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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer    
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Lady Lions hit the court against Michigan on Sunday, Jan. 17th, they'll be doing so in unity with breast cancer survivors across the commonwealth for the annual Pink Zone game. In it's tenth year, the Lady Lions have continued to join forces with the Pennsylvania Pink Zone to present the game.

Head coach Coquese Washington has seen the event grow tremendously since she has been at Penn State, with over 700 survivors honored during last year's game.

The notoriety that the game has garnered from the team and the community has also led to more funds being raised. After raising just over $20,000 in 2007, Pink Zone topped over $300,000 in 2015. Washington is proud to have her team be a part of something so positive for the community.

"When you look at the amount of funds raised, that's one of the things that we're most proud of," Washington said. "And the vast majority of the funds that we raise stay right here, locally, in Centre County and in the state of Pennsylvania so the impact that we're having, it's touching the people who support Lady Lion Basketball, it's touching people that support Penn State."

Washington and her staff want their players to understand who and what they're playing for when they put on their pink uniforms each year. Many of the players have been touched by cancer personally, and Washington wants to give them the opportunity to express themselves.

"We try to make sure that they (the players) understand it," Washington said. "We do some different programming throughout the year with our team so they understand what Pink Zone is about and we give them an opportunity to talk about how cancer has touched them. We want them to put their arms around it, [and see] that it's not just 'oh, we play in pink uniforms.' There's a lot of history and a lot that goes into it and we want them to certainly be aware of what it all means." 

Junior Peyton Whitted has seen first-hand what it takes to defeat breast cancer. Her grandmother Lillie McKinley fought the disease while Whitted was in high school, and even moved in with Whitted and her family in order to recover.

"My grandmother had breast cancer when I was in high school. She was able to survive from it and she fought it for about 3-4 years. It was just tough because we had to move her from Tennessee because my grandfather was struggling with lung cancer at the time, as well. So we had to move both of them back into our house [in Georgia] and just take care of them," Whitted said. 

After seeing her grandma bravely fight breast cancer, the Pink Zone game holds that much more meaning to Whitted.

"This game is really special to me because I think about my grandmother and her being able to watch the game is exciting because she's here, she fought through this and it's great to see all the other survivors along with her," Whitted said. "It's just a great feeling just to do that but it also makes you reflect and be thankful that you're able to do what you love." 

Whitted and her teammates play an important role in making the Pink Zone game successful. The team hosts fundraisers throughout the year, and even visit patients to show their support for their fight.

"We do a lot of things as far as our community service," Whitted said. "We do the Hoop Shoot before football games where we try to raise money for the cause and people just come and shoot with us. Two years ago we met with patients and we talked to them, so we want to make sure that we're doing our part as far as having them come support us and then also supporting them by raising money." 

As game day draws closer, Washington is looking forward to another successful Pink Zone game. Breaking records year after year, she is hoping that this year's game will be just as great as the previous ones.

"It's a great day for us; our kids absolutely love it; they absolutely love the Pink Zone game. I'm looking forward to it and hopefully we'll have another spectacular year this year in terms of survivors and funds raised and the experience. I'm sure the experience is going to be a fantastic [one]," Washington said. 

The Pink Zone game is Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip is set for 2:00 p.m.

 

 

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Teniya Page scored 16 points to lead three Lady Lions in double figures, but it wasn't enough as Penn State (6-8 (1-2 Big Ten) fell to #23 Michigan State, 71-55, in the Bryce Jordan Center Thursday night. 

After Penn State tied the game at two on a Brianna Banks jumper, the Spartans came back and took a lead they would not give up the rest of the evening.  While the slow start put the Lady Lions behind, head coach Coquese Washington thought the looks were still there on offense for her squad.   

"I think for the most part they were shots that we took against Northwestern, shots we took against Minnesota and they didn't fall tonight," she said.  "You've got your leading scorers taking shots."

Despite some shots not falling for Penn State, the Lady Lions battled all night long, and Washington was able to take away positives from game.  

