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Penn State Women's Basketball: Washington Named Big Ten Coach of the Year; Lucas, Bentley Nab First-Team Honors

by on February 27, 2012 8:30 PM

Penn State wrapped up its best regular season in eight years with Sunday’s 74-51 victory against Minnesota, earning the Big Ten Tournament’s No. 1 seed and automatic berth in the quarterfinal round.

Now, the recognition is piling up.

Coach Coquese Washington was named Big Ten Coach of the Year on Monday night, and guards Maggie Lucas and Alex Bentley garnered first-team all-conference honors.

Earlier Monday, the Lady Lions moved up to No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, their highest ranking since finishing fifth in 2004. They will face the winner of Minnesota and Wisconsin at 6 Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where they will look for their third conference tournament title.

“They are a team that’s ready to play in March,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “They’ve got an inside game. They’ve got an outside game. They’ve got shooters. They’ve got penetrators. They’ve got a lot and they’re going to make a deep run in the tournament.”

Penn State is 4-0 against Minnesota and Wisconsin this season, defeating the Gophers by an average of 13 points and the Badgers by 24 points.

If Penn State can advance to the semifinal round, it will likely face the winner of Purdue and Michigan State, a much tougher matchup.

The Lady Lions defeated Purdue by 11 on Feb. 16 at Mackey Arena but got swept by Michigan State, including the only double-digit loss on the year for the Nits.

Penn State (23-5, 13-3 Big Ten) has won its first outright Big Ten regular season title since 2003-04, when it advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

Thursday’s first round games:

  • No. 7 Michigan vs. No. 10 Illinois
  • No. 6 Nebraska vs. No. 11 Northwestern
  • No. 8 Minnesota vs. No. 9 Wisconsin
  • No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Indiana

The complete Big Ten Tournament bracket is available as a PDF here.

Related coverage:

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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