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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It has been a goal all season of Penn State head coach Coquese Washington to play the game at a high pace offensively and take advantage of fast break opportunities. 

Wednesday night the Lady Lions will take on a team with a similar style of play in the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who love to run the floor and shoot 3-pointers.

"I hope it's a high scoring game, they are a team that likes to get up and down the court," Washington said. "They have four guards that can shoot the ball with tremendous range and can stretch the floor and open up driving lanes."

In a matchup that is likely to feature star guards on either side, both teams will battle for control of the game.

"I am just going to try to stay in the flow of the game, rebound so we can run," point guard Teniya Page said. "We can defend well as well as run so we just have to stay confident and we will stay right with them."

Coach Washington also believes that while shootouts can be fun, those games are won and lost on the defensive end. 

"Somebody's got to get stops. So I think the team that gets the most stops has a good chance," Washington said. 

While the focus on defense gets ramped up prior to potential high scoring contests, Penn State spends a lot of time working on running its break trying to give a young team more experience. 

Guards primarily handle the ball in transition and Penn State has had an advantage quite a bit this year led by Page and Amari Carter. Both can push the ball up the floor and distribute as well as create their own shots. 

"When (Amari) has the ball in her hands and is pushing tempo that bodes well for our team," Washington said. "We will talk about both her and Teniya running the floor and ways for them to control the pace."

The two Penn State captains both are very comfortable with the ball in their hands, and use their instincts to make the right reads.

"I have been playing basketball for a long time and I think for a lot of people those reads come naturally," Page said. "It's almost instinctive and we practice up and down a lot so it's almost second hand nature when it comes to making the right decision."

Both Carter and Page average over 15 points-per-game as well as multiple assists per contest. Feeding their teammates on the break is a big aspect of a successful transition game. 

"Our bigs are another element running the floor. Everybody has to run," Washington said. "It's all about everybody getting on that horse and running at full speed." 

Page is one of the few players on the Lady Lions with a lot of experience as she is now in her third year in the starting lineup as a junior. Penn State does not have on senior on its entire roster, so Page has had to use that experience to lead her team on the court. 

"When I have the ball on the break I have to make the right decisions and decide when to run or not." Page said. "As a leader I am usually one of the ones who can feel the flow of the game and adjust our pace during the game." 

One of the things Washington wants to work on most only comes with more practice, and that is decision making. The more comfortable the players are, the easier those decisions become.

"It's about chemistry and all about reads when running the break. The more comfortable making those reads the more effective we are, so as long as we keep working at it the more we will improve." 

Washington understands moving forward how important playing at the right pace is and how this can give her team an edge. She knows not everyone will want to play quickly against her team, so her players have to be the aggressors.

"You have to be committed and disciplined and not allow the other team to set the tempo or set the pace. There are some games where we are good at that," Washington said. "That's something we've got to get better at. With a young team they have a tendency to want to go out and feel the game out, so we have to try to go out and impact the game right from the beginning."

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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While most students had the past few weeks off for winter break, Penn State's women's basketball was hard at work. By the time classes start again, the Lady Lions will have played six games over the break, including their first four of the Big Ten season.

The team's first two opponents weren't exactly Christmas gifts, as the Lady Lions drew then-No. 19 Michigan and then-No. 14 Maryland. Yet, despite not quite being able to pull off the upsets, those games certainly provided insight into what the team needs to build on in the future. 

"It definitely sets the tone," head coach Coquese Washington said. "To start off with two of the best teams in the conference, it gives us a measuring stick for how we need to improve going forward."

With the coming of 2018, the Lady Lions look to have turned over a new leaf as well, picking up their first conference win over Indiana. With the team finally healthy, Washington views this next stretch of games as a potential turning point in terms of building up team chemistry.

"We've had a lot of people in and out of the lineup with injuries, and we're not where we wanted to be when the season started," Washington said. "We've had everybody back for about two weeks now. I wish we had that training camp right now, but we'll make it work." 

One of the bright spots so far for the Lady Lions has been freshman forward Alisia Smith, who picked up her first career double-double in the Dec. 20 game at American with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Smith is averaging 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds on the year, and has appeared to take that next step towards understanding college basketball and thriving in this environment. 

"It's getting easier to play, and everything is starting to slow down now. I'm starting to get a better feel of how it is on defense, especially in man-to-man because the girls are really fast," Smith said "Coach always told me that starting in January, things are going to get slower. It's all just starting to make sense now." 

