|Follow PSU Women's Basketball:||Follow @PennStateWBB|
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- It was fitting that Mountain View Country Club served as the host to the annual Lady Lions Senior Awards Banquet on Wednesday (April 5), as it was also where the Lady Lion program and head coach Coquese Washington kicked off the 2016-17 season with its first community event.
The golf course at Mountain View Country Club hosted the Ninth Annual Coquese's Drive for the Centre County Women's Resource Center in August and tonight (April 5) served as the site for the annual awards celebration to honor the three seniors and multiple award winners for the program.
The 2016-17 season saw a variety of accomplishments for the program, including a return to the national postseason and winning two games in the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The program tied a school record for home victories in a season, equaling the 2002-03 squad's mark of 16 wins on the home floor, and set a school standard with just 13.0 turnovers per game - the lowest average by a Lady Lion squad in school history.
Of the six individual awards handed out, there were five different winners. For the second-straight season the Joanie O'Brien Most Outstanding Player award went to Teniya Page (Chicago, Ill.) and the Robin Lombard "Spirit" Award was presented to Sarah McMurtry (Pittsburgh, Pa.). McMurtry also received the Academic Achievement Award, owning the highest cumulative GPA on the team.
The Most Improved Player award went to Sierra Moore (Hanover, Pa.), the Jeannette Goss Courage/Leadership Award winner, Amari Carter (Washington, D.C.), and the Collegiate Pride Most Outstanding Defensive Player award was earned by Kaliyah Mitchell (Stone Mountain, Ga.).
The Tom Caldwell "Unsung Hero" Award went to a group that many fans never see or interact with, as the Penn State Lady Lion practice squad -- also known as the Red Dragons -- were honored as the award recipients.
The Lady Lion Cager Club handed out a pair of honors, as Cheryl Anderson was named the Ruth Ingram Fan of the Year and Mary McCahan was bestowed Hank Gambocurta Service Award, as the long-time Lady Lion Administrative Support Assistant will be retiring at the end of the academic year.
A breakdown of the award winners are below.
Joanie O'Brien Most Outstanding Player Award
Teniya Page | So. | Chicago, Ill.
A honorable mention All-America selection by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, Page became just the fourth sophomore in Penn State history to eclipse the 1,000-point mark and is the only Lady Lion to ever make 200 field goals, 60 3-pointers and 100 free throws, and hand out 100 assists in the same season. Along with her All-American honors, Page was the fourth sophomore in PSU laurels to earn a consensus selection to the All-Big Ten First Team after ranking No. 21 nationally and No. 5 in the Big Ten at 19.9 points per game. Her .441 shooting percentage from 3-point range ranked No. 9 nationally and her 618 points finished 36th in the NCAA and No. 9 on the single season charts at Penn State. Her four 30-point games during the season marked the most since Kelly Mazzante had nine during the 2002-03 season.
Collegiate Pride Defensive Player of the Year
Kaliyah Mitchell | Sr. | Stone Mountain, Ga.
The team leader in steals and blocked shots, Mitchell hung her hat on being an intense defender during her career, while also attacking the boards. The senior blocked a career-high 24 shots and added 39 steals to a team-best 5.8 rebounds per game. Of her 186 boards, Mitchell pulled in 130 on the defensive boards to lead the team. Her efforts on the boards and via the steal created multiple fast-break opportunities for the Lady Lions -- a few of which Mitchell was able to finish on the offensive end with points. Whether starting (19 games) or coming off the bench (13 games), Mitchell could always be counted on for her defensive intensity.
Most Improved Player Award & Academic Achievement Award
Sierra Moore | Sr. | Hanover, Pa.
After 617 days away from the court, Moore made a comeback that set the tone for the Lady Lions early in the season. A 15-point effort in the season opener at Drexel was just a sign of things to come for Moore, as she excelled off the bench and in a starting role for the Lady Lions in 2016-17. She scored in double-figures in nine straight games at the end of the season -- a career long streak -- and totaled 21 games with 10-plus points. Her efforts on defense and in rebounding were solid, as well, ranking No. 2 on the team with 5.4 rebounds per game and No. 4 on the squad with 21 steals. She shot a team-best .489 from the field and added 56 assists in her final season.
Tom Caldwell "Unsung Hero" Award
The Red Dragons Practice Squad
This is a group that rarely noticed for their work outside of the Bryce Jordan Center. The Lady Lion practice squad delivers in rain, snow, sleet or sunny weather. They are the opponent before the opponent arrives at the gym and put nearly as much work as the student-athletes do. Their efforts help the Lady Lions hone their craft and prepare for each opponent.
Jeannette Goss Courage/Leadership Award
Amari Carter | R-Fr. | Washington, D.C.
Courage and leadership are two traits that a point guard must have and to step into the point guard role for a Coquese Washington team as a first-year player takes a wealth or both attributes, so for Amari Carter to return from injury in 2015-16 and run the team like a veteran earned her this award. Carter finished the season ranked No. 13 nationally and her 134 assists finished No. 5 on the Penn State freshman charts. The 32 starts made by Carter are tied for the fourth most by a rookie in school history, as well. On the season, she produced 13 games with five-plus assists and two-or-fewer turnovers, while committing fewer than two turnovers in a game on 27 occasions.
Robin Lombard "Spirit" Award & Academic Achievement Award
Sarah McMurtry | So. | Pittsburgh, Pa.
Elected as a team tri-captain prior to the season, McMurtry continued to be one of the hardest working student-athletes on and off the court for the Lady Lions. She appeared in eight games in 2016-17, and her contributions in practice and the example she set for the team in the classroom make her a role model for all Penn Staters. Her attitude and drive improve the program and inspire her teammates, while her work in the classroom earned her the highest GPA on the team. McMurtry is carrying on a long family tradition, as each member of her immediate family has graduate from Penn State, while her father also played baseball at Penn State. McMurtry joined the squad as a walk on in 2015-16 and earned a scholarship for the 2016-17 season.