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By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since arriving on Penn State's campus four years ago, senior Peyton Whitted has been on a team that has seen it's share of ups and downs. From Big Ten champions her freshman year to a rebuilding process, Whitted has seen it all.

Now with just two games left in her regular season career with the Lady Lions, the Suwanee, Georgia native is trying to keep her emotions in check heading into this final stretch.

"My emotions are kind of all over the place but I'm just excited about these next two games because we're on a four-game win streak and we've been playing really good basketball," Whitted said. "So my focus right now is just finishing strong and the team finishing strong. Focusing on those things helps to take away from those other emotions so I try just to focus on what this team is doing and how good we're playing."

The Lady Lions will finish this season with a winning record after two straight years finishing below .500. Prior to that, the Lady Lions won three straight conference titles, the final one being in Whitted's freshman year.

"I definitely learned a lot being on a great team and then being on a team that struggled and then also bringing us back to the success that we had my freshman year," Whitted said. "I've learned a lot about adversity and success, and 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."

And learn from it she has. In her four years, Whitted has put in a lot of hard work and dedicated herself to the program, and this season she was rewarded for that when coach Coquese Washington called her name as one of three team captains.

"Peyton is a kid that lives in the gym," Washington said. "She's usually the first one in the gym before practice and she's always staying after, working on her free throws, working on her shot, working on different things and that work ethic certainly stands out with her teammates."

Teammate and fellow senior Sierra Moore echoed that sentiment, adding that Whitted is able to communicate with her teammates and help the team off the bench.

"This year she is a team captain and she worked really hard to get to that point. You could tell that she's really matured and she knows how to talk to people," Moore said. "And just her aggressiveness off the bench, she's done a tremendous job."

Added sophomore guard Teniya Page: "She gives us experience off the bench. She's been in different types of positions throughout her career here, so on the court she gives us composure. She doesn't panic and she knows what to expect because she brings that experience off the bench."

On top of seeing changes within the team, Whitted has seen a lot of change in her game as well. But Washington said that the biggest change she's noticed is in how Whitted carries herself on and off the court.

"She's playing with probably the most confidence that I've seen this latter half of conference play," Washington said. "When she's out on the court, she's playing with a lot of confidence, so that growth in her confidence in herself and the confidence in her teammates has been really big."

With graduation nearing, Whitted still has some bucket list items to complete before she heads home from Happy Valley. Her big items are climbing Mount Nittany once the season is over and trying to get to a sporting event for all 31 Penn State programs. And, with the team being on a bye week this weekend, Whitted is excited to finally experience THON for the first time.

"We're performing at the pep rally and this is our first year doing it since I've been here, so I'm definitely excited for that," Whitted said. "And I'm just looking forward to participating in Athlete Hour and going and spending a lot of time there this weekend."

Once the season is over, Whitted won't be ready to hang up her basketball shoes just yet. She hopes to continue playing professionally, no matter where in the world that may be. When her basketball career does conclude, she'll be ready to put her broadcast journalism degree to good use.

" still want to play, so I'm looking to play overseas or honestly anywhere where I can play, so that's my first thing," Whitted said. "After that, I definitely want to pursue something with my major, so producing sports stories or doing sports commentary or something in that field."

Whitted and the rest of the Lady Lions will have some time at home before they travel to East Lansing next week to take on Michigan State on Wednesday. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

Black History Month Features: Lorraine (Hutchings) Oliver

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - To honor and celebrate Black History Month, Penn State Athletics is proud to share the stories of its African American student-athletes and coaches who have shaped Nittany Lion history through their success and challenges, even long after Penn State.

Penn State's first female African American student-athlete to play on the field hockey team (1969), as well the Lady Lion basketball team (1970) and the women's lacrosse team (1970), Lorraine (Hutchings) Oliver made Nittany Lion athletics history in the pre-Title IX era. 

With Penn State introducing women's intercollegiate athletic programs in 1964-65, the Nittany Lion women's programs were not referred to as "Varsity" programs until 1967, just a year before Barbara June Rose became Penn State's first African American student-athlete (women's gymnastics) in 1968. Just a year later though, it was Oliver, who continued to pave the way, as Penn State's first African American multi-sport athlete. 

Born in Huntington, Pennsylvania, a small town 30 miles from Happy Valley, Oliver grew up in a big family, all of whom were active in athletics. Long before cell phones, computers and video games, for Oliver, sports were an outlet.