Smith credits a lot of her development to junior Jaylen Williams, who plays a similar role on the team to Smith and has the maturity to draw off of to help Smith transition to the college game.

"She plays more than me so she has that experience. I just looked for her to help me be comfortable and things like that," Smith said.

The American game wasn't the only notable one for Smith over the holidays, as the trip to Michigan allowed the Lansing native to return home and play in front of her family.

The game reminded her of her younger days playing basketball with her support network in attendance, as well as giving her time to reflect on the influences she had in her life that led to her playing college basketball. 

"I would credit my dad for everything, without him I wouldn't really be playing basketball. He taught me all the fundamentals and keys to basketball and how to get better," she said. "I had a lot of family come out to support me that day and it was a lot like a high school game where I just felt comfortable."

That game, as well as the two following home games, provided a window into the challenges facing Smith in the Big Ten, but she's not one to shy away from a great opportunity. 

"I'm expecting a lot of players that are stronger and more physical, but I'm just looking forward to be able to see how it is going up against those players," Smith said. "It's very important to mentally prepare for what the opponents have to offer going against me."

"The game is starting to slow down for her, she has that ability to get to the foul line and make free throws. She's getting tough inside on defense as well and starting to get some tough boards," Washington said "She's fast in the full-court and the half court. Her speed in the post is something we really value. There's just so many things that you're going to see night in and night out. For her to be at that comfort level playing in Big Ten competition, she's coming along." 

Smith and the Lady Lions hit the road again on Saturday to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m.

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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - All season, Penn State Lady Lions' head coach, Coquese Washington has stressed how young her team is, and that constant learning that takes place.

The Lady Lions do not have one senior on their roster, which is composed of five juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen based on their eligibility. 

"We've got a lot of weapons, and I think our best games this year have been when we have utilized all those weapons," Washington said. "If we can find a way to be more consistent in that and find a way to get those contributions every night, I think we will be in really good shape going into conference play."

The freshmen in particular have had to step in right away and contribute big minutes especially when Teniya Page missed time early in the season. In particular, in Page's absence freshman guard Kamaria McDaniel has stepped forward playing almost 23 minutes per game and has averaged just under 10 points a game at 9.6. 

"Coming in I wasn't going to be able to take that many shots," McDaniel said.  "I have to get in the game and I have to knock down shots. Because I know when I get in the game I have to make those shots. Coach has done a great job of putting me in spots to be successful and my teammates do a great job of getting me open." 

Other freshman Alisia Smith and Sam Breen have both contributed in all nine of Penn State's games so far. Both have lower numbers than McDaniel, but have never the less gained experience in each game played. Breen is a forward with the ability to stretch the floor from 3-point range, and Smith, another forward has shown physical play on the post early in her career.

Against Wake Forest on November 30, the Lady Lions were faced with a press. After at first being taken aback, the team was able to adjust and conquer the press in the second half. It is that ability to learn on the fly and take coaching that has made the young players so special.

 "We don't try to worry about limiting mistakes, its learning from them, so we aren't making the same mistakes again and that's one of the things I liked from the Wake Forest game," Washington said. "We made the adjustments within the game and worked from there."

Since the game against Wake Forest the Lady Lions breezed through a win over Manhattan, and won a hard fought battle against Fordham. Coming off of those wins, Penn State will next take to the road and travel to St. Bonaventure on Saturday. The team knows how important it is to bring energy while on the road, especially off the bench in the form of McDaniel. 

"It's just about being competitive, I love to see us winning and that just drives my energy," McDaniel said, "I just try to come in and see what the team needs and bring that and if it's the energy then that's what I will bring." 

Washington has added that while the team is young, they are ready to play against anybody. The trust in teammates has gone a long way in their ability to adjust and improve throughout games.

"I think we are growing by leaps and bounds; we seem to take big steps from game to game. We had some big growth in Vegas and I think that's a credit from their willingness to learn lessons from watching and learn from each other and go out there and try something differently," Washington said. "They have to have trust in themselves and trust in each other that they can go out and make adjustments on the fly and I think that's how they are going to grow over the course of the season." 

Moving forward, Breen and Smith will work to continue to see their playing time grow throughout the season and contribute on the court, adding to the work McDaniel has already done. Against Fordham, Smith saw seven minutes of action and picked up time late in the game to help seal the victory.