"I definitely think there are some positives, we played well in spurts," Washington said following the game.  "We've got to string those together and continue to work and grow defensively."

Page seemed to lead those spurts on the offensive end, as the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week's 16 points led the Lady Lions in the scoring column, while also filling the box score with five rebounds and two assists.  Washington saw those spurts in her freshman point guard's play, and there is still room to grow as Page gains more experience at the Big Ten level.  

"She's learning and growing as a freshman, she certainly had good numbers tonight, and there's certainly things she can learn from this game," Washington said.  "She's played three Big Ten games now and I think there's a lot of things that she's learning and picking up and she'll continue to grow over the course of the season."

Washington wasn't the only coach that saw positives from Page's performance, as Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant also came away impressed.   

"She's a talented player, I love how she plays," Merchant said in talking about Page postgame.  "She does a really good job running that team, as a freshman that's not an easy thing to do coming in as a first year kid.  She's very sure of herself, a highly highly skilled player, and athletic at the same time." 

While Page led Penn State in scoring, she wasn't the only Lady Lion that put the ball in the basket.  She was joined in the double-digit scoring column by two upperclassmen, as redshirt senior Brianna Banks added 14 points and senior Candice Agee chipped in 10 points and five rebounds to balance the scoring load. 

Back-to-back basics and a five point run by Banks cut the Michigan State lead to 26-20 in the second quarter, but that was the closest the Lady Lions came the rest of the way. 

The Lady Lions will look to get back in the win column on Sunday, as they travel to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers at 4:00 p.m on the Big Ten Network.   

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Freshman guard Teniya Page has shined all season long in a point guard role for the Penn State Lady Lions, but it's a recent attitude shift that has taken the team's leading scorer to a new level at the start of Big Ten play. 

Page, who leads the 6-7 (1-1 Big Ten) Lady Lions in scoring at 14.8 points per game, picked up her first career Big Ten honor this past week, taking home the conference's Big Ten Freshman of the Week award.  The recognition came at a perfect time for the Lady Lions, as they prepare to take on their second Big Ten Top 25 opponent of the season in Michigan State, Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. 

For head coach Coquese Washington, a new aggressive mindset has been the biggest change in her young point guard at this point in the season. 

"She's getting more aggressive on offense and that's something we've talked to her about, especially with the team's injuries she's got to be more aggressive" Washington said.  "Early in the season it took her awhile and the vast majority of her shots were coming in the third and fourth quarter.  Now she's doing a better job being aggressive and attacking from the beginning." 

"She's helping us get off to a better start, quicker starts to game," she added about Page.  "That's one area she's grown, being in attack mode for 40 minutes."

Page echoed her head coach regarding her recent attitude shift.     

"I think I was looking to pass the ball more than I should (early in the season), and not take as many open shots," she said.  "Coquese has gotten on me about taking shots where I'm open or being aggressive because I help the team."

While the honor was the first of Page's young career, Washington said that the recognition wouldn't change the guard's play, an attitude that has helped her all season.

"She's a pretty steady kid," Washington said.  "That's an excellent quality for her to have as a point guard.  She doesn't get to high with the highs and low with the lows, and in the games you see that.  She just keeps playing and keeps her confidence high in what she can do."

Page and the rest of the Lady Lions will need that confidence as they get ready to take on the 10-3 (1-1 Big Ten) Spartans Thursday night.   Michigan State, ranked 23rd in the latest AP Poll, bring a balanced attack to Happy Valley. 

 "You look at Michigan State's guards in (Tori) Jankoska and Areil Powers, they're volume shooters and they get a lot of shots.  It's really tough to shut down players that get that many shots.  They can take over games."

"What really makes Michigan State tough this year is their balance because Jasmine Hines is playing really well inside for them," she added.  "You've got the two kids on the outside and then Jasmine Hines who is playing probably the best basketball of her career.  We're definitely going to be challenged." 

Despite the tough road ahead in Big Ten play, with their aggressive point guard leading the attack the Lady Lions will be ready for any challenge that comes their way.  

