After last season’s disappointing 12-19 record, the Penn State women’s basketball team has reasons for optimism: a promising freshman class, players back from injuries and depth at every position.
The Lady Lions open their season Friday against Drexel in Philadelphia.
Sophomore point guard Teniya Page, who led the team in scoring and assists last year, will be accompanied by senior Lindsey Spann and sophomore Amari Carter in the backcourt. Seniors Peyton Whitted and Kaliyah Mitchell will be the anchors at forward and center.
Page is expected to step into a bigger role after her breakout year. Last season, she averaged 15.3 points, 4.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds.
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“Teniya is the floor general and the leader of this team,” head coach Coquese Washington said. “She has an affinity for scoring and getting her teammates involved. She had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio as a freshman.”
Depth is expected to be one of the Lady Lions’ strengths. Spann and senior guard Sierra Moore are returning from injuries. Jaylen Williams and Ashanti Thomas are expected to see minutes at forward. The team also will regain a key player in forward De’Janae Boykin after the first semester ends.
“We have two really strong freshmen in Jaida (Travascio-Green) and Siyeh Frazier, who will provide us great depth at the guard position,” Washington said. “Frazier is a quick, really athletic wing that can be disruptive on the defensive end.”
Travascio-Green is known for her three-point shooting, which was on display during the Lady Lions’ exhibition game against Bloomsburg Oct. 30. She was 3 for 5 from three-point range and finished with nine points.
On defense, the team has focused during the offseason on rebounding and contesting shots.
Last year, Penn State primarily played a zone defense; however, the coaching staff believes it will help to sprinkle in man-to-man this season. Washington also wants to create a culture where defense starts on offense.
“First, we have to start by being more efficient on the offensive end,” she said. “We can put pressure on our opponents by making them worry about stopping us as much as we have to worry about stopping them.”
That approach will have to start Friday.
“I expect Drexel to be a confident team playing at home,” Washington said. “They’re a team that likes to shoot the three, so our three-point defense is going to have to be outstanding.”
Matt Castle is a Penn State journalism student.