Something that has allowed McDaniel to see large quantities of action is her great self confidence in her game. 

"She (Kamaria) has come in with a lot of confidence as a freshman and her confidence didn't get shook by any means with having a game where she was 0-5 against Wake Forest. That didn't shake or rattle her confidence. She got back in the gym and got to work," Washington said. "I think it's really uncanny for a freshman to come in with that kind of confidence in their abilities and it doesn't rattle them from having a different role than she did in high school. I think that is one of her strengths and I think that has allowed her to be successful early this year." 

Along with McDaniel's confidence in herself she has no doubts about how good this team can become.

"We are confident in each other and a confident team is a scary team," McDaniel said. "We believe in what we can do. We are going to go out and execute the game plan every night. We are going to worry about ourselves and control what we can control and bring the energy." 

The young Lady Lions are learning and growing each day on the court, and when you add confidence to that mix, there is nowhere to go but up.  

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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Down 54-44 to Fordham with just under six minutes left in the game, it didn't seem like the Lady Lions' night.

 They were being outrebounded by 20, including a difference of 18 on the offensive glass. The Rams held a 20-2 advantage on second chance points, and had five scorers in double figures, including a double-double from their center, Mary Goulding.

Who the Rams didn't have, however, was Teniya Page, as she proved once again why she is the leader of this team and one of the best players in the Big Ten with an outstanding fourth quarter to give the Lady Lions a 65-60 victory Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Page made her last five shots on the night, and shot a scorching 11-for-15 from the field in only her fifth game back of an offseason injury. She also added a season-high 27 points and team-high eight rebounds, all part of a 16-0 run late in the fourth quarter to bring the Lady Lions all the way back and give them the lead for good. 

"It's always a part of the game plan to get Teniya shots, because she is an incredible shot maker," head coach Coquese Washington said. "She's still feeling her way and I think it's tough when you don't play basketball for months and jump back in the middle of the season. I think tonight, it finally came together in the fourth quarter. But we don't want to be a team that has to rely on Teniya having fourth-quarter heroics." 

Shot selection changed for Page in the fourth quarter as she got more and more into a rhythm, and she just got hot at the right time when her team needed it the most.

"There were shots that were open in the first three quarters that I just didn't take," Page said. "Coach told me that I needed to be more aggressive, and that's what I did."

Page's comeback efforts on the offensive end were supplemented with much better defense and rebounding, as the Lady Lions made Fordham look lost down the stretch and force a lot of questionable shots.

Forward Jaylen Williams was a big reason for that, coming up with two huge blocks late in the fourth quarter at a point where every possession was so valuable to the Lady Lions. 

"Jaylen's blocks were really big," Washington said. "We talked in the timeouts about how we needed to get stops. We had been playing zone, and we got some big defensive rebounds. We decided to go man-to-man when we were up three with about 45 seconds left, and Jaylen came up with a big block to get the ball, and we were able to go down and get to the free throw line." 

The Lady Lions were much improved on the defensive side, as Fordham shot only 18 percent from the field in the fourth quarter and managed only 11 points.

"We talked about some rotation things that we needed to do better, and we wanted to do a better job contesting shots," Washington said. "In the first half, they got too many wide open looks, and we certainly didn't want to give them that. I thought in the second half, we did a better job of moving and contesting their threes in the zone."

Rebounding was a drastic turning point as well, as the Lady Lions pulled down 12 in the fourth compared to only 11 in the other three quarters combined. It was the only quarter in which they outrebounded Fordham.

"I thought the last four minutes of the game, we did a much better job securing defensive rebounds," Washington said. "The first three quarters, they were a lot more aggressive. But that aggressiveness, at the same time with them going to the boards when we actually got defensive rebounds, we were able to get going in transition." 

While it wasn't the most conventional win for the Lady Lions, it was the third straight as they now move to 8-2 on the year. Penn State next travels to St. Bonaventure for a 7 p.m. game on Saturday.

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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a long day to be a Manhattan guard, as Penn State women's basketball's relentless pressure helped lead the Lady Lions to a 78-46 victory at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The Jaspers had their hands full from the start, as Penn State came out in a full-court press for a significant portion of the first half and disrupted Manhattan from initiating any sort of offensive flow. Manhattan had 21 turnovers on the day, leading to 18 easy fast-break points for the Lady Lions. 