"In high school, I would use athletics as my entertainment," Oliver said. "My family is an athletic family so we always played sports. I started playing field hockey and I loved it; it was just a part of our lives."

A standout athlete at Huntington High School, Oliver lettered in three sports across four consecutive seasons as a starter on the field hockey, basketball and track and field teams, also earning a letter in her one season as a catcher on the softball team.

In high school, Oliver also participated in the Upward Bound program at Penn State, a nationwide initiative targeted at preparing students from low income families for success in college. Growing up nearby, though, it wasn't experience as much as opportunity that drew Oliver to Penn State.  

"We knew about Penn State and cheered for Penn State, but were from a small town and didn't get across the mountain that much," Oliver said.

Enrolled at Penn State, Oliver also continue to pursue her passion for competition, trying out for both the field hockey and basketball teams. Oliver also found success trying out for a new Nittany Lion team as well, which turned out be he her favorite.

"They did not have lacrosse at my high school but, when I got to college, I took a lacrosse course and at that point I fell in love with lacrosse and joined the team," Oliver said.

Outside of athletics, Oliver enrolled at Penn State during a tumultuous time in United States history. Her experience as a student-athlete, though, didn't involve having to confront the national challenges of racism, which had been met head on by the Civil Rights Movement and striving for racial equality in the 1950's and '60's.

For Oliver, she can recall enrolling at a time when the student body was predominantly white, feeling that maybe three to five percent of the student body was represented by African American students.

"It wasn't ever overt racism," Oliver said. "Kind of subtle in the background, but it wasn't at the forefront. 

Along with her love for athletics, though, Oliver was committed to her drive to succeed, a motivation instilled by her mother.

"I grew up in a white town so it wasn't hard to adjust, but for some it was hard," Oliver said.

Fueled by an unwavering drive to succeed, it's that exactly quality that she continues to exude to this day, long after graduating from Penn State. 

"That's something that I always have people say to me, 'you make it happen', and that's because I do whatever I need to do to make it happen," Oliver said. "I'm one of those people."

Oliver earned a bachelor's degree in health and physical education in 1973 before continuing on to earn her master's degree in health education.

It's the life lessons from athletics, though, that have helped her shape a model for family.

"Pick a goal and work for it, it's my model that I have given to my family and to my son (George), who is attending Penn State now," Oliver said. "My model that I developed for my family is, 'whatever it takes, pick a goal and work for it.'" 

Upon graduation, Oliver became Penn State McKeesport's first women's basketball coach, where she also coached volleyball and taught as an instructor. It was in teaching, that Oliver was able to continue instilling in her students and student-athletes, the same drive to succeed she received. 

"I tried to instill in my teams to do the best they can do, because it prepares you for life," Oliver said.

Oliver later married George Bennett Oliver, Jr., whom she met while attending Penn State, and the two moved to the Atlanta area.

"Star-crossed lovers," as Oliver recalls with a laugh, she and George met during their undergraduate years at Penn State, marrying in the Eisenhower Chapel on the University Park campus 42 years ago. 

While in Georgia, Oliver continued to teach and coach, pursuing her career working in the counseling field, particularly starting off teaching DUI rehabilitation classes.

"I really wanted to help people and change their lives," Oliver said. "People would come back to me maybe a year or two years later before I started my own business and say, 'you really helped me'. A number of people starting doing that and I thought maybe this is my calling." 

With a budget of just $3,000, an entrepreneurial spirit and the loving support from her husband, Oliver completed the necessary 32 credits to earn her certificate in alcohol and addiction counseling and opened her own counseling business. 

"My husband and I got in there on our knees and scrubbed the floors to do what we needed to do rather than hiring people," Oliver said. "It was a matter of doing what you need to do. I was working full time as a teacher and working full time at my business the other half of the day." 

Now 13 years later, Oliver has transformed her passion for helping others into a successful business. Although now retired from teaching, she still continues to give back to those in need through the assistance of various counseling program and classes.  

In 2016, Oliver was inducted into the Huntington County Sports Hall of Fame, a symbol of how her drive to succeed reflects her role in shaping Nittany Lion athletics history.

Reflecting on her advice to inspire others, though, it's never take no for an answer.

"Don't let anyone or anything stop you," Oliver said. "I'm a believer in counseling, I do that. You can be whatever you want to be."    