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

University Park, Pa.- With the game still in jeopardy, Teniya Page calmly let Northwestern know that she wasn't going to let her team lose their conference opener.  With under three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Page took charge on a fast break and hit a huge three-pointer that gave the Lady Lions a 69-64 lead, one that they would not look back from, as Penn State defeated No. 14 Northwestern 79-72 at the Bryce Jordan Center. 

Page could have driven the lane for a lay-up, but she made a gutsy decision and pulled up for the big three-pointer.  According to head coach Coquese Washington, Page showed a lot of confidence in herself to be able to take and hit a shot like that. 

"You know what, I trust [our guards]. If she felt like that was a good shot for her, I'll go with her and support her," Washington said.  "It was a shot where if she makes it, it is great but if she were to miss it, it really wouldn't hurt us that much. I like the confidence that it took for her to take it. She has been playing a great game. I trust her. It turned out to be a really big shot for us."

With the win, the Blue and White would hand the Wildcats their second loss of the season, and it could not have been accomplished without a lights out performance from the star freshman.  Page scored 27 points on the night, notching her second 20-point game in her young career in Happy Valley. The Lions are also fortunate to be able to pair her with some experience in the backcourt. 

Senior guard Brianna Banks starts alongside Page, and she had a career night as well, dropping 25 points and nabbing seven rebounds while adding three steals.  She also was near perfect from the charity stripe, knocking down 11 of 12 free throws, with some coming in the waning minutes.  The mix of the athletic, young guard in Page with the experienced leader in Banks forms a dynamic duo that allows Penn State to be able to win big conference games like the one on Thursday, especially close contests.

Banks credited the way the team practiced for the way the team came out and played on Thursday.

"I was just trying to be aggressive in the game today. That was my main motive. Being aggressive and strong was really a point of emphasis in practice."

Page reinforced the aggressive mindset the team has after the game.

"It was about coming out and shooting the ball rather than passing up shots," she said.  "Taking care of the ball and making free throws at the end were the two big things."


Northwestern began the night on a 16-9 run, but back-to-back layups thanks to some crisp passing, and a big three-pointer from Page allowed the Lady Lions to tie the game at 16.  The ability to adjust and find go-to players is critical in Big Ten play, and it seemed all night that Banks and Page were two players that would not allow Northwestern to run away with the game even after going on a few runs. Washington had a feeling her guards were starting to get into a zone coming into the game. 

"The way our guard play is rounding out, I think our play is becoming more consistent," she said.

Washington got the consistency she wanted from her guards and then some in a win that could really swing momentum in Penn State's favor moving through the Big Ten during the New Year. 

The Lady Lions will look to continue the up-tempo style of play and aggressiveness in the team's first away conference game of the season, January 3rd in Minneapolis against the Golden Gophers of Minnesota.  

 

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--Just before the New Year rolls in at midnight Thursday into Friday morning, a new phase of the season will be starting up for the Lady Lions basketball team Thursday afternoon. That new phase is the Big Ten portion of the schedule, and head coach Coquese Washington has her team prepared to face a strong conference this season.

"It's certainly different than non-conference play," Washington said. "We look at the season as phases; you have the non-conference phase, you have the conference phase, then you have the Big Ten Tournament and postseason play. We're in phase two and we're ready to get it going."

The Lady Lions open Big Ten play against Northwestern on New Year's Eve, and the road the team is travelling on will start to bring more challenges than what they have seen so far. Sophomore Lindsey Spann doesn't mind these new challenges. The guard is itching to get the conference season underway, and views it as a fresh start for the team.

"It's kind of like a new start to the season and we're taking it game by game," Spann said. "We're really excited to start off against Northwestern, and that's our focus right now, but Big Ten play is always exciting for us."

With non-conference play behind them, Washington and her staff have learned a lot about their young team since November. The one thing that Washington has noticed in that time period is her team's tendency to be inconsistent. Non-conference opponents saw games that had a solid defensive showing but a poor offensive output, and vice versa.

