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By Brian McLaughlin, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team opened its 2017 season with a dominant performance beating Siena 86-72 on Friday.

 After a close first quarter, the Lady Lions turned it on in the second quarter, outscoring the Saints 26-7. The defensive pressure proved vital as Penn State forced 19 first-half turnovers led by Siyeh Frazier with eight steals.

 "We have worked all week on really flying around on defense, just keeping our hands up, pressuring the ball and in the second quarter we really executed that game well," Jaida Travascio-Green said.

Amari Carter picked up two fouls only five minutes into the game. With another regular starter in Teniya Page out, Siyeh Frazier had to fill in at point-guard for the remainder of the first quarter. 

Carter and Travascio-Green led the team on the offensive end. Carter had a team high 19 points and Travascio-Green followed with 14. Carter also added six rebounds and five assists.

"We have had plenty of time to practice without Teniya," Coach Coquese Washington said. "We kind of have a rotation, Sarah McMurtry, Siyeh (Frazier) can play some back-up point, so we've been practicing without her so we're used to not having her on the court." 

The second quarter proved to be the difference as the Lady Lions shot 58 percent from the field in second quarter. Carter scored nine of her 19 in the frame and Travascio-Green added eight. 

The Lady Lions did a great job of pushing the pace all evening, outscoring the Saints 27-14 on the fast break. This is a big point of emphasis for coach Washington, who really liked how her guards ran the floor. 

"When you have a point guard like Amari, who is really good at pushing the pace, and creating her own shot it helps keep the pace fast. She did a great job of finding Jaida and finding some of our post players," Washington said. "It plays into our talent so I think everything starts with great guard play." 

The Lady Lions led by as much as 35 points, however the Saints cut the lead to as low as 12 in the fourth quarter. Penn State was only able to manage 11 points in the fourth quarter allowing the Saints to claw back in the game. 

With four Lady Lions in foul trouble the bench received a large number of minutes in the fourth quarter.  

Kollyns Scarbaugh had a game high 21 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double for Siena but was unable to lead her team all the way back for what would have been an impressive comeback win.

The Lady Lions return to action Sunday to take on the Drexel Dragons at the Bryce Jordan Center at 1:00 p.m. 


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2017-18 basketball season is upon us, and the Bryce Jordan Center will be alive with excitement Friday as both the men's and women's basketball teams will play their home openers.

 With an exhibition against Cedarville as the only game experience for the Lady Lions so far, head coach Coquese Washington and the rest of the team are finally ready to play games that count.

 "They're really excited to start competing and to start the season," Washington said. "It's been six weeks of practice, and they're finally excited to play against some different competition."

To say that the Lady Lions are a young team would be an understatement, as they are one of only five teams in Division I to not have a senior on the roster. While this could be seen as an obstacle for some teams without a strong leader, the Lady Lions don't view it that way at all.

""We have so many young players and new players out on the floor. Just the practice of being out there and playing was important for us," Washington said. 

For Washington, developing a relationship as a team is the most important goal this weekend. 

"There's a lot of things we're focusing on, and the main thing is building a tighter chemistry and camaraderie. That really only comes with experience, and you can't rush that," Washington said. "We're starting four sophomores and a junior, so the thing we have to do is develop that chemistry the more we play together." 

The Lady Lions will need to rely on some of their young stars for scoring at least early in the season, as the team is without both of its leading scorers from 2016-17. Leading scorer Teniya Page is out with an injury, while Lindsey Spann was lost to transfer.

Page will be back eventually, and when she returns, the Lady Lions will get back 19.9 points per game and a back-to-back preseason All-Big Ten selection. Even though she can't be on the floor, she is still making her voice heard.

"Even though she wasn't out there playing, we would still hear her yelling from the bench," Jaida Travascio-Green said. "From an overall leadership standpoint, it still felt like she was out there with us."

In the meantime, this has opened the door for true sophomore Travascio-Green and redshirt sophomore Amari Carter to take up leadership on the team, and they have been more than ready to assume those roles so far.

Travascio-Green especially has learned to adjust her game and add more moves to her arsenal. She is looking to impose her will as a scorer after being mostly a perimeter player a year ago. 