By Jack Milewski, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior day is always a bittersweet occasion. It marks the culmination of great careers and is a great celebration of what the respective seniors have meant to their team. On Saturday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center, senior day was much more sweet than bitter for three Lady Lions.

Sierra Moore, Peyton Whitted, and Kaliyah Mitchell all notched double-figure stat lines as the seniors provided the spark for Penn State in its 79-73 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers. The seniors were at it early on, as they scored 14 of the team's first 16 points. For the night, Moore had 13, Whitted 11, and Mitchell chipped in with 10 of her own. 

"I think they really set the tone for us," head coach Coquese Washington said. "They all play a big role on this team and today they really helped us get off to a fast start today."

Each senior touched on their time at Penn State after the game and the one word that continued to pop up was "family." The way the Lady Lions are playing, winners of three in a row, the team's seniors may have more than a few games left with their Penn State family. 

"It's my teammates, the coaches, the fans, it's the type of environment that Penn State is," Mitchell said. "Throughout the four years I was able to build relationships with my teammates and people outside of the gym as well." 

Not only did senior day offer a celebration for the seniors and a solid performance from all three of them, but it also continued to showcase a glimpse of the future in the form of the ever dominant Teniya Page. Page finished with a game high 24 points, continuing a run over the last seven games where she is averaging over 20 points a game. Despite a slow start to the game, Page was able to have a dynamic game, in large part thanks to 11 free throws. 

"Teniya is always very aggressive and she was again today," Washington said. "I thought she started doing that in the second half and that's why she had so much success. When she is that aggressive, she is just that good." 

Page has been one of the best players in not just the Big Ten, but also the nation, since she recovered from a hand injury a little over a month ago. For Penn State, as Page goes, so does the team, and since she has been fully healthy, the team has been phenomenal.

"She is a phenomenal player and was very aggressive today," Boilermaker head coach Sharon Versyp said. "She does a great job drawing contact and she did that again today."

Page and the seniors have just three games remaining in the regular season until tournament time. The Lady Lions have been steadily climbing the standings of the Big Ten and they are currently sitting at 17-8 overall on the season. If Penn State keeps playing well, the Lady Lions may be poised to make the NCAA tournament. 

"We just take it one game at a time and one opponent at a time," Whitted said. "That has been our mentality all season long."

Penn State is back on the court next against the Illinois Fighting Illini this upcoming Tuesday. Last time the two teams faced, the Lady Lions took care of business 82-66. The game is set for an 8 p.m. ET tip on the road. 


By Ryan Berti, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When teams travel to University Park to take on the Lady Lions, they can usually expect to have to deal with a few things. Among the others, opponents can usually count on the Blue and White to give them trouble by pushing the pace offensively and playing aggressive defense, but if there's one player on the scouting report they can always expect to give them a tough time, its fifth-year senior Sierra Moore.


"She goes hard," assistant coach Jocelyn Wyatt said about the guard's physicality. "When she sees an open lane, she's going hard at the rim. When she sees a [missed shot], she goes after it. She brings a lot of toughness for us on the floor, and we feed off of that. She does a great job of leading us in that way."


Throughout her years with Penn State, Moore and her take-no-prisoners mentality has been one of the most influential for her squad as her teammates have looked to her to set the tone and lead by example. Her appetite for success has been contagious, and it all ties back to her overarching love for the game.


"I'm really passionate about the game. I've been playing since I was four, so basketball is kind of my life and it's really what keeps me going every day," Moore said.


One could say basketball is the most fundamental thing that Moore has ever known. The guard was born into a basketball family that saw her father Edwin play college ball in Millersville and her mother also play the sport in high school. Throughout her childhood, Moore says her family's rich history of athleticism helped shape her both on and off the court.

"My competitive nature comes from my family," Moore said. "I could always play 1-on-1 with my dad or my mom and even my brother who is only a little bit younger than me."

That competitiveness that runs through her blood is more or less her signature trait and is something the entire team has taken notice of in her time in Happy Valley. Her drive is something that the rest of the group looks to as a source of leadership and inspiration to push harder.


"Sierra brings a lot," fellow senior and team captain Peyton Whitted said. "First a foremost, she brings energy and passion and she loves the game. She's very confident in herself, she's confident in her teammates and she just makes us better in practice because of how much she loves the game. She just wants everybody to do well and be successful."


