playing zone on the defensive end, jump shots came early and often for both squads on the offensive end. Penn State shot 5-17 from three in the first half, while Illinois wasn't far behind at 4-10 behind the arc.
While the outside shooting wasn't necessarily part of the game plan, it was all about getting good looks.
"Just taking open shots and seeing where the gaps are and attacking the gaps," said guard Lindsay Spann on the offensive mentality.
The outside shooting, coupled with strong play from freshman Teniya Page, gave the Lady Lions a 37-31 lead heading into the break. Page, a Second Team All-Big Ten and was a unanimous All-Freshman Team selection, led Penn State with 11 points in the first 20 minutes. Finishing the night with a team-high 18 points and nine assists.
"I thought Teniya showed why she's one of the best players and performers in the Big Ten," Washington said on her freshman guard. "When the stakes are high, such as the Big Ten tournament, she shows up and performs."
"It feels good the first game to get a win," Page added. "I think I'll feel a lot more comfortable considering my first (Big Ten tournament) game is over."
Although Page led the scoring category, it was a balanced effort all game long that helped keep Penn State in the game, as four players finished the afternoon in double figures. Peyton Whitted followed Page offensively with 15 points and nine rebounds. While Spann and Brianna Banks added 12 points apiece.
"It's very important to have balance scoring," said Spann on the offensive effort. "When you have multiple people contributing we're a threat from all different areas."
While the Lady Lions jumped out to a quick lead to start the first quarter, the third quarter saw a balanced start after halftime. A driving Illinois layup cut the PSU lead to 46-43, but every time the Illini looked like they were about to turn the tide, Penn State came back and responded.
"Composure is key, basketball is a game of runs," Washington said. "People are going to make shots, you're going to make shots, the thing is you can't fall apart when you've got control of the game."
Keeping control is just what Penn State did, as they held the lead despite each second half Illinois run, and made plays down the stretch to secure the win.
Penn State will look to keep their tournament run going as they take on the 6th seeded Purdue Boilermakers tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET.
By Mike Gilbert
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Wednesday marks a brand new season for the Lady Lions. The Big Ten tournament serves as a chance for Penn State to continue their solid play throughout the second half of the season. Except now, there is an NCAA tournament berth on the line.
The Blue and White will head to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis as the no. 11 seed in the Big Ten. Their first game will be against Illinois on Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Lady Lions handled the Illini in their first meet this season, beating them 65-56 in Champaign. According to assistant coach Itoro Coleman, the Lions can not afford to look past the first game.
"Their record doesn't show it, but they're a better team [than their record indicates]. They've played a lot of teams close and right now, they're looking to go zone make and miss, so we have to work on our zone offense."
Head coach Coquese Washington believes Illinois is a good matchup for Penn State because of the size of the Fighting Illini post players. Penn State will likely start out with Kaliyah Mitchell and Peyton Whitted down low, and rotate players in and out from there.
"I think Illinois is a team that matches up well with us in terms of having big post players. Sometimes for our post players, bigger post players are easier to guard."
Guard Lindsey Spann believes her team will be fine playing on Wednesday instead of on Thursday, believing past experiences can help her club.
"We're doing the same things we've been doing the past few weeks. We've played Iowa on a Wednesday; we played [Maryland] on a Wednesday. So it's the same type of thing where we're just really focusing on us, and taking it day by day to get ready for our first opponent."
One of the biggest challenges facing Penn State is the ability to stay fresh while potentially playing multiple days in a row.
"You train mentally and physically for things like this. It's a long season and we want to keep winning so you do what you have to do. Your body's going to feel tired, but you can do more than what your body is telling you," said Spann.
Spann also detailed the proper way to prepare during the week for the tournament.
"You have to take care of your legs, you have to eat right, you have to get proper rest and you have to get treatment...just trying to keep your legs under you and have the proper energy to get through the week."
To get past Illinois and face Purdue in the second round, Penn State will have to be aggressive on both ends of the floor, but offensively the intensity level must be high.
"I think you have to go out and be aggressive on the offensive end and you have to be aggressive and assertive to get to the free throw line and get easy points," said Washington.
Freshman guard Teniya Page also believes positive thinking will play a big part in surviving and advancing.
"[We need to] take care of the ball and not get discouraged if we don't make the first couple of shots," she said.
The tournament will be an incredible opportunity for the coaches, players and staff.
"When you go out there, there's just an energy when you walk into Bankers Life and you're in that tournament environment, there's an increased energy and I think that that increased energy and adrenaline helps everybody out," said Washington.