"This summer, I got stronger and I figured out how to take different shots other than 3's," Travascio-Green said. "I know that my teammates look at me to score the ball. It's nice to know that my teammates trust me to take those critical shots, and I take it upon myself to make them."

Travascio-Green stressed the importance of getting an exhibition game under the belt as well, allowing the Lady Lions to put into action what they worked on in practice, even though they strayed away from execution at times. But that's all part of playing in an exhibition to her, and she looks forward to playing at a high level on a more consistent basis over the two games this weekend.

"We worked on being more disciplined and doing what we know," Travascio-Green said. "A lot of the exhibition was us getting out of what we had practiced. Getting back to that was really what we practiced all week." 

While Carter is also young for playing standards, she understands the importance she has on the team as the starting point guard and the impact she will have especially on the freshmen.

"I feel young too, it's my second season playing," Carter said. "There's a lot of things I still have to learn, I have to learn to direct the floor and get my teammates involved and be more vocal." 

The Lady Lions take on Siena and Drexel this weekend. They have seen both of these teams in the past, most recently taking on Drexel early last season, but these games are a completely new challenge according to Washington.

"Both of those teams are drastically different than they were last year," Washington said. "Siena, most of their star players were seniors, and they've got a number of new players. It's tough when you kind of have new players and a new look."

Tip off against Siena is set for 7 p.m. on Friday while the matchup with Drexel will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday.

By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State Lady Lions led by head coach Coquese Washington met with the media Wednesday afternoon, as they get ready for the 2017-18 campaign.  Coming off a strong 2016-17 that saw the Lady Lions finish 21-11 with a postseason appearance, expectations are high going into the year.  Below are five things to look for this season when Penn State hits the floor. 


1. Building off Momentum

For the first time in three years, the Lady Lions returned to postseason basketball last season. Penn State reached the Women's NIT third round, and gained some valuable experience from being able to compete in postseason play.


"It wet our appetite and it wet the kids' appetite for more," Washington said. "They enjoyed the experience of playing in the postseason, a lot of first time opportunities for many of them."


The Lady Lions will look to expand on the success they had last postseason and use it to understand how difficult it is to compete every night and win in the Big Ten, one of the premier conferences in the country.


2. Leaders Emerge on Young Team

With the departure of four seniors as well as second-leading scorer Lindsey Spann from last season's squad, 2017-18 provides ample opportunities for several players to solidify themselves as leaders on this team. This is a group with a young core, and a few players have an ability to take over as that commanding voice in the locker room.


The team will be without All-Big Ten guard Teniya Page to start the season, which allows several other players to gain valuable experience as leaders in nonconference play.


"We've gotten used to playing without her and it's allowed some other players to really flourish and step up. Jaida Travaiscio-Green has shown her growth on the court," Washington said.  "De'Janae Boykin has really stepped up and shown how she can impact the team. Jaylen Williams has been a pleasant surprise for us and how she is playing with a lot of confidence as a junior."


The players also understand the sense of trust and accountability that has developed over the last couple of months.


"Off the court, our chemistry is really good," Boykin said. "We all get along and we all love each other. On the court, we're a young team but we're pretty smart too."


3. Freshmen Have Chance to Shine Immediately

The unique part about this current team is that there are no seniors on the roster. On one hand, that can be viewed as a positive because the team now will have two full seasons to build cohesion and develop together before the juniors graduate a year and a half from now.


Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the team now is finding that voice who can lead the team, which is still so very young and relatively new to the basketball world.


The freshmen in particular will have opportunities to make names for themselves as the season progresses, further helping the building process of this team.


"One of the things I've really enjoyed about coaching them so far in the limited time they've been with us has been their attention to detail and their willingness to ask questions," Washington said. "They've progressed really well because they're go-getters, they play with a lot of confidence and I think they'll be able to be impactful for us pretty early."


Sam Breen, Kamaria McDaniel and Alisia Smith were all first team all-state players last year and are expected to make an immediate impact on the court.