"I think the biggest thing for us is consistency and putting both [parts of the game] together in the same game. I think we've done that a couple of times but for me the biggest thing is consistency on both ends of the court," Washington said.

While Washington was impressed with how her guards played to start of the season, there's still a lot of emphasis on them as well to be more consistent for the remainder of the season. The guards have been some of the most consistent players, but Washington thinks that is still an area that they can improve upon.

"I like the way our guard play is rounding out, I think our guard play is becoming more consistent," Washington said. "We just have to get a little bit more consistency and I think that will be the thing that we really focus on and talk a lot about going into conference play."

The challenges of playing in the Big Ten after playing non-conference range from size to depth. The Lady Lions will have to adjust to these changes as they translate their play from smaller, non-conference teams to taller and stronger Big Ten teams.

"I certainly think we're playing against opponents that might challenge us in different ways in terms of having more size, more athleticism, more depth. When you're playing against that, it's a little bit different than some, but not all, of our non-conference opponents," Washington said. 

With the Big Ten boasting four teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, Washington knows that she and her team will have their work cut out for them in the coming weeks. Washington says that playing in "arguably the best conference in the country" brings its challenges, but also makes each game fun.

"When you go one to 14, there's just a lot of really strong teams in our conference, really good coaching, and some outstanding individual players and it means for tough games every single night in Big Ten play," Washington said. "That's what makes our conference fun; you're going to have those kind of tough, challenging games night-in and night-out and it makes it fun to play in the Big Ten."

A big adjustment that the team is going to have to make in conference play is playing 18 straight games without any byes. Washington points out that it's something all teams will have to do, and that it's going to be tough to play through. The main thing Washington wants her team to do to combat this is to "stay focused and locked in on what's ahead of us."

"Once you get in conference play, with the Big Ten in particular, with the variety of coaching styles and playing styles that we're going to see, certain conference play tends to be more arduous than non-conference play," Washington said. "Getting through this conference season this year with 18 games and no byes, that's going to be tough on all teams, so we'll just take it game-by-game and focus on each opponent as they come."

The Lady Lions finished the non-conference portion of the season at 5-6, ending on a high note with an 83-46 win over Sacred Heart. The big win gives the team some momentum heading into conference play. 

"It gives us great momentum, coming off a win like that by a big scoring margin. We're really excited, knowing how fast we can play and just doing what we do well," Spann said.

The Lady Lions tip off the Big Ten season against Northwestern at 2:00 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park.

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University Park, Pa.- Lindsey Spann and Brianna Banks combined for 40 points and four players scored in double-figures as a balanced effort led the Penn State Lady Lions to an 83-46 win over Sacred Heart Sunday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.     

Banks, who scored a career-high 26 points last week vs. St. Bonaventure, didn't wait long to get going Sunday afternoon, as she scored six of her 17 points to help Penn State jump out to a quick 8-2 lead three minutes into the game.  Her nine first quarter points sparked a 22-15 lead after one. 

"Our kids were ready to go," head coach Coquese Washington said, despite some technical difficulties with the clock delaying the start by a few minutes.

"They just stayed loose and once the game got going were able to start off strong," she added.  "It was probably one of the most important things coming into this game to start strong, because we had been talking about that all week in practice." 

While Banks got the scoring going early, it was Spann who led PSU on the day with 23 points, including 12 in the first half, in the win. 

"I just tried to stay aggressive and my teammates were finding me the ball," Spann said following the win.  "I was just trying to attack the basket and find open spots." 

Spann wasn't the only aggressive Lady Lion, as her 23 points were followed by Banks with 17, and Teniya Page and Kaliyah Mitchell with 15 apiece.  Mitchell also chipped in with 11 rebounds for the double-double. 

Having all four play well was a huge plus for the home team.

"It's really important (to have that balance) and I think that speaks to our aggressiveness," Washington said.  "We have to be aggressive offensively and I thought Teniya Page set the pace for that early with the way she was attacking and pushing the ball in transition."

