Penn State Basketball

Penn State women’s basketball: Lucas named Big Ten Player of Year; Washington named Coach of Year

Penn State's Maggie Lucas and coach Coquese Washington were named the Big Ten’s Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, respectively on Monday.
Penn State's Maggie Lucas and coach Coquese Washington were named the Big Ten’s Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, respectively on Monday. CDT photo

Penn State’s Maggie Lucas, Dara Taylor, Ariel Edwards and coach Coquese Washington each earned major Big Ten honors as the women’s basketball awards as voted by the conference coaches and media were announced Monday.

Lucas became just the seventh player in conference history to win multiple Player of the Year honors as she earned the nod on the media ballot. She was joined by Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper, the coaches’ Player of the Year, and Minnesota’s Rachel Banham as the only players to earn unanimous first team selections on both ballots.

Lucas joins two-time winner Kelly Mazzante (2003, 2004) and Helen Darling (2000) as the only Lady Lions to win the honor.

Lucas was second in the league with a 21.5 scoring average and leads the nation by making 95.9 percent of her free throws. She is the only player ever in NCAA Division I (men's or women's), WNBA or NBA history to average 20 or more points with a free throw percentage of 95.5% or better. She is also seventh in steals (1.9) in the league.

The senior enters the postseason ranked fourth in Big Ten history in career scoring with 2,439 points and needs two 3-pointers to break Kelly Mazzante’s school and conference record of 357.

Taylor, the conference’s steals leader at 2.9 per game, was the only unanimous selection to the coaches All-Defensive team. She becomes just the second Lady Lion to earn the top defensive honor, joining two-time winner Tanisha Wright (2004, 2005).

Taylor, who is averaging 11.6 points and is fifth in assists with 4.9 per game, was named to the 10-player second team on both the coaches and media ballots.

Edwards, who became a full-time starter in her senior season, earned first team honors on both the coaches and the media ballots. The 6-foot-3 guard/forward nearly doubled her scoring average from last season (7.9) by averaging 14.9 points per game, which was good for 12th in the league. She also averaged 5.8 rebounds (20th) and shot 83.6 percent from the foul line (8th).

Edwards also was Penn State’s recipient of the league’s sportsmanship honor.

Washington captured her third consecutive Coach of the Year honor, taking the accolade on the media ballot. She made history by joining former Ohio State leader Jim Foster as the only coaches in league history to win the honor three consecutive times.

Washington took a squad that lost three starters and had seven incoming freshmen to a 22-6 record and its third consecutive regular-season title. The No. 11 Lady Lions (13-3) shared the regular-season crown with Michigan State and earned the top seed for the Big Ten Tournament, which begins Thursday in Indianapolis.

Washington has led the team to four consecutive 20-win seasons and has a 97-28 mark over the last four seasons.

Center Talia East received her first postseason honor by earning an honorable mention selection on both the coaches and media teams. East had career highs by averaging 7.9 points and 7.5 rebounds and was the Lady Lions’ best shooter at 52.8 percent from the field.

Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B. was named the Freshman of the Year on both ballots.

Iowa’s Samantha Logic, Michigan State Aerial Powers, Ohio State’s Ameryst Alston, Purdue’s Courtney Moses and Nebraska’s Rachel Theriot were named to the first team on both ballots.

Nebraska’s Connie Yori was the Coach of the Year on the coaches’ ballot. Purdue’s Whitney Bays was named the Sixth Player of the Year by the coaches.