4. 'Cool' Carter Ready to Step Up at Point Guard

Junior Amari Carter has been a strong voice for this team since she arrived on campus, averaging 7.9 points and 29.3 minutes as the starting two-guard last year. She acknowledges the importance of her play and how it will impact the team, magnified by the fact that she will be playing the point at least for the first few games of the season.


"Personally, I want to be more consistent in my play and lead the team better," Carter said. "We had little ups and downs during a couple of games during the season last year and my play. I want to be a better scorer, make sure I hit the open teammate, knock down the easy shots when I can and make sure when we get down or too high I can help us be more well-rounded."


If there's anyone qualified to fully take over the point guard duties, it's Carter, as she spent much of last year sharing time on and off the ball with Page and Spann. Washington praised her court vision and athleticism on the court, but also her ability to be mellow and even-keeled off of it.


"I think if I had to describe [Carter], it would be 'cool'. She would be very at home in the 1940's Jazz era. She's as cool as a cucumber, just so cool."


5. Games on the Horizon

The Lady Lions begin competition this Sunday, when they take on Cedarville in an exhibition game at the Bryce Jordan Center. More than anything, the team is simply looking forward to playing people that aren't themselves or the scout team.


"I am so excited to play against teams that aren't ourselves, and actually other girls on another team," Travascio-Green said. "Since it's the first game, we don't have everything in that we did at the end of last season, but we're working on just getting the basics down and getting in what we need to be successful."


Freshman Sam Breen looks to get her career off on the right foot, and is embracing the challenge of playing at the college level and in the Big Ten.


"I don't know what to expect, but no game is going to be easy, so we can't take anything lightly coming into this season," Breen said.


After the exhibition, the Lady Lions host Siena on Nov. 10 to kick off the regular season


By Ryan Berti, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Finals may be approaching as the school year comes to a close, but it was a year of growth for the Penn State Lady Lions in the 2016-17 season. The squad experienced its first postseason play in three years with a WNIT berth and put up a school-record-tying 16 wins at home including the postseason, equaling the 2002-03 squad's total.


When looking back, head coach Coquese Washington said it was a good year and her favorite part was how the team continued to improve after each test the players faced.


"Over the course of the season, this team got a lot better," Washington said. "We were a better team in March than we were in November and that's a testament to the work they put in and their desire to be better, their desire to represent Penn State and represent this program at a high level."


At the heart of that constantly better unit was guard Teniya Page. Page, only a sophomore, was the team's undeniable leader on offense. She led the team in scoring with 618 total points on 44.5 percent shooting from the field and 44.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. Her ability to take over games was a huge benefit as her four 30-point outings propelled her to fourth all-time in the Penn State career rankings with five total. Her point total was the ninth-highest ever recorded by a Penn Stater in a single season, while her average of 19.9 points per game allowed her to claim the seventh-highest such average in program history.


These accomplishments did not go unnoticed, as Page was named an All-American honorable mention by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). With the bestowment, Page joined Kelly Mazzante as the only other Lady Lion to accomplish the feat as a sophomore.


Page, along with fellow guard Amari Carter, are expected to set the tone for the returning squad this upcoming season. Not only did the two set the tempo each and every game, but they were No. 1 and 2 on the team in assists and shared an incredible chemistry that Washington said words can't describe.


"They kind of have a secret language, a secret guard language, and they would have full conversations without ever saying a word," Washington said. "I think that chemistry is just going to make them that much more dangerous next year."


The talented guard duo, along with the rest of the young roster, will have to fill the shoes of a veteran trio in Peyton Whitted, Sierra Moore and Kaliyah Mitchell whose careers in Happy Valley have reached a close.


The three contributed in large amounts and leave gaps to fill across the board. Together, they combined for 23.3 point per game, 16.4 rebounds per game and averaged 1.3 blocks per game last season. Still, while it may be tough to see the seniors go, coach Washington says she is more proud of them than anything.


"I don't think you ever feel hurt to see the seniors go, it's more you're like a proud mother," Washington said. "They're 17-18 years old [when they arrive] and then they leave and they're young women. You look at how much they've grown, you look at how prepared they are to go out into the world and make a difference, and so I'm excited for them, I'm excited for their futures."