Moore's passionate play has turned into results on the floor this season and has helped carry this team during times when it has mattered most.


The fifth-year senior stands in the top three of the team in field goal percentage (.500 - 2nd on the team, 12th in Big Ten), scoring (9.4 ppg - 3rd on the team), and rebounds (115 total - 3rd on the team), showing her ability to contribute in multiple areas on the floor.


All of this comes off a return from a season lost due to injury, as a preseason knee injury ended her season last year before it could even begin. While still unable to play, the team still felt Moore's presence.


"Last year, one of the things that she did a really good job with for us was trying to keep the competitive nature and the competitive level of the team high," head coach Coquese Washington said. "She loves to win. She's one of the highest competitors on the team, and that's something she tried to infuse into the team last year even though she wasn't playing."


That kind of impact is exactly why she was so heavily recruited out of high school, on top of being a Gatorade Player of the Year in Pennsylvania and a McDonald's High School All-American. Despite coach Washington's hard push to get her to come to Penn State straight out of high school, Moore ultimately chose to enroll at Duke as a freshman.


Coach Washington said while she was disappointed Moore would not be joining her squad, she still offered out a hand in case she ever had a change of heart.


"A year later, [Moore] called me, and I was like come on home kid," Washington said. "Come on home."


Four years later and now Moore is just four games away from the end of her regular season collegiate career. While that reality still lies ahead, she says what hits her the most is the fact the following games will be some of the last games she gets to play with her teammates that she has grown with over the years.


As for the future, Moore's passion to succeed remains unwavering as her eyes are still set on what she can do to help the team get as far as they can, with the ultimate goal being the big dance.


"Just helping my team get to the [NCAA] tournament. That's what we want to do. We want to get to the tournament and we wanna dance, so my role is just working as hard as I can every day in practice to get there," Moore said.


By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -The Lady Lions defeated Minnesota 77-66 Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center thanks to dominant performances from Sierra Moore, Teniya Page, and Lindsey Spann.

The trio combined for 50 of Penn State's points, but didn't really find their groove until the second half after some adjustments at halftime. After going into the locker room tied at 39, the Lady Lions came back out and held Minnesota to four scoreless minutes in the third to take an eight point lead.

"We had to reevaluate at halftime and really get our team together and come out there and do what the game plan was," Moore said. "I think we did a really good job changing it around in the second half."

Moore had a slow first half, with only two points and two rebounds. But after the break, she exploded for another 10 points and four rebounds. And while her numbers might not have been huge, it was her effort on the floor that coach Coquese Washington saw.

"Sierra brings an element of toughness, intensity, tenacity to the team. It's one of the reasons why we put her in the starting lineup because she just gives us that aggressiveness," Washington said. "I feel like when we are kind of in a lull, she's the one who will make a play whether it's a big rebound or getting out in transition or getting to the free throw line to kind of ignite the team. She's our lightening rod, she's our energy and she has a knack for making big plays when we need them."

In the fourth quarter in particular, Moore was flying up and down the court making aggressive plays. She was able to get open under the basket, and even when she was covered in the paint, Moore was able to get shots up around the coverage.

Moore finished the game with six rebounds in total out of Penn State's 47. Rebounding was a big focus in practice leading up to the game, both offensively and defensively.

"It was a huge focus coming into the game and we knew that they do a great job crashing the boards," Washington said. I thought the second half was much better than the first half. The first half, they kind of had their way with us on the boards, but we talked about it a lot at halftime and I thought our post players in particular did a really good job of trying to battle and box out and we ended up getting some big rebounds in the third and fourth quarter that allowed us to pull away a little bit."

The two teams played a physical game, combining for 31 personal fouls and numerous plays that ended with players diving on the ground. But while it the game was more physical than others have been, Spann wasn't surprised by the aggression shown by both teams.

"We knew they were going to come in and play tough and play hard, nobody's going to sit down in the Big Ten," Spann said. "Everybody's going to come to play and try and give you their best, they come and play tough. It's a physical game and the Big Ten is a physical conference, so it's just something we prepare for and we fought against it."

The Lady Lions are back at the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday when they take on Purdue. The team will be honoring its three seniors, Sierra Moore, Peyton Whitted and Kaliyah Mitchell, in a ceremony before the game. Tip is set for 2 p.m.

Lady Lions Prepare for Back-to-Back Road Games

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Lady Lions enter the second half of their Big Ten conference slate, they'll be doing so by hitting the road...a lot.