"It's good that we can be aggressive at the beginning. We like to be disruptive and not let our opponent settle into an offensive rhythm and offensive confidence," head coach Coquese Washington said. "It was good that early on we got some deflections, which made them a little more concerned about breaking the press as oppose to running their offense. That helped us get out to an early lead." 

Penn State's suffocating defense held the Manhattan starters to only four points in the first quarter, and the Lady Lions enjoyed a 26-11 lead after one period. 

Sophomore guard Amari Carter was a huge factor in the press, as her active hands grabbed four steals.

"That's always the plan. Get out, get fast, get some deflections and steals. We played some great defense all day and got ahead of the pack," Carter said.

The defensive intensity was one of the main reasons Penn State was able to take a 16-point lead into halftime, despite having a stretch of 5:21 without scoring a point to end the first half.

 Washington attributed the success to consistency, as the team is starting to feel increasingly cohesive in the ninth contest of the year.

"I think we're starting to develop an understanding and a rhythm," Washington said. "You need that sixth sense when you're out on the court like you know where everyone is going to be. Every game, we get a bit more comfortable in our rotations on defense."

The Lady Lions put forth a very balanced scoring effort as well, as five different players reached double figures on the afternoon. Carter led the way with 16, including connecting on both of her attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite not making her usual dent in the stat sheet quite yet, junior guard Teniya Page totaled seven points in 25 minutes of action. Now in her fourth game back healthy and second game starting, Page has been consistently building up her minutes back to where they were a year ago. 

Her impact can undoubtedly be seen on the court, especially with some of the younger players who have been looking for a leader to emerge.

"We're getting a lot more comfortable in our rotation. We have a lot of young players, and they need the experience of practice and games. There's a certain rhythm that you get into in games and they just need that experience," Washington said.

The Lady Lions excelled at the charity stripe as well, knocking down 22 of their 25 free throw attempts. Free throw percentage will be huge once conference play comes around, so the coaching staff has made it a point of emphasis early in the year. 

"We've made them shoot a lot of free throws because it's important to take advantage of a lot of those opportunities when we get them. When people are getting to the line, focusing and knocking them down, it's certainly helpful," Washington said. 

The Lady Lions look to continue their hot start on Wednesday against Fordham. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. from the Bryce Jordan Center.

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By Brian McLaughlin GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State used a strong second quarter to open up an early 20-point lead over the Wake Forest Demon Decons, and held on to win 68-58 Thursday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.

In the second quarter the Lady Lions held the Demon Decons to just six points, a season low in one frame on the year for Wake Forest.

 "I thought our bench came in and gave us some good minutes especially in that second quarter. Siyeh Frazier and Kamaria McDaniel came in the game and gave us some good energy and we did a nice job contesting shots," head coach Coquese Washington said. "Credit Wake Forest they made some adjustments in the second half . Thankfully we had a cushion and we were still aggressive and assertive on the defensive end."

Teniya Page made her junior season home debut for Penn State in the win, scoring 21 points in the victory.

"It was really great to get back home. I just felt more comfortable and relaxed playing at home than on the road,' Page said.

Penn State started the second quarter with a vengeance, going on a 9-0 run to start the quarter. To end the quarter, Wake Forest did not hit a field goal over the final five minutes.

 The second half was not as kind to the Lady Lions as Wake Forest cut the lead to as few as seven points with one minute remaining in the contest.

"We are still really young and they we just do some dumb things sometimes because of our youth. I told them in the locker room, what I was really pleased with was we were really able to make adjustments," Washington said. "Some of the mistakes we make are just from a lack of experience. We hadn't really been pressed all year until tonight, so the first couple possessions we were pressed and we didn't make the smartest decision, but we were able to talk about it. They take coaching very well."

 Wake Forest came in to the game having out-rebounded five of its six opponents, but the Lady Lions won the rebound battle 48 to 45 behind 11 from De'Janae Boykin.

"I think every game I play physical and that is kind of what I bring to the team," Boykin said. "I like rebounding. It's kind of my thing and it's something I do."

The difference for the Lady Lions came down to free throw shooting, as they connected on 28-for-33 for 84 percent from the charity stripe. Page in particular was effective from the line, going 10-for-11, including some big free throws to close out the game late in the fourth quarter. 