As summer approaches, Penn State will enjoy the summer while it can, but it won't be long before it's time to get back in the gym and start working towards an even better season in 2017-18. Next year shows a lot of promise with the number of returners and experienced young talent, but only time will tell what the squad will do once it steps back under the lights of the Bryce Jordan Center.


By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coquese Washington stresses the same thing every season, no matter how old her players are, no matter how much experience they have, no matter what: play your best basketball in March.

 As the Lady Lions bowed out of the 2017 WNIT with a third round loss to Virginia Tech on Thursday night, Washington looked back and could only say positive things on how her team closed out the season.

"When you look at our last ten games, we [have played very well]," Washington said. "I thought we continued to grow over the course of the season. As disappointing as this loss is right now, when you look at the totality of our season, this team has accomplished a lot."


After missing the postseason the last two years, the goal for Penn State this year was to get back into playing meaningful March basketball, which is exactly what it did.


"I'm really proud of how this program has grown over the course of one year," Washington said. "Where we were last year as compared to where we are now, there's no way I am going to sit here and bemoan the way this program has grown within the past twelve months."


With a young team this year, any postseason experience was a step in the right direction moving forward. Sophomore guard Teniya Page, who had a stellar sophomore season to follow up a record-breaking freshman campaign, says the team learned a lot about when it comes time to survive and advance.

"I think we learned that it's hard after the regular season. It's hard once it comes to win or go home," Page said. "Every team plays hard because it's potentially their last game. I think that's what I personally learned and I think as a young team that's what we learned." 

In the game, Page became the ninth Lady Lion to reach 600 points in a single season, ending the year with 618. Her 23 points on the night gave her double-digits for the 16th straight game as well and 1,107 points for her career, good for No. 31 on the all-time Lady Lion list.


As the team heads into the offseason, there's a lot they learned this year that they can carry over into the 2017-2018 season. And as long as the Lady Lions continue to grow, the sky is the limit.


"I'm really proud of what this team accomplished this year, especially with our team being so young. I think our future is really bright especially with the players we have returning," Washington said. "Like Teniya [Page] said, the team learned a lot about what postseason play means, what it's going to feel like and how you have to perform during the season, to perform better at this point in the season. I'm really proud of the kids."


The Lady Lions finish the year with a 21-11 record, including a 9-7 record in Big Ten play. Penn State thrived at the Bryce Jordan Center this season, finishing 16-2 at home with the only losses coming in the Big Ten opener versus Indiana and this WNIT loss to the Hokies.

By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions have successfully made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2017 WNIT after wins against Ohio and Fordham last weekend. As they prepare to take on Virginia Tech in the third round on Thursday, the team can still hold organized workouts.

 Advancing in the tournament has allowed Penn State to stay in the gym and continue to practice longer than if they had missed postseason play. The added time that they can spend on getting better is an added and unseen benefit of the postseason that most might not think about. 

"The practice is huge," said head coach Coquese Washington. "Especially when you look at Jaida [Travascio-Green] who got injured late in the season, so she missed a good two and a half weeks of practice with that high ankle sprain. So her being able to have this time to get back into the flow of things and work on some things and learn some things, [it's really beneficial]." 

Travascio-Green has seen the court in 29 games this season, starting in 14 of them. As a true freshman, Travascio-Green has never been in this situation before, but the experience of playing in the postseason has already been different than the regular season for her. 

"I think it's a good experience because of the 'lose and you're done' mentality," Travascio-Green said. "Every game is worth something and during the season, it's so long that you forget what you're working towards in the end, but in this, it's you lose and you're done for the season so the game are more high stakes." 

Washington agrees that playing in these types of games adds to the experience and knowledge that her players have. And with a young team (nine of the 13-woman roster are either sophomores or freshmen), this tournament run will only help them moving forward.

"Just playing in this environment is great," Washington said. "This group, we only played one game in the Big Ten Tournament, so being able to continue to play in the WNIT and play in that kind of pressure where you've got to win to advance, those experiences are invaluable for our younger kids."

Travascio-Green has been joined by her fellow freshman Siyeh Frazier as a contributor on the court over the past few games. Frazier played a career-high 18 minutes in the first round matchup against Ohio and scored a career-high 10 points. 