Going into the tournament firing on all cylinders, the Lady Lions are hungry for the opportunity to compete against the best of the Big Ten for a spot in the Big Dance. Washington said it best about her team Monday afternoon.
"They want to stay. They want to compete beyond Wednesday."
In order to go dancing, that is exactly what the Lady Lions have to do.
The Big Ten Tournament is set to begin Wednesday, and it serves as a fresh start for every team in the conference. Penn State is the eleventh seed, and is on the bottom portion of the bracket. Here is a brief evaluation of every team on the Lady Lions' half of the bracket
(Teams listed in order of seeding)
The Buckeyes come in as the no. 2 seed in the Big Ten. Ohio State is ranked ninth in the country, but have lost their last two contests. Before that, Ohio State rattled off 11 consecutive wins in conference play, including a win against top-seeded Maryland. Four Buckeyes are All-Big Ten players, including Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston, who are averaging 25.9 and 19.6 points per game, respectively. Guard play is a key for Ohio State.
Going 13-4 in Big Ten play was enough to get the Spartans the three seed in the conference tournament. Four wins in a row makes Sparty one of the hottest teams in the conference. Michigan State has a double-bye, and will face either Penn State, Illinois or Purdue. Forward Aeriel Powers leads the team in points and rebounds, scoring 21.9 points a game and nabbing 9 boards a game.
Penn State nearly beat the sixth-seeded Boilermakers at the Bryce Jordan Center last month, falling in double overtime. Purdue is right on the bubble at 19-10 overall, currently a 12-seed in ESPN's Charlie Creme's latest bracketology. Purdue relies on three guards who average double-figure point totals. No big averages more than 4.2 rebounds per contest.
The Huskers come in losers of 3 out of 4 to close out the regular season. The team does possess wins over Michigan State and Purdue, but their record currently sits at 18-11, 9-9 in conference play. Against Penn State, Natlie Romeo had 32 points, while Jessica Shepard scored 29. Then, in Lincoln, the freshman Shepard had 20 while Romeo dropped 19. This forward/guard combo can score.
The Scarlet Knights check in as the Big Ten's no. 10 seed. They have dropped 8 of 11 to finish the campaign. Penn State beat Rutgers handily in their lone matchup. Their "big two" consist of guard Tyler Scaife and guard/forward Kahleah Copper.
The Illini face Penn State on Wednesday and are the no 14 seed. They have solid post play in Chatrice White and Alex Wittinger, and play mostly zone defense. Illinois only has two conference wins on the season.
By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Candice Agee to Brianna Banks dish-and-score in the fourth quarter may not have looked like anything special, but to the seniors, it put an exclamation point on their last game at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Agee and Banks led the Lady Lions to an 81-68 win over Iowa (17-12, 7-10 Big Ten) Wednesday on Senior Night, where they, along with three managers, were honored in a pregame ceremony.
The duo made the most of their night, combining for 38 points and eight steals. But it was the layup by Banks in the final minutes that was the most meaningful stat for both of them.
"I love when we have our interactions and stuff like that because it makes it special for the fans and everything," Agee said in an enthusiastic postgame press conference. "You get a great pass, a great assist or a great rebound and then you get to do a little point to each other and that's awesome."
"I feel like the whole game, we were vibing, so that was just another pass, another point to make this night even better," Banks added.
From start to finish, Agee and Banks were the stars of the show for Penn State (11-17, 6-11 Big Ten). They combined for the first 11 points before another Lady Lion was able to get a basket. And while early foul trouble forced Banks to sit out for chunks at a time, she made the most of the 23 minutes that she played.
"I'm good for at least two charges a game so that's not shocking," joked Banks before getting more serious. "The last one I fouled because I don't like giving up layups and I'm intentional about that, so it wasn't emotions. Learning to be smart with fouls is something that I need to face, but it wasn't emotions, it was just dumb mistakes that I made."
Agee posted 21-points on the night, tying her career-high for the third time. The career outing was something Agee had almost expected of herself, seeing as she always plays her best basketball in front of her dad. And with Rodney Agee having flown in from her home state of California to watch his daughter play at the BJC one final time, Agee knew it was going to be a big night before it even happened.
"There's something about [my parents] being in the crowd that makes me want to go above and beyond and that's what they do for me," Agee said." I keep trying to tell [my dad] he just needs to quit his job and follow me around; I'd be an MVP."
The center tacked on one block and three steals to her career night, and topped her previous high of six free throws by sinking seven.