While hitting such a high percentage of shots from the free throw line, the team struggled from the field. In fact, both teams struggled offensively on the evening, neither shooting over 35 percent from the field. Neither the Lady Lions or the Demon Decons made a 3-pointer until Jaida Travascio-Green connected with 17 seconds remaining in the first half. 

"I was pleased to see us shoot almost 85 percent from the free-throw line. We need to continue to work on offensive execution and I think there were times when it looks really good and times when it could stand to use some work," Washington said. "I think the thing we tried to do was be physical and attack. That's something we didn't do when we were away from the BJC and in Las Vegas. We weren't aggressive and assertive and I thought we did a better job of that tonight."

Penn State returns to action on Sunday to take on Manhattan at 2 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. 


By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's basketball is back home from Las Vegas, and the Lady Lions are back to full strength as well for the first time this season. 

Teniya Page, who had missed the first five games of the season, returned in last week's games, logging significant time in both contests. 

Page, a preseason All-Big Ten performer, had been sidelined with an injury, but her return made an immediate impact on the team.

 "Being able to go out there for 20-plus minutes on back-to-back nights was a real plus," head coach Coquese Washington said. "She showed her scoring ability in her limited minutes and she's just a really talented player. We're happy to have her back."

Page scored a combined 19 points in the two games played, but understands there is still a lot of work to do to get back to the level she was once at. It's a challenge she embraces but she's glad to at least be back into game action.

"It was weird, sitting out five games and not really doing any game-like situations for a couple months. But its fun to be back out there with them," Page said. "It's going to be a work in progress for me and probably the rest of them playing with me and the way I play now." 

Washington has seen Page's entire recovery progress, and is impressed with how the guard has handled the situation and how quickly she has bounced back. But, like Page, Washington still knows the time it will take to fully strengthen.

 "I thought she did really well. When she finally came back to practice, we were starting games. Some of her practice times in terms of getting up and down the court was limited," Washington said. "It's obviously a work in progress. Teniya isn't quite up to the pace that we've seen her at before and it's going to take her some time to get back to her top speed on the court. Once she gets a few more games under her belt, then I'll be able to assess [how she is playing]."

Aside from Page's return, the Las Vegas trip was a positive for the Lady Lions in other ways too. It was the first extended road trip of the season, and it allowed the team to become more familiar with each other moving forward into the rest of the season.

"It was a great experience for us from a basketball standpoint," Washington said.  "Playing different teams back-to-back simulates our postseason play. With this young team, that experience was absolutely critical."

It was also a key trip for sophomore guard Amari Carter as well, who had been thrust into a leading role in Page's absence. She perhaps benefitted more than anyone by Page's return and it showed in Las Vegas. Carter tallied a career-high 24 points in the Louisiana Tech game, Page's first one back.

"Amari is so talented, so athletic, so gifted. She makes the hard plays look really easy," Washington said. "I think her confidence level is at an all-time high, and now with Teniya back on the court and [Amari's] high level of confidence, we have a pretty good backcourt." 

"For Amari, being able to stay healthy and get a full summer of getting better and working out, it shows in the way she is playing right now," Page said. 

The Lady Lions host Wake Forest Thursday (Nov. 30) as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, an event Washington loves because it allows the team to measure itself against some of the best competition from another top-tier conference. 

"You learn how to play against different styles of basketball. In our conference, what's important is that our coaches have very different styles of play. We're not characterized by other conferences where everyone kind of plays the same. Being able to play against different styles is important. Our three freshmen saw time [in Las Vegas], and the more experience they get, the better we become," Washington said. "Wake Forest is going to give us another opportunity to gauge ourselves against top-level competition. Their guard play is very dynamic. They push tempo and they rebound very well, so our perimeter defense is going to be challenged to keep that three-headed monster under lock and key."

Thursday's tip against the Demon Deacons is set for 7 p.m. The Lady Lions will also host Manhattan this weekend on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.

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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This week is not your typical road trip for Penn State women's basketball, as the team travels across the country to Las Vegas for the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout this Friday and Saturday. 

This week provides the Lady Lions with not only a chance to see a different part of the country, but also adjust to life on the road for an extended period of time in an unfamiliar area.

The four-day trip allows the team to come together as a unit so early in the season, an opportunity that doesn't come around very often but is so critical to a team's success.

"It's a great trip in terms of chemistry," sophomore guard Amari Carter said. "It allows us to be comfortable traveling across time zones like we will later in the season and also allows us to connect of the court, in the hotel, out in the city, wherever that may be."