"Siyeh's been playing really good in practice for a few weeks," Washington said. "Getting the opportunity for some extra minutes in the WNIT has kind of given her more confidence because now she can see that work paying off and it's showing on game day."

Aside from the three seniors on the team, no one on the current team has every played in the postseason at Penn State. So, as redshirt Amari Carter said, these games have allowed the team to "get comfortable with what you're supposed to do in these situations."

"I think the experience from this tournament will help us going into next season and get into the postseason next year," Carter said. 

The Lady Lions will face the Virginia Tech Hokies on Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m.


By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- It's the time of year where the only thing on the mind of college basketball players around the country is 'survive and advance'. On Sunday the Lady Lions did just that when they beat the Fordham Rams 70-51 in the second round of the WNIT.

After another slow start kept them scoreless for the first three minutes, a situation almost identical to their first round game against Ohio, the Lady Lions closed out the first quarter on a 17-2 run, and never looked back.

"You can't always control whether or not the ball goes in the basket and I thought early on we got some good shots, they just didn't fall," said head coach Coquese Washington. "So our defense was good the first quarter and once we got a few baskets to fall, our defense stayed pretty high and allowed us to get out to a lead that first quarter."

The change in momentum came thanks to a lockdown defensive scheme that held the Rams to just four points in the first frame.

"I think it started with the defense, we got a couple of steals and then we were able to get in transition so I could kind of feel that we were starting to get momentum that way," said sophomore Teniya Page. "We were doing a good job of boxing out and running, so I think it was the defense."

Back-to-back steals from Amari Carter and Sierra Moore put the Lady Lions on the board to jumpstart a 12-0 run to put the Lady Lions up big. Carter ended the contest with a game-high four steals to go along with 15 points.

"I just take what the defense gives me," Carter said. "How they're playing us, whether they're going to double the screens or trap the screens or whatever they want to do. It just depends on how they play us [and that's how I play my game]."

Carter is playing in her first season for Penn State after redshirting last year because of a torn ACL she suffered in the first game.

Washington says that having Carter on the floor now is the difference maker from where the team was a year ago, when the Lady Lions missed the postseason after finishing below .500.

"There's no question one of the differences in the success of this team, and where we are at this point this year versus last year, is Amari Carter's presence," Washington said. "She's a dynamic player and having her on the court just makes us a better team. She gives us more options, she's so fantastic with handling the ball, finding teammates, and giving people easy plays."

Penn State will hope that Carter can continue her dominant play as the team will be without redshirt junior Lindsey Spann as it continues its postseason run, who will be out for the remainder of the year with an injury. Spann was averaging 10.5 points per game in 22.9 minutes per game.

The Lady Lions advance to the Sweet 16 of the WNIT for the first time since the team won it all in the inaugural WNIT in 1998 and will host Virginia Tech at the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday. Tip is set for 7 p.m.


By Ryan Berti, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the first postseason game for Penn State in three years, the Lady Lions stayed alive by beating the visiting Ohio Bobcats, 74-65, in the first round of the WNIT.

The Lady Lions were a little bit slow out of the gate, trailing 9-0 through just under three whole minutes of action. Head coach Coquese Washington realized the need for things to change and called a vital timeout.


"Really I said 'okay, now we've gotta get back,'" Washington said to her squad in the huddle. "'We've had a few minutes to get our legs up under us, to get a feel for how they're playing, now we've gotta adjust and we've gotta start executing and doing the things that we've practiced,' and we started to do that."


Penn State responded by knocking down the 10 of the next 12 buckets, including two consecutive three-pointers by Teniya Page and Jaida Travascio-Green to start the second quarter. With the surge, the Blue and White took the 22-15 lead, a lead they would not lost for the rest of the game.


A big part of the Lady Lions success was generated by a defensive switch from man to zone. From that point on, Penn State was able to close the inside of the perimeter and force the Bobcats to have to shoot from outside. On a normal night, this would play right into the hands of Ohio, who nationwide have hit the ninth most three-pointers (282) on the sixth most attempts (939). But on this night, the Lady Lions were able to contain them to just 3-21 shooting from behind the arc in the first three quarters of play.