Coquese Washington and Co. are on the road for four of the next seven games, and in the next five days alone, the team has big trips to Ohio State and Northwestern. While the Lady Lions are 11-1 at home, they're just 2-5 away from the Bryce Jordan Center in true road games, and 1-1 in neutral site contests.

With a level of comfort playing at the BJC, Washington wants her players to take that same mindset with them when they're on the road and she hopes they can bring their typical home performance on the road with them.

"I have told our players this, we have to have our game travel with us, meaning we have to take the good things that we do at the [Bryce Jordan Center] and bring those on the road," Washington said. "It's about overcoming adversity, the crowd and focusing on the things we can control, and showing some resilience will help us [as well]."

The Lady Lions have gotten better on the road as the season has worn on, losing their last two road matchups by just six points each. Junior Lindsey Spann has seen the team improve in multiple aspects on the road since their first road loss to Drexel to start the season.

"We've definitely gotten better, mentally, making the right reads, making the right decisions, understanding we may not get the same calls that we might get at home," Spann said. "We just have to play our game and stay locked in. If we do what we're supposed to do and follow the game plan then we'll be successful."

Executing their game plan will be a key factor in staying on track on the road over the next week. After a dominant win over Illinois on Sunday (Jan.29), Spann is looking to carry that momentum with them into the road stretch.

"[We] definitely just need to stay disciplined, play our basketball, Lady Lion basketball and not let being on the road get to us," Spann said. "We definitely understand that winning road games is important to finish out the Big Ten chunk of the season as strong as possible. Teams play better on their home courts so that means we have to pay attention to the details."

The Lady Lions aren't the only team in the Big Ten to have a favorable home record this season. Ohio State and Northwestern have just three home losses between the two of them. Washington isn't oblivious to the fact that travelling in the Big Ten is an added challenge.

"Road wins are tough to come by in the Big Ten because every team in the conference plays well at home," Washington said. "There are a lot of tough venues in this conference, so for us it's about playing hard executing our game plan and making every possession count. We have to be focused and locked in and keep that mindset for 40 minutes."

The Lady Lions will take on the No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes Wednesday night in Columbus. Tip is set for 7 p.m. and all the action can be heard live on the Penn State Radio Network.


By Ryan Berti, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While the Illinois Fighting Illini may have come into Happy Valley looking to play like their namesake with physical, assertive play, it ended up being their downfall as Penn State was able to combat it with an aggressive mentality all the while remaining under control. With the level-headed attack, the Lady Lions were able to open up their game and cruise to an 82-66 victory.


Penn State's gameplan was executed to perfection in many ways early on, and it all started with the full-court press on defense. In the first half, the Blue and White were able to elicit 12 turnovers and three steals, turning them into 18 total points going the other way.


"We wanted to be aggressive with defense. We wanted to have active hands to try and speed the game up so that we could force some turnovers," coach Coquese Washington said. "I thought that our depth was a huge factor in our ability to mix up the defenses and stay aggressive on the boards."


The ability to turn defense into offense propelled the Lady Lions into leads as big as 11 entering the second quarter. Illinois continued to push forward with their physical play, but they struggled to avoid fouling in the process.


Between the starters alone, Illinois racked up 14 fouls. This was especially troubling for the visitors since the Fighting Illini came into the matchup tied for 12th in the nation from the charity stripe, converting 77.7 percent of the time. They would continue to have success there by being perfect in 13 attempts from the line, but the sheer volume of fouls acquired allowed Penn State to thrive in the bonus, earning 10 more points in 18 more attempts.


Coach Washington said it was part of the team's mentality to dominate at the stripe after being beaten there handily before.


"We certainly talked about defending better after coming off the Indiana game where they shot 30 free throws and we shot 10. I thought that we put a lot of emphasis on it and we did a better job with it today," Washington said.


With several Illinois players in foul trouble and two leaving the game early because of fouling out, the veterans of Penn State's offense were able to take advantage by friving to the hoop. Two players that stood out were seniors Kaliyah Mitchell and Sierra Moore, producing similar results by each having big games.


Mitchell put up 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting along with six rebounds in just 15 minutes on the court. The forward led a bench unit on the night that outscored the Illini 35 to 11. She helped elevate the team and really changed the game when out on the floor.