There is one contrast from the rest of the season in that the Las Vegas climate is very different than the one the Lady Lions will see in University Park and around the Big Ten, but the team looks at it as an opportunity to relax (at least before their games start) for a couple of days out in the warm weather.

"It's good to get away, out in the fun and sun," head coach Coquese Washington said. "We're getting some much-needed rest as well. We've played five games in 12 days so far, and it's put a lot of miles on their legs. Mentally, this is a chance to recover and relax." 

As for the games themselves, to be played at South Point Arena (just south of the main strip), the Lady Lions will certainly be tested against two of the better programs in the country.

Louisiana Tech has long been a respected name in women's college basketball, reaching 13 Final Fours and winning three national championships in their storied history. As for Kansas State, the Wildcats have been a mainstay in the top 25 in the last 10 years and have always contended in the Big 12. 

"This competition prepares them for different styles that they don't usually see in the Big Ten," Washington said.

The format is also something not usually seen during the regular season, as playing on back-to-back days presents a unique challenge to the team.

"It's definitely a precursor for postseason games," Washington said. "We're going to have to play back-to-back games in the Big Ten Tournament, and this provides us with an opportunity to get used to doing that. It helps in the NCAA Tournament as well, as the format is structured with sets of two games in three days."

This kind of trip this early in the season has been critical for the freshmen, as they are still adjusting to the college basketball life and are not really used to traveling long distances with the team. It has led to them becoming closer with the team and more comfortable with themselves.

"They're all getting adjusted to their roles and the expectations for them on this team," Washington said. "I've been impressed with them so far, but this is an incredible opportunity for them to grow." 

"They've made all kinds of strides," Carter said. "They're comfortable seeing game action again and, more importantly, they're becoming comfortable with the team and each other. They jump right in there, playing hard even if they don't always know exactly what's going on. But they're never afraid to ask questions and always willing to learn."

 In addition to complimenting the freshmen, Carter has had quite a bit of adjusting to do as well, as she is the team's leading guard for the time being. In a group with so many underclassmen, Carter has taken her leadership role and ran with it over the first few weeks of the season.

"I'm definitely talking a lot more, directing traffic better," Carter said. "It's been a transition for sure as the leader of this team, but I'm confident in where I'm at right now." 

"We put a lot of pressure on our point guards," Washington said. "Amari has more than risen to the occasion, taking control and ownership over this young team. She's been an integral part of our success so far."

The Lady Lions hope that the success that carried them to a 5-0 record so far in this young season will continue this weekend for a couple of quality wins.

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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Throughout a four-year college career, athletes tend to evolve and mature both as players and as people. Whether that be adding something new to their game, or just improving at a weakness, this is a goal of almost every basketball player.

In one offseason, sophomore Jaida Travascio-Green has transformed from a spot up sharp shooter to a legitimate scoring threat from everywhere on the floor. 

"This summer I definitely got a lot stronger just physically. It started last year but just having a full year of strength and conditioning and just actually playing at the college level," Travascio-Green said. "Then increasing that this sophomore summer and coming back and feeling more confident and being able to step into a bigger role has helped me." 

Adding to her outstanding touch from three, she now also employs a strong dribble drive allowing her to get to the basket and finish through contact.

In Penn State's matchup against Drexel on Sunday, Travascio-Green showed off her development with a career day. She finished with 31 points and seven 3-point field goals, both of which were career-highs. 

"As a freshman playing on a senior and veteran laden team, she had a smaller role doing a great job of spreading the defense. That was one thing we talked about working on over the summer, adding some different elements to her game," head coach Coquese Washington said. "Being able to put the ball on the floor, and get to the free throw line. Last year I don't even know if she shot 10 free throws for the season and we talked about adding that to her game."

In the game against Drexel, Travascio-Green went to the line four times and went 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. It is not just additional scoring that has become a part of Travascio-Green's new role on the Lady Lions. She has become a leader for the team especially with some of the captains struggling with injuries. 

"With Teniya (Page) being out and when Amari (Carter) hurt her finger, she was out of practice for a week and a half, Jaida has done a really good job in that time of stepping up into that leadership role," Washington said. "I think she has warmed up to the idea of having a little bit more of a leadership role on the team than we probably expected coming into the season."

Carter and Travascio-Green are both sophomores who have big roles on this team. They have been able to earn respect from their teammates not just from their special play on the floor, but in the way they carry themselves off the court. 