"I thought maybe one or two of them I didn't love, but I mean we're one of the top ten three-point shooting teams in the country, so you've got to shoot them to make them. And we shot em, and unfortunately we didn't make them tonight," Bobcats head coach Bob Boldon said.


Penn State capitalized on their opponent's woes and took off, with the bench play providing the fuel. Led by Sierra Moore and Siyeh Frazier, the Lady Lions continued to coast throughout the majority of the game. By the game's end, the Blue and White would outscore the visitors 28-6 with their reserves.


The senior, Moore, finished just short of her 21-point career high with a season-high 20 points. She also collected six rebounds and two assists, making her first postseason game one to remember.


"I'm not surprised for Sierra," Washington said. "She plays hard every night, she's explosive, she's energetic and I knew she would come out and work really hard tonight to have a big game."


The freshman, Frazier, also made splashes as she chalked up her first double-digit outing as a collegiate student-athlete. Her 10 points made her one of four Lady Lions to do so on the night, and her performance sparked a wave of energy over the whole team as she wore her passion on her sleeve.


"She's been practicing really well," Washington said about Frazier. "She's got fresh energetic legs, gets out in transition for us. She got a couple of offensive rebounds that were big for us. It's good to see her progressing and being able to play with a lot of confidence at this point of the season."


Among other contributors, Amari Carter and Teniya Page joined Moore and Frazier in scoring double digits, while Page also recorded a career-high nine rebounds. The only teammate to top her in that department was Kaliyah Mitchell, who grabbed 10 boards and added eight points.


With everyone having a hand in the victory, the performance showed how versatile Penn State can be. In order to make a deep run in the tournament, it will take an all-around effort like that from everyone on the roster.


"We're a really unselfish team so whatever is working that night is what we go to, so if we have a different kind of matchup, that's what we go to," Moore said. "We have a lot of strengths on the team, and everyone can do a specific thing, so whenever it's their time to shine and do their role that they're good at, then that's what we're gonna do."


With the win, Penn State moves onto the second round where it will face the Fordham Rams. The game will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 19 at the Bryce Jordan Center. 


By Ryan Berti, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The year has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but the Lady Lions aim to end the season on a high-note with a bid to the Women's National Invitational Tournament.


Head Coquese Washington and her squad will be prepared to take on Ohio at the Bryce Jordan Center this Friday at 7 p.m. This marks the first time in postseason play for the Penn State since 2014, where the Lady Lions made it to the third round of the NCAA tournament.


This year's WNIT berth is the first for Penn State since 2010 and the third in program history. The Blue and White won the inaugural event back in 1998 and now boast a 4-1 record in tournament play. The Lady Lions will be just one of six teams competing that have won it all before, joining Missouri State (2005), Wyoming (2007), Oklahoma State (2012), Drexel (2013) and South Dakota (2016).


In the first round, Penn State has the task of trying to tame the visiting Ohio Bobcats. As one of five teams representing the Mid-American Conference, the Bobcats put up a 22-9 record while going 12-6 in conference play. During the regular season, Ohio split its games against Big Ten competition, defeating Illinois but falling to Michigan.

A key matchup in this contest to watch for is the high scoring guard play between the Penn State's Teniya Page and Ohio's Quiera Lampkins. Just 0.2 points per game separates these two in the national rankings, where Page sits 20th in the country with the exact same number of points per game, meanwhile Lampkins trails slightly behind at No. 24 in the nation with 19.8.


The Lady Lions will have to be careful with how they handle the ball against the Bobcats, as they hold the NCAA's 18th best turnover margin at a plus-5.9 clip. Penn State will hope the home atmosphere can counter that production, posting a 14-1 record at home. Ohio has found most of its woes when away from Athens, Ohio, going a combined 8-7 when away or at a neutral location.


If Penn State is able to pick up the win Friday night and advance, a matchup awaits with the winner of Georgetown (17-12, 9-9 Big East) or Fordham (21-11, 11-5 Atlantic 10).


