Penn State Women's Basketball: Lady Lions Looking to Close Out Final Leg of Regular Season Strong
The No. 8 Penn State women’s basketball team will wind down its conference season with a trip to Iowa on Thursday night to take on the Hawkeyes at 8 p.m.
The Lady Lions have five Big Ten games left in their regular season. After the 71-56 victory over Michigan State on Monday, the team is 10-1 in Big Ten play and 20-3 overall. For Penn State coach Coquese Washington, the win secured the third-straight 20-win season.
The Hawkeyes (16-9, 5-6 Big Ten) have lost their last four games, but Washington is expecting a competitive team. Iowa has five wins over teams ranked in the Top 25, including Purdue and Michigan. However, the Hawkeyes have dropped four straight.
“Lisa Bluder is a fantastic coach and she always finds a way to rally her squad at the end of the season," Washington said. "They put together winning streaks going into the conference tournament so I think that they’re a pretty dangerous team."
The Lady Lions’ confidence continues to grow on and off the court, as Penn State senior guard Alex Bentley won her first career Big Ten Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 11. Bentley averaged 22 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and two assists last week for the Lady Lions.
Washington was surprised this was the two-time first-team All-Big Ten’s first time receiving the conference’s top weekly honor. Washington said Bentley has been more patient on the court and has done a better job of getting more movement on offense.
“She’s just had such an incredible career and she’s had so many big games," Washington said. "It was surprising, but I am happy for her that she got one."
At this point in the season, energy and momentum continue to drive the team to larger and important matchups. Washington stresses the importance of continuing to play with confidence in the final stretch leading into the tournament season.
“We want to go into the Big Ten tournament playing good basketball and playing with confidence," Washington said. “These next five games, I think they’re big. I think every stretch of the season is big.”
Planning for tournament games this early is “wasted energy," according to Washington.
“We’ll start thinking about the Big Ten Tournament after Nebraska and we’ll start thinking about the NCAA Tournament after the Big Ten Tournament,” Washington said.