"It didn't surprise me at all tonight," said head coach Coquese Washington. "I know that Candice is capable of having big games and she's certainly capable of being a big impact player, so it didn't surprise me that she was able to have the night that she did. I'm really happy for her, that she was able to close out her career with a game like this; it's something she'll remember for the rest of her life."
Despite the victory, both Banks and Agee agreed that it wasn't the best game of basketball that the team had played this season. Citing that they blew a 25-point lead in the third quarter, the team knows that they have to play their best if they want the coveted first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament next week.
"This win is helpful with the rankings, of course, in the Big Ten Tournament," Banks said. "We're constantly talking about playing Thursday and not Wednesday and not playing five games in a row, so this game meant a lot with our rankings in the tournament."
When both seniors were subbed out of the game for good in the final seconds, the Jordan Center gave each a standing ovation. Washington was happy with how the two ended their careers at home, and couldn't have asked for anything more from them.
"They both played the way you hope seniors play in their last home game," Washington said. "The emotion of a senior's final home game, it can go one of two ways; they can have that energy and it can propel them to having a fantastic game like these guys did, or sometimes the emotions can overwhelm you and you're not on your game. So I was really happy to see that both Candice and Bri played really good games."
By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Candice Agee went from freshman to senior in the blink of an eye. On Wednesday night, she will be playing in her final game at the Bryce Jordan Center in her Penn State career, as the senior prepares to finish the year strong then chase her WNBA dreams. She and fellow senior Brianna Banks will be the focus of the senior night celebration before the game in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Head coach Coquese Washington knows it will be her job to make sure emotions do not get too far away from the basketball court.
"Senior night is always an interesting night because you never know how emotional the impact will or won't be for the seniors. It'll be interesting to see how Bri and Candice handle the emotions around senior day, and I know they're both excited to play in front of our fans one last time."
Agee said her favorite moment in the Bryce Jordan Center was when her team won the Big Ten regular season championship her sophomore year. Along with the championship, the Pink Zone game and senior night were all part of that night's festivities.
"My mom, my dad, my brother were there and the crowd did not leave, the crowd stayed there for 30, 40 minutes after the game was over just to see everything and they stayed cheering the whole time. That was awesome," said Agee.
This year, Agee's father, Rodney Agee, will be in attendance on senior night, and will be with his daughter on the court before the game. Agee's parents had never missed one of her games up throughout high school, and she started playing basketball when she was four years old. Agee said whenever her father is in the stands that she always plays better. She even laughed about how ready her dad was to be part of senior night.
"He told me he has his outfit picked out and everything," Agee said with a laugh.
"I'm from California, so they don't get to come out too much, so it means a lot for him to be here. [He and I] are very close," added Agee.
As for what Agee will do upon graduating, she envisions a future playing professional basketball.
"I plan on entering the draft and then if that doesn't work, I'll go to some camps and see if I can get picked up there. If that doesn't work out, I'm headed overseas."
Agee says Spain would be the place she would want to play overseas, but if she were able to play in the WNBA, she would like to play for the Los Angeles Sparks, and would like to learn from all-time great, Candace Parker.
"She's unstoppable, I'd love to play behind her," said Agee.
Washington believes Agee has the skill-set to continue playing, and reminisced about her career wearing Blue and White.
"Candice is one of the most talented post players I've ever coached and she's got great hands, great footwork, and she has really impacted us," Washington said. "She got in the record book for blocked shots. So it's the last time for our fans to see them in the friendly confides of the BJC."
As for the task at hand, Penn State still has an opportunity to gain a higher seed in the Big Ten tournament with a few wins and a few losses by Iowa. As luck would have it, the Lady Lions face Iowa on Wednesday. Agee will not let her emotions get in the way of competing against the Hawkeyes.
"[The emotions] will kick in after the game," she said.
For Agee and Banks, it is time for one last postseason push. To Agee, it seems like it was only yesterday she was a freshman.
"I'm about to graduate. It really does fly by."
But before nostalgia kicks in, Agee and her team have some work left to do.
By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Things are getting busy for the Lady Lions from here on out, as a two-game road trip will be played this week, followed by two more conference games before the Big Ten tournament. The team will be busy this week, traveling to go play at Northwestern Wednesday night, before coming back to State College until Friday, when they will travel to Ann Arbor to face Michigan.
With four regular season games left to go, the Blue and White have
turned up the intensity and level of play, recently playing great stretches of
basketball including a great win on the road against Michigan State and a near
victory against top-ten team in Ohio State.
