Penn State Basketball

Penn State women’s basketball: Assistant coach Walseth leaving to become head coach at North Dakota State

Penn State women’s assistant basketball coach Maren Walseth is leaving the program and her alma mater to accept the head coaching position at North Dakota State, it was announced Monday.

Walseth had been on Penn State coach Coquese Washington’s staff since Washington took over the Lady Lions seven years ago. Walseth coached post players for Washington. As a center/forward from 1998-2001, Walseth was part of the school’s only Final Four team in 2000. She is 16th on the Lady Lions’ career scoring list with 1,328 points and 19th in rebounding (645). She earned All-Big Ten first team accolades in 2000 and 2001.

Walseth, a Minnesota native whose sister Annika played a season at North Dakota State, will be announced formally at a news conference in Fargo on Thursday. She replaces Carolyn DeHoff, who resigned after a 6-24 season. DeHoff had a 72-105 record in six seasons with the Bison.

“I want to thank Coquese Washington, Dr. (David) Joyner and the administration at Penn State for preparing me for this day,” Walseth said in a university release. “Penn State has been my home for 12 years and making the decision to leave was not an easy one. I have grown tremendously in my time as a student-athlete and as an assistant coach here in Happy Valley. I will always be very Penn State Proud.”

Walseth becomes the second member of Washington’s original staff to receive a Division I head-coaching position. Itoro Coleman left Penn State after the 2010 season to take over her alma mater Clemson. Coleman was fired there after the 2013 season.

Walseth, who arrived at Penn State following a three-year stint as an assistant coach at Navy, helped develop three All-Big Ten post players. Nikki Greene, a third-round WNBA draft pick who plays professionally in Korea, is the only player in school history to reach 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 200 blocks. Forward Mia Nickson, who graduated in 2013, and senior Talia East also earned conference accolades.

“North Dakota State is getting a gem in Maren Walseth,” Washington said. “She is an outstanding coach who will work tirelessly to build NDSU into a Summit League power. She is a winner, both as a player and coach, and she will bring that winning spirit and ethic to North Dakota State women’s basketball.”

Walseth, a third-round pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft, spent four years in the professional ranks. Walseth played the 2002 WNBA season with the Washington Mystics, before heading overseas to play with Cavigal of the French Basketball Federation in 2002-03. She also played with SCAB 63 of the French Basketball Federation and a season with the Colorado Chill of the National Women’s Basketball League.

In Walseth’s final four seasons on Washington’s staff, the Lady Lions made four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2012 and 2014. Penn State is a three-time reigning Big Ten regular-season champion.

She becomes the 10th head coach at North Dakota State, a former Division II power that has fallen on hard times in the Summit League. The Bison have suffered through four consecutive losing seasons, going 40-79 in that span.

“The commitment to winning on and off the court is well-established at NDSU and is something that I am looking forward to being a part of. I am ready to get to work and start the climb to the top,” Walseth said.

“I am very pleased to welcome Maren Walseth as the new head women’s basketball coach to lead our program,” North Dakota State athletic director Lynn Dorn said. “Maren’s basketball experiences as a Final Four participant, a WNBA professional, and as a seven-year assistant coach at a top-25 NCAA Division I institution highlight her credentials. She has been associated with success throughout her playing and coaching career.”

Follow Walt Moody on Twitter @wmoodycdt