"It's a lot of fun that everyone's involved, especially getting up and down the floor" added Page.   

The Lady Lions used that aggressiveness, and a 9-2 scoring run to open the second quarter, to create a 31-17 double-digit lead they would not give back the rest of the afternoon. 

A strong defensive effort complimented the balanced offense, as Sacred Heart turned the ball over 11 times in the first half against PSU's defense as opposed to only taking the ball from the Lady Lions four times.  The margin helped give Penn State a 39-28 lead heading into the halftime break.

"I think it's really important for us to limit our turnovers," Spann said.  "It gives up more possessions and we can take advantage of the defense if we get stops and go produce in transition."

Spann stayed strong in the second half as she ended the third quarter with a layup to give her 21 points on the day  This was the second time this season she hit the 20-point mark in a game, as her basket pushed Penn State's lead to 24.  Spann's previous season-high was 20 vs. Virginia Tech. 

That margin heading into the fourth left no doubt of the outcome as PSU outscored Sacred Heart 21-8 in the final frame to secure the win. 

The victory this afternoon was the final non-conference test for Penn State this regular season, as they will have an 11-day layoff before opening Big Ten play. 

"it's great to end on a positive note (heading into the layoff)," Washington said.  "We certainly had our share of adversity during the non-conference season so to end on a note like this where we played fairly well and have a lot of things to build on, I think that's a good thing."

The Lady Lions begin the Big Ten portion of their schedule with a 2:00 p.m. tip-off vs. Northwestern at the Bryce Jordan Center on December 31st



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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Things started to fall into place Tuesday night for the Lady Lions in the first half against Youngstown State, when they were up 19-11 with the ball with just over eight minutes remaining in the second quarter.  Then, Kaliyah Mitchell took control.  A corner three by Penn State was off the mark, but Mitchell corralled the rebound, pivoted towards the basket and put it in off the glass, drawing a foul and giving her team an 11-point lead.  The Blue and White would never look back in a 68-51 win.

In the third quarter with 6:37 left, Mitchell showed the first play down in the paint was not a fluke.  Mitchell reeled in a bounce pass from Candace Agee, who was posted up on the opposite block, and laid it in, absorbing contact and the foul.  She would go on to make the free throw that would give Penn State a 16-point lead.

Mitchell finished with her first double-double of the campaign, and the fifth of her career, contributing 16 points along with 12 rebounds.  It seemed like it was a game that could really get the power forward going, which is exactly what her team needs her to do.

"It feels good just to get back in the swing of things.  I know I've been off [during] the beginning of the season, but now it seems like I've really got in tune with the game and focused so I was pretty excited," said Mitchell.

Penn State's victory over previously undefeated Youngstown State was important because it stopped a four-game losing skid and allowed the Lady Lions to get back to paying winning basketball.  Head coach Coquese Washington was especially happy with the way her team came out early on in the first quarter, firing on all cylinders. 

""We took care of the ball.  I don't know how many turnovers we had in the first quarter but we were able to get good shots early in the game."

Washington always stresses the importance of having what she calls a "high-activity level," and she thought Kaliyah Mitchell had that going Tuesday night.

"I think her activity level, you know, we talked about after the last game how she wasn't really aggressive and asserting attacking the backboard and tonight she was really aggressive and active going after rebounds."

After falling down early 7-0, Penn State came roaring back, pulling out to a 19-9 lead in the first half.  The Penguins were able to get it back to a seven-point deficit in the second half, but Penn State ended up pulling away late and overpowering Youngstown State physically in the paint to come away with the easy win.

Guard Lindsey Spann appeared to go down with an ankle injury in the first half, but she was able to walk it off and had a big impact on the game, totaling 13 points and two assists in 28 minutes.   A lot of expectations were put on Spann, and Washington is adamant that she is more than handling the pressure.

"You guys were asking questions about Lindsey and I told you then I wasn't worried about Lindsey, that she would find her way and she'd start making shots and she has," Washington said. "She puts a lot of work in, she's a really good shooter and she opens up things for our post players and she opens up the floor for our drivers."