"They (Travascio-Green and Carter) are really positive people, they built great relationships with their teammates and their teammates trust them," Washington said. "I think that allows them to be good leaders and the consistency and relationships with their teammates."

The sophomore duo has stepped forward in Page's absence on the court as well. Carter's control of the action has been critical, and Travascio-Green's scoring has powered the Lady Lions to a 3-0 record. 

"I think I just try my hardest to give energy where I can and talk as much as I can. I try to support our captains as much as I can too," Travascio-Green said. 

In the most recent game for Penn State they defeated Marshall 80-65 behind 20 points from freshman Kamaria McDaniel sparking the Penn State offense. McDaniel is one of many Lady Lions who have felt impact of the strong leadership on this squad.

"We have great leaders, with Amari, Sarah (McMurtrie) and Teniya our team captains are always helping me if I am confused they help clear things up. And even off the court I can trust them and I think that transfers on the court because we know we have each other's best interests," McDaniel said. "Jaida is the same, if I need anything I know she will do the best she can and helps on the court. With shooting threes and scoring, she has a lot she in her game that I want to put into mine."

As Penn State moves forward, this newfound role for Travascio-Green will only help the Lady Lions add scoring depth. Whether she is spreading the floor during a Carter drive, or creating her own shot, there is a new aggressiveness to her game.

"She is shooting the ball with tremendous confidence and knowing that she can put the ball on the floor has given her another dimension that makes her even more difficult to defend," Washington said. 

Penn State will continue to rely on Travascio-Green's scoring and presence moving forward this season. While she changed some aspects of her game, she insists the key for her team is to stay the course.

"I think we have to keep doing what we've been doing. We've been working a lot in practice on our defense. Just being disciplined and being really competitive on defense," Travascio-Green said. "I think for me and everyone else it's just about sticking to what we've been doing because it's paid off."

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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK Pa. - The Lady Lions used a career performance from Jaida Travascio-Green to beat the Drexel Dragons, 84-70, on Sunday.

Travascio-Green finished with a career-high 31 points, making seven 3-point shots. This included the dagger with 45 seconds left when Travascio-Green hit a three-pointer from the corner to give Penn State a 14-point lead.

 "My teammates got me the ball really well, and even when I was missing shots they kept telling me to shoot it" Travascio-Green said.

With four players reaching double-figures for the Lady Lions this was a team win.

"This is an unselfish team, I think at times too unselfish," head coach Coquese Washington said. "As we get more experienced they will put each other in great positions like they did tonight with Jaida."

A 12-0 run to end the first quarter opened the game up for the Lady Lions, who shot 13-for-15 from the free throw line in the opening quarter.

Penn State dominated Drexel all afternoon in the paint, out-rebounding the Dragons 52 to 39. De'Janae Boykin led the team with 19 rebounds to go along with 14 points for her first double-double of the season. 

"She (De'Janae) is just really aggressive on the boards, and she is a really good athlete, really good timing going after the rebounds," Washington said. "I think rebounding and making shots gives you energy and adrenaline to keep doing it and De'Janae did that today, allowing us to get out in transition to find Jaida." 

Jaylen Williams was also a force in the paint for the Lady Lions scoring a career-high 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds. 

"We changed up the offense a little bit and I was posting up a lot more. My teammates were throwing me some great passes and I was just trying my best to make them," Williams said. 

Amari Carter once again acted as the facilitator for the offense, pushing the pace of the game and often finding Travascio-Green open for three. Despite shooting only one-for-six from the field, Carter still found a way to make an impact. 

"Her (Carter's) job isn't just to score, her job is to run the team. She didn't have a great shooting night, and didn't take too many shots," Washington said. "She was still a great facilitator of the game, she still controlled the tempo of the game, found her teammates and just controlled the game. She is a tremendous value to have on the floor" 

The win improves Penn State to 2-0 after wins over Siena and Drexel this weekend, all without star guard Teniya Page.

"There is nothing like game experience and figuring out who you are on game day. You can be one team in practice and another when the lights come on," Washington said. "Starting to figure out who this team is and what we are going to get from folks on game days is huge. I liked the heart we showed today and I think we are going to continue to grow because we are so young."

Penn State goes on the road for two weeks starting with a game at Marshall on November 15th, and will return home after Thanksgiving.

@GOPSUSPORTS

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