Each team presents its own challenge and could prove to be an interesting adversary in the second round.


On one hand, Fordham has a very stingy defense. The Rams are the 16th best in the country at defending teams beyond the arc, limiting opponents to just 27.6 percent from deep. They also make sure teams have to earn their points, only allowing teams to score an average of 56.0 points per game, good for the No. 20 spot nationally. That should be a solid test for the Lady Lions offense that owns a top-50 offense with 73.3 points per game.


On the other hand, the Hoyas of Georgetown beat their opponents by creating opportunities while limiting the same for their foes. The Big East team ranks in the top 50 in the country in offensive rebounds per game (15 orpg, 29th), steals per game (9.7 spg, 47th) and turnover margin (+4.24, 34th). Don't expect them to cough the ball up either, as Georgetown commits the ninth fewest turnovers nationwide with just 370 over the year.


Penn State has played each in the last two seasons. The Hoyas bested the Lady Lions this year, 68-54, in the San Juan Shootout, while the Blue and White took out Fordham, 79-75, last season at home.


In the Lady Lions' only other WNIT appearances, they were a first round out (2010) and won it all (1998). It's a small sample size, but if the trend continues, this weekend's matchups could determine Penn State's postseason destiny. 

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By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions are headed back to the postseason for the first time since the 2013-2014 season. That year, veteran players Peyton Whitted and Kaliyah Mitchell were freshmen and saw time on the court in the NCAA tournament on a team that superstar Maggie Lucas led to the Sweet 16. 

Now leaders themselves, Whitted, Mitchell, Lindsey Spann, who did not play and redshirted in 2013-14, and Sierra Moore, who was in Happy Valley but sat out that season due to NCAA transfer rules, are ready to put what they learned in that postseason run to try and make another. 

"My freshman year showed me that when you work hard it pays off and you're able to keep playing," Mitchell said. "Looking at the [2013-14] seniors, it was what they wanted to do, just keep playing as long as possible. It was something that they worked towards, so I think now that I am in their shoes, it's helped me this season and let me know what I want to work towards."

Penn State will face Ohio in the first round of the WNIT on Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center. After missing out on postseason play the last two years, Whitted is excited to extend this season. 

"We're just happy to play some more. It's going to be really competitive. Ohio's a really competitive team so we're just looking to survive and advance," Whitted said. "It means a lot that we get to play past the Big Ten Tournament. That's exciting and I'm excited to keep playing. I want to play as long as I can while I'm here."

The four veterans have experienced the highs and lows of playing college basketball over the past four years. They went from contenders in the Sweet 16 to a 6-24 record the next season, before building the program back up to a team that is on the verge of the program's 27th 20-win season. Despite the adversity they've faced, there's nothing they would have wanted to change. 

"I learned a lot being on a great team and then being on a struggling team and now to bring us back to the success that we had my freshman year," Whitted said after Senior Day this year. "It's just a great life lesson because not everything is going to go perfect in your life so it's just about how you respond. I'm very appreciative for everything that's happened and I don't regret any of it because I've learned a lot from it."

Added Mitchell: "Honestly, being in that moment is really tough because a lot of things were going on. The season wasn't going right, my game wasn't at its best, so going through that also helps you at times like this to remember what you went through and how you don't want to go through that again." 

Head coach Coquese Washington is confident in her veteran players' ability to continue to lead the team. Both Whitted and Mitchell are team captains this year, and Washington agrees that their prior postseason experience will only help them in this year's tournament. 

"I think it'll be a really good experience for them, something for them to draw on," Washington said. "Now it's their turn to lead the charge and they've done a fantastic job this season, as I've said all along, of providing good leadership for us and helping us lead this young team back to postseason play so I know they'll be up for the challenge." 

Year in and year out, Washington preaches that she wants her players to play their best basketball in March. And with her team finally doing just that, she says there's a good vibe around the BJC. 

"You work hard during the regular season to be in a position to continue the season and continue to practice, continue to work on growing and building on a foundation, and it's a lot of fun, it's a lot of excitement and there's a good buzz in the gym," Washington said.

The first round of the WNIT tips at 7 p.m. on Friday in the BJC.   


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