The Lady Lions will hit the road to face St. Bonaventure Saturday at 1:30 p.m., looking to go back to the .500 mark on the young season. 

 


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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Lady Lions travelled to the University of South Florida over the weekend, they did not emerge victorious, but they did walk away with a newfound confidence. 

The 101-79 loss to USF marked the first time that five Lady Lions would reach double-digit scoring in a single game since 2012. Kaliyah Mitchell, Lindsey Spann, Brianna Banks, Teniya Page and Peyton Whitted all reached double figures for Penn State, with Mitchell leading the pack with 18.

While the scoring efforts of those five were not enough against USF, the team hopes that they can build off that for the remainder of the season. Having multiple scoring options allows the Lady Lions to threaten from all around the court, and is something head coach Coquese Washington loves to have. 

"It's very valuable [having options]," Washington said. "That's one of the things I love in terms of coaching, I prefer to have multiple people who can do some things offensively, so we can continue to have four, five people in double figures. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense." 

Putting pressure on the defense with multiple threats is something that Washington's squad will look to do as they face Youngstown State on Tuesday. After scoring 17 points against USF, sophomore Lindsey Spann knows how important it will be for the entire team to bring that offensive momentum into the game in order to generate a strong showing against the undefeated Penguins.

"It's very important [to have that balance]," Spann said. "It shows that we're a team where we have multiple threats, so we can share the ball and find the open person. We have a lot of people who can score and knock down shots so we can get everyone involved."

After seeing what everyone is capable of in Florida, the team has high expectations of each other for the rest of the season. While the team may have known what each other could do in practice, now that they know they can successfully execute a game plan with multiple scorers, the Lady Lions are as excited as ever for the future. 

"That game showed that we're well-rounded, [and we can] have everybody get a chance to touch the ball and score," Mitchell said. "That just got us all really going for the season. Yes, we lost a couple of games, but that game, despite the outcome, it really showed us what everybody can do and how we can all contribute to one another." 

The ability to have multiple high-scoring players per game opens up a whole new world of opportunity for the Lady Lions. Spann has high hopes for what this means for the success the team will be able to achieve down the road. 

"A lot of times, teams that have equal scoring across the board are the teams that are most successful, where everyone's contributing, playing their role, doing their part, so that's something that will help give us a lot of success this season," Spann said. "We have a team full of threats and a lot of people can score in different ways so that's something we're going and try to put to use."

As the team prepares for Youngstown State, the Lady Lions are hoping that they can repeat that same offensive proficiency, but this time with a more preferable outcome.

"Moving forward, we're going to make big strides," Mitchell said. "Now that we saw what each other can do [in a game], we just push each other harder in practice. We've all put it out there, now it's just time to put it together." 

The Lady Lions take on Youngstown State on Tuesday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip is set for 7:00 p.m.


11537865.jpeg By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - With 35 seconds on the clock and down by six points, Penn State needed a quick shot coming out of a timeout in order to cut into Virginia Tech's lead. Lindsey Spann received the inbound pass and wasted no time, immediately turning and going for the deep 3-pointer with a defender in her face.

Swish.

The sophomore's twentieth point of the game hit nothing but net, bringing the Lady Lions to within three with 31 seconds on the clock. But a foul on the rebound put the Hokies at the free throw line, and after sinking both shots, the five-point deficit proved to be too much for Penn State. The Lady Lions ultimately fell to Virginia Tech 64-59. 

The game proved to be somewhat of a coming out party for Spann, who has had a relatively quiet year after leading the team in scoring average her freshman season. Her 20 points were a season-high, topping her previous high of 14 at Tennessee, and she also tied a career high with six free throws made.

Only her third double-digit scoring effort of the season, Spann has been putting in a lot of work to try and up that total. The difference against the Hokies was the trust she put in herself and her teammates, as well as taking the right shots at the right time. 