"I thought that [Kaliyah] was a difference maker in the game for us," Washington said. "She was impactful on both ends of the floor. She came in the game and gave us a little bit more speed and a little bit more ability to guard."


Moore also made an impact in her ability to electrify the team with her feisty play. She would continue to drive inside and draw foul after foul, converting on seven of her nine free throw attempts. Her final sheet would read 19 points (a team best and season high for her), going 6-of-9 from the field and a plus-18 plus/minus while in the game.


"Sierra Moore is our 'Energizer Bunny,'" Washington said. "She doesn't know how to go half speed or turn it off and that is a great thing for us. When she is going out and getting rebounds or making baskets and being aggressive, it opens up a lot of things for everyone else."


The team captain was humble with her big game, saying it was just her playing her part.


"[Being aggressive] and getting to the basket is one of my roles. When we all take care of our roles everything flows really well for [our team]. I just tried to do that to help my team win," Moore said.


With the big game and the big win, the Lady Lions now look to keep the momentum going as they hit the road for a pair of Big Ten games. Even though uncertain territory lies ahead, the squad plans to take their mindset from this game and continue to concentrate on staying in control.


"The answer is execution," Washington said. "You cannot focus on two road games or seven more regular season games, you have to focus on one game plan and executing one game plan at a time which is exactly what we are going to do."

By ANNA PITINGOLO, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a tough loss in Bloomington, Indiana at the beginning of the week, Penn State returned to the practice gym in the Bryce Jordan Center to regroup and refocus before the second half of Big Ten play begins.

The Lady Lions have a six-day break before they get ready to host Illinois on Sunday, and standing at the midpoint of conference play, the bye is coming at just the right time.

 "It's coming at a perfect time. Eight games in and we get the bye, get a break; it's a great time for our kids to rest up a little bit," said head coach Coquese Washington. "We don't have any serious injuries but [it's] certainly a time to rest some legs, rest some minds, and kind of get refreshed and focus on the second half of Big Ten conference play." 

The second half of conference play includes matchups with three of the top ten teams in the Big Ten, including Ohio State, who currently sits at No. 15 in the nation. The slate also includes four road games, with one week sending the team to Columbus and Evanston, Ill. for back-to-back games against Ohio State and Northwestern, respectively.

As those games approach, senior Kaliyah Mitchell says the players are focusing on adjusting certain aspects of their games that were weak to start the season. 

"This break allows us to rest from all the games we've played but at the same time catch up on some work in class," Mitchell said. "So we take this time to also rebuild and work on things from the first half of conference play that we probably need to clean up a little bit so I think the bye week is really helpful for us." 

Washington doesn't plan to change the team's practice schedule during the bye week too much, besides giving her players as much rest as possible.

"I wouldn't say there's big changes but certainly we take an extra day off than we probably normally would since we don't play right away," Washington said. "So we'll take an extra day off and allow them a chance to refresh and recuperate both mentally and physically."

As far as preference to when during the season the bye week is, Washington isn't too picky. She'd just prefer for it to come at a time when the team will most appreciate it and need it so that it can be advantageous to their season. With this year's break coming exactly in the middle of Big Ten play, there's nothing more Washington and her staff could ask for. 

"It doesn't matter as long as it's not too early and not too late so you want it to be somewhere in there where the break is going to be beneficial," Washington said. "Sometimes when it's too early it's not really beneficial because you're just coming back from Christmas break and you don't really need a bye. If it's too late, you may be a little more exhausted because you've played too many games in a row.

The bye is the first of the year for the Lady Lions, with their second break coming in mid-February, just before the end of the season.

The Lady Lions are home against Illinois on Sunday, January 29 with tip set for 2 p.m.


By ANNA PITINGOLO, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 86-69, Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center behind 18 points from sophomore guard Teniya Page. 

But it was another guard who took home the night's biggest honor: junior Lindsey Spann became the 37th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. 

Spann reached the milestone thanks to a jumper in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't something she had her sights set on coming into the game.

"I didn't really know where I was," said the Laurel, Maryland native. "And then we came in at halftime and they were like 'did you know you're three points away?' and I was like 'no, but why did you guys tell me that because now I'm like thinking about it.'" 

Spann added: "It's a great feeling but I didn't do it by myself."

Head coach Coquese Washington agrees with Spann's selfless mindset, and has seen all the work that Spann has put in behind the scenes in order to play at the level that she does. 

