By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com 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.