"I kept trusting in myself and my teammates. When I was open, I took shots," Spann said. "I'm still doing the same things, I'm working on my shot every day so I just try and come [into] the game prepared. I've been struggling with my shot but I keep shooting and it went in tonight so moving forward, [I'm] just trying to stay consistent." 

A big part of Spann's success came from the limited action that senior Brianna Banks saw. Head coach Coquese Washington had said prior to the game that if Banks was not 100 percent from an ankle injury she suffered against Tennessee, she would be relying on Spann to provide a spark. When Banks rolled her other ankle midway through the second quarter against Virginia Tech, Spann knew exactly what she had to do.

"I come into every game focused and trying to be ready to play so whatever my team needs then that's what I come in here to do," Spann said.

Washington saw Spann play with a level of confidence that started to build towards the end of the second quarter. Spann scored the teams final eight points of the quarter, and then carried that momentum with her into the second half. 

"I thought the second half in particular she made some big shots for us, she was a big reason we were able to cut into that lead offensively," Washington said. "Leading into the second half she got a little bit of confidence, getting to the basket, picking up some fouls, getting to the free throw line, so once she got on a roll she got a lot of confidence." 

With Banks now day-to-day as she nurses her ankle, Spann is going to have to continue to bring that spark that Washington relies on her to have. The main thing Washington is focused on for her team moving forward is avoiding slow starts, which she credits to poor execution early on. 

"We're getting slow starts because we're not executing very well at the start of the game," Washington said.

The Lady Lions will travel to Florida over the weekend to take on the University of South Florida on Sunday. Tip is set for 3:00 p.m.



By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Coquese Washington certainly knows how to get on her players' good sides.  Washington bought her team a private luxury suite at the Clippers' game during the team's recent Thanksgiving trip to California that provided an opportunity to take in some basketball, relax and bond as a unit.  Junior Peyton Whitted was quick to name that memory as one of her fondest over the break.

"It was fun to mingle around and watch a great game and watch Blake Griffin play," said Whitted. 

But now it is time for the team to refocus on the non-conference portion of the schedule, as the Hokies of Virginia Tech pay the Lady Lions a visit at the Bryce Jordan Center Thursday as part of the B1G/ACC Challenge.

The good thing for Penn State moving forward is how dominant Whitted has been playing, notching her fourth double-digit point total of the young season against BYU over the Thanksgiving recess.

"The biggest thing outside of her confidence is her effort level; she's active," said Washington.

Washington realized Whitted was playing very actively when she popped in a recent game tape to watch with her staff.  Whitted drove the baseline, got knocked down, and passed to a player on the outside.  The three-ball was no good, and Whitted jumped up, fought for the rebound and put in the bucket, drawing a foul in the process. 

"I mean, that kind of activity level is what's making her so consistent in her numbers," said Washington. 

But it is the post players on the whole that are providing some sparks for the Lady Lions while star guard Brianna Banks is out battling injury.  Candice Agee has also proven to be a major asset for the team, as she recorded her 100th career block during her return to her home state of California.

"We have a lot of confidence in [our post players], I think Candace has proven that she can be a handful and we have a lot of confidence to give her the ball.  Same thing with Peyton," said Washington.

Virginia Tech is a tough matchup for the Blue and White, as the Hokies are 5-1 on the season.  They are a super-aggressive team on the defensive side of the ball, with a balance of guards that can shoot and athletic post players on offense.  Penn State will have to bring an A-effort to get by coach Dennis Wolff's team.

"We're obviously going to have to talk a lot on defense about the shooters and just make sure we box out and limit them to one possession per trip," said Whitted.

"It heightens everyone's intensity playing a team like Virginia Tech," added Washington.

But one thing Washington's team has is confidence, and they realize that every game is a tough grind.  Washington was asked if Virginia Tech gives her club a major challenge that will prep the team for Big Ten Conference play.

"That's every team we play," said Washington without hesitation.

Virginia Tech is a big game at home, but every game will give the players an opportunity to grow heading into conference play.     


@GOPSUSPORTS

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