After two straight road losses in early January, the Penn State women’s basketball team needed help from its bench to earn a crucial home win.
Junior guard Lindsey Spann stepped up and led the Lady Lions with 17 points to earn a 76-46 win over Wisconsin. Head coach Coquese Washington called the contributions of Spann and the bench critical.
“I think it’s critical that we get pieces from everybody,” Washington said. “I think we are at our best when we are not relying on one or two people.”
During the 2016 portion of the 2016-17 season, Spann was a starter for all 12 games. But since the start of 2017, Spann has been coming off the bench for the last eight. Washington decided to start true freshman sharpshooter Jada Travascio-Green in Spann’s place. Despite the tough decision, Washington says Spann has embraced her new role.
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“She’s a constantly been a team player,” Washington said. “Nothing has changed with how she played. When she comes off the bench, she’s aggressive looking for her shot, she gets after it on the defensive end.”
Washington says the aspects she saw in Spann’s game in high school is appearing in her game today.
“One of things about Lindsey is the variety of ways she impacts the game,” Washington said. “In high school, she was someone who made her teammates better with her passing. She really got after it defensively and that’s what you want out of your smaller guards. She has really improved that since she got to college. She’s playing and using the gifts we saw out of her in high school.”
Spann had a great high school career, leading Good Counsel to the 2012 WCAC Championship and became the first team in league history to finish with an undefeated record (18-0), what Spann calls the highlight of her high school career.
“It was great,” said Spann. “We set a conference record, I had some other top people on my team that I was playing with. We definitely fed off each other, which made us a more dominant team.”
Even though Spann now comes off the bench, she is the second-leading scorer for the Lady Lions and is tied for 25th in the Big Ten, averaging 11.1 points per game.
But this is not the first time Spann has faced adversity as a member of the Lady Lions basketball team.
In July 2013, Spann tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a workout and did not play that season. Spann says the injury helped shape her into the 1,000-point scorer she has become.
“Freshman year I just watched from the sidelines and just tried to take it all in,” she said. “Over the years, just seeing what I can take advantage of. The rim has been nice to me and the ball has gone into the rim, taking smarter shots over the years.”
Washington says Spann coming off the bench adds a dynamic to the Lady Lions they did not have before.
“She plays at a pace that helps our second unit,” Washington said. “She comes in and gives us another presence out there. When the other team’s starters get a little tired, you bring Lindsey in and she’s so aggressive on the offensive end.”
Washington has dubbed Spann the “Energizer Bunny” of the team. Spann appreciates and embraces the nickname.
“I take advantage of the opportunity when I come into the games,” she said. “The other team’s starters definitely have ran up and down the court a few times. So when I come in I’m fresh. I can get steals, deflections, get out in transition and beat people down the court. That’s what I’m embracing and bringing to the team.”
Even with her new role and scoring 1,000 career points, Spann said nothing has changed and she is looking forward to scoring many more points.
Joked Spann: “No, nothing has changed. It was fun when it happened. Maybe scored 1,000 more.”