That stretch could have the team excited to play in the Big Ten tournament,
but according to assistant coach Kia Damon, there is still much to be done in
the regular season.
"We know [the Big Ten tournament is] on the horizon, but we haven't given a lot of time talking about it with the team," she said. "There's so much still to be settled in the conference in terms of seeding and things of that nature, so I firmly believe a lot of this will come down for a lot of teams to literally the last regular season game of the season, solidifying seeds and really knowing where you stand."
Certainly, seeding is extremely important in the all-important conference tournament, so the fact that Penn State is playing good basketball with just four games left in conference play is also an important factor going down the stretch. Fifth-year senior Brianna Banks knows the importance of the final few conference contests.
"We are focusing on one game at a time, but everything's for a bigger purpose. It is in the back of our minds that the Big Ten tournament is something that we really want. It's a goal of ours. But we also know we have to win each game to get there," said Banks.
One of the big perks of winning the final games down the stretch is getting a first round bye in the tournament.
"We want to play Thursday not Wednesday," added Banks.
It starts with Northwestern who, like Penn State, has markedly improved over the course of the season.
"We just continue to keep it simple. Practices are maybe an hour if that, so we want to save our legs. But, we just focus on what teams are doing and a team like Northwestern, even if their record doesn't reflect it, they're playing really well right now," said assistant coach Itoro Coleman.
After the Ohio State game, the team got a needed day off. Tuesday during practice, the focus was on half court defense and offense, but rest at this time of year is crucial. After traveling to Northwestern, the squad will head back for classes Thursday and Friday, then leave Friday for Michigan. After that, it is senior night against Iowa, then a road game versus Indiana. That stretch closes out the regular season before the Big Ten tournament.
"We just want to be playing our best basketball and we've put a lot of emphasis on suring up our defense, and if you look at the past couple of games, we've held our opponents below their scoring averages and we've turned up our defensive intensity and energy. We really just want to be playing at our best and were pleased with the progress were making," said Damon.
Playing good basketball is never a bad thing with four regular season games remaining until conference tournament time.
By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 50 seconds remaining in the first half against Ohio State Sunday afternoon, Penn State was in danger of heading into halftime down double digits, but guard Lindsey Spann was playing too well to let that happen. Spann drove to her left into traffic and kissed it off the glass with that left hand to put her team within five. From there, it would be a fight until the finish, with the Buckeyes pulling out the win, 77-63, Sunday afternoon.
Spann was impressive throughout, dropping 21 points and going 4-7 from behind the arc. She was also very impressive playing defense at the top of the key, communicating well at the top the 2-3 zone.
"I thought Lindsey did a really good job at the top of the zone and trying to slow them down so they didn't get many transition points, so she was good at the top of the zone along with what she did on offense," said head coach Coquese Washington.
One could hear the communication all the way from the top of the stands in press row, as Spann and the other players were constantly calling out screens and defensive schemes to help each other get into sync.
"As a team we know what we're capable of, so every night we're coming out focused on defense and being aggressive and that's something we've been working on," said Spann.
Spann acknowledged her good day shooting from the field, but was more upset with the outcome.
"I was shooting when I was open, and I took advantage of areas where I thought there was good opportunities, it doesn't matter. We lost, and I don't like to lose."
Yet after a win on the road against 15/17th ranked Michigan State, and a tight loss to a top ten team in Ohio State, things are trending upward for Washington's team, and she feels the club starting to gel.
"I thought it was a good week for us in terms of how we played, how we competed against two of the best teams in the country, so certainly I think we're moving in the right direction."
"It doesn't happen overnight. Again, this is a team that we've had pretty much since conference play and it has taken us the entire conference season to develop our rhythm and chemistry, trust and communication. I've seen this in practice. I'm just happy now that it's starting to show up on game day," added Washington.
Penn State went with a small lineup for most of the game, with Spann, Teniya Page and Brianna Banks each playing at least 38 minutes. All of the guards reached double digits in scoring, with Page adding five assists. The Buckeyes hit 13 threes on the other side of the floor, making it challenging for Penn State to hang tough, but that's exactly what the team did, as it was a one-point game with under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Penn State (9-16, 4-10) will play its next two on the road, first at Northwestern on Wednesday whom they defeated earlier in conference play, then in Ann Arbor three days later to play Michigan who beat the Lady Lions in a nail-biter in January.
The most important thing to take away from the Ohio State game is certainly Penn State's ability to fight and keep itself in games, as that is a good trait for a team to have so close to the Big Ten Tournament.