"I think, like she said, her teammates have helped a lot," Washington said. "And Lindsey's a kid who works really hard and she puts a lot of time in the gym to be able to produce offensively for us. So to see all that hard work pay off this early in her career, she's halfway through her junior year, it just speaks volumes about how much she's contributed on a game-in and game-out basis over the course of her career." 

Despite Spann finding out at halftime that she was so close to history, she played it off and didn't worry about it.

"I did [feel the pressure] but then I was like 'alright just get over it,'" she said.

And get over it she did. Spann added eight points in the second half to finish with 14, one of four Lady Lions to reach double figures on the night. Despite coming off the bench the last couple of games, her ability to perform on the court hasn't slowed down. 

"It's a luxury as a coach to know that at any time we can put Lindsey in," Washington said. "She's hot off the bench. She's going to come in and she's going to push tempo. She gets shots up, she shoots at a very high percentage and so she's gong to change the game [when she's playing]."

As Washington has figured out, it's all about timing with Spann. As someone who can quicken the pace on the floor, putting her in when the opposing team is wearing down provides an advantage for Penn State. 

"Oftentimes she's going in when the other team is a little tired and maybe they don't get back, maybe they lose her, maybe they don't remember where she is and that allows her to come in and make some big plays for us and kind of get us going," Washington said. 

Spann finished the game at 1,005 career points, putting her 17 points behind Helen Holloway ('94) and 19 points behind Rashana Barnes ('02) on the all-time scoring list.

She'll have her chance to move up those two spots to 35th all-time when the Lady Lions travel to Indiana for a matchup with the Hoosiers on Monday, January 23. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

By Ryan Berti, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the world of sports, nearly all of the attention is drawn towards the starting lineup. It's where both the credit and criticism find a home depending on whether glory or failure comes a team's way. Arguably more than any other sport, however, the importance of the team extends further than just the starting five in basketball.  Depth plays an extremely vital role in a game that features constant swaps of personnel in real time.


That is no different with the Penn State women's basketball team, as the bench has been the backbone to the team this season.


This of course all starts with depth. In an offseason that saw just two new freshmen join the team's ranks, the Lady Lions returned nine letterwinners and five players with starting experience, losing only Candice Agee and Brianna Banks.


Of that crew, four upperclassmen in junior Lindsey Spann, and seniors Kaliyah Mitchell, Sierra Moore, and Peyton Whitted picked up where they left off and have contributed not just on the court but as leaders for the underclassmen-heavy roster. A lot of those successes have come not from where one might expect in a veteran starting lineup. Instead, much of that production has come from the bench.


The wealth of depth on the roster has given head coach Coquese Washington the ability to constantly tinker with the lineup and make decisions based on personnel and situations rather than by necessity. In her rearrangements, often times she has put a lot of experience on the bench.


"I like our depth and I like that we continue to grow and build it over the course of the season. We've shuffled some things around all season long but I think we're settling into being in a pretty good groove," she said. 


The trio of Spann, Mitchell, and Whitted head the squad that recently has come off the bench to create production in any given situation. In that group alone, you have the Lady Lions' top two rebounders, and two of the team's top three in steals and top five in scoring. Coach Washington said she has been impressed with the crew and says their experience adds another wrinkle to Penn State's attack.


"It absolutely is a wonderful advantage because you have kids coming off the bench with a lot of confidence that understand how to make an impact fairly quickly when they get in the game," Washington said. "You can make adjustments and put people in the game who are experienced in making those adjustments."


Spann said the ability to get many skilled bench players in has proved to be a tactical advantage, as the team is able to take over as soon as the opponent starts to show signs of fatigue.


"We go in and we play up-and-down, we play fast and it helps us be successful having people come in with fresh legs and tiring out the other team with that fast pace that we want to play at," Spann said.


As a result, the bench unit as a whole has paid dividends. In the past 10 games alone, Penn State's bench has outscored its opponent's bench a whopping 247-105, averaging more than 14 points more per game than the opposition. Of those games, only once was the Lady Lion bench outscored. That was against Maryland, where the Terrapins barely edged them, 14-13.


The bench's average of 24.7 points per contest over that span accounts for 37.5 percent of the Blue and White's scoring, showing just how immense the impact has been.


With the boost in energy and results all members of the bench have had this season, Washington has a lot of faith that any of her players can leave their mark once they get out onto the hardwood.



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