Penn State Women's Basketball: Several Lady Lions Honored as Team Looks to Extend Winning Streak vs. Minnesota
The Penn State women’s basketball team will take on Minnesota at 6:30 Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
With a 15-2 start on the season and a 6-0 start in Big Ten play, the Lady Lions are off to their best start since the 1999-00 season, which ended with a berth in the Final Four. Penn State coach Coquese Washington stressed the importance of a well-balanced coaching staff and confidence as the team entered practice Wednesday.
“When you put a win streak together, you just get confidence,” Washington said. “Regardless of what happens during the game, we will find a way to be successful.”
The Lady Lions took possession of first place in the Big Ten and secured their spot as the lone unbeaten team in Big Ten play on Monday against the Michigan Wolverines. Senior center Nikki Greene was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the week ending Jan. 21 after averaging a double-double in two consecutive wins. This marked the first time Greene has won the award in her four years of college play.
The team has shown a lot of support for each other over the course of the season.
“When Coach told us that, she also said that was her first time getting that award in all four years and I was actually shocked," sophomore forward Tori Waldner said. "Nikki is a great player, and I’m just glad that she finally got that award.”
Greene averaged 15.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and shot 59.1 percent from the field. Previously, Greene earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Dec. 14, 2009.
“She has been very smart, for a good portion of the season, in not picking up those, what I call, choice falls,” Washington said. “Giving her an opportunity to play in the game for longer stretches, and even though she had a little bit of foul trouble against Michigan, I think because she has been playing more basketball and playing for longer stretches, her confidence is really high right now.”
The team continues to excel as the season goes on. Senior point guard Alex Bentley and junior guard Maggie Lucas are two of 20 players that have been named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason list. The duo are two of three players from the Big Ten on the list, joining Tayler Hill from Ohio State. The list is comprised of players who, based on their accomplishments in November, December and January, are the frontrunners for selection to the ballot of college basketball’s top award.
Moving forward against the Gophers Thursday night, the Lady Lions have been working on picking up their defensive game from their down performance against Michigan on Monday. In the midst of a Big Ten schedule, the team is keying in on what it can control on the floor.
“We have a focus that it doesn’t matter what happens on the offensive end, the defensive end of the floor can be consistent. If we shoot the ball great, then fantastic,” Washington said. “If we don't shoot the ball well, we know we can rely on the effort, the intensity and the focus on the defensive end to help us stay in the game or win the game.”