By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the end of the season gets closer and closer, the Lady Lions are entering the part of the season where they will be facing opponents for the second time around.
The Lady Lions travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State tonight at 6:30 p.m. and will try to avenge the 71-55 loss they suffered at the beginning of January. After that, three of their five remaining games will be against opponents they've already faced this year.
Head coach Coquese Washington and her staff have been evaluating the teams' performance in the first matchup to determine what went wrong and what went right.
"You look at what went well the first time, what areas of improvement we need to see from the first time, and then also looking at what they have been doing since we've played them," Washington said. "Are they doing some different things, have they added some stuff, doing some things maybe a little less than they did the first time?"
It's been over a month since the Lady Lions and Spartans first met, so both teams have had a substantial amount of time to get better and get more experience for younger players. So while Penn State has been improving their game in that time, Michigan State has been, too.
"It's been a while since we played them so it's almost like scouting them for the first time," Washington said. "It's been so long in between games that they've had quite a bit of time to adjust things and change some things. But there's some familiarity, especially for some of the younger kids, Teniya, Ashanti, they've seen the team, they've played them so they kind of have a little bit of familiarity with the personnel and what they're like."
Junior Peyton Whitted remembers the first Michigan State game well, and knows that the team has a lot to improve on before tip at the Breslin Center. A big focus in practice has been working on boxing out and grabbing rebounds. When Michigan State traveled to Happy Valley in January, the Spartans outrebounded Penn State 50-35.
"They're a really good rebounding team, we got outrebounded so we just really have to pound them on the boards," Whitted said. "Their posts are very strong and big, they run the floor very well and they have really good guard play. So we just really have to be aggressive with them and be aggressive with their post players and box them out."
While playing a team a second time may seem like it has its positives, it comes with its challenges as well. Teams don't want to go into the game expecting one thing and seeing something completely different, so focusing on the team itself and not previous games is a must.
"I think it's harder facing the team the second time, whether you beat them or you lost to them." junior Kaliyah Mitchell said. "You played them one time so you kind of know each other's strengths and weaknesses so going into playing them another time, we just have to key in on some of the things that we've been doing great and try to make those things better and try to pull out some wins this second half."
Both Whitted and Mitchell agree that, despite the challenges, it's a plus being able to face the same team twice.
"It helps that we have played them, we know what to expect," Whitted said. "Right now we just have to look at if they've added anything new to what they've been doing, but the preparation's the same and it helps as far as personnel because we know who we're playing against and what they do, and it's better to see it a second time around."
PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In a game that coach Coquese Washington called a "natural rivalry," the Lady Lions fell to Rutgers 74-62 on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Despite the loss, guards Teniya Page and Lindsey Spann kept the game close while scoring 18 and 13 points, respectively. They did it without Brianna Banks, who sat out for much of the game with foul trouble.
Even though she ended up playing only 20 minutes, Banks still finished with double-digits in points, scoring 12 for Penn State.
"[Banks sitting out] certainly changes our aggressiveness on offense," Washington said. "She's our second-leading scorer and she takes a lot of attention away, which opens things up for other people, so when she's not in the game, it definitely takes some of our biggest weapons away."
Without Banks, Page and Spann were left to lead the Lady Lions as they tried to overcome a deficit as large as 20 points at times. Like many games this season, Penn State was outscored in the first frame, making the rest of the game a game of catch-up.
"I thought this was another game where in the first quarter [we didn't play well]. After that we pretty much played them even," Washington said. "There were some spurts where they got ahead and then we had some spurts where we came back but we never really could overcome that eight-point deficit from the first quarter."
Page's 18 points on the day bring her career total to 359, moving her to ninth all-time for freshmen at Penn State. She surpassed Tanisha Wright, who had 355 points during the 2001-02 season.
"I'd rather win than crack [the top 10 freshmen scoring]. So it's not a big deal to be honest. I didn't know anything about that," Page said.
Banks only played nine minutes in the second half, but added eight points to her final total, including the games final points with eight seconds left.
"She's the best penetrator on the team so not having her out there today, driving to the basket, definitely affected us the most so [it's] a big loss," Page said.
As the Lady Lions look ahead to Michigan State on Thursday, Washington said the team will be focusing on rebounds
"Rebounding is certainly going to be big, Michigan State is a very good rebounding team and they do a fantastic job on the post," Washington said. "So making sure we're doing a good job defensively because Michigan State, especially at home, they're a team that can get on a roll so we have to have a high level of defensive intensity."
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