Two big honors for Lady Lions hoops

UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn?State junior guard Maggie Lucas was named the 2013 Big Ten Player of the Year from both the coaches and media, while Lady Lion head coach Coquese Washington claimed her second-straight Big Ten Coach of the Year award from the media.

Additionally, senior guard Alex Bentley took home her third career All-Big Ten first-team honor. The Lady Lions have 28 All-Big Ten first-team selections, the most of any team in the Big Ten since joining the conference in 1992-93.

In addition, senior center Nikki Greene was named third team All-Big Ten by the coaches and honorable mention by the media. Finally, Bentley and fellow guard Dara Taylor garnered Big Ten All-Defensive team accolades. Senior Gizelle Studevent was the Penn State representative on the Sportsmanship Awardlist.

Lucas, who was a unanimous first-team selection by the coaches, is the third player in program history to take home Big Ten Player of the Year accolades, joining Helen Darling (2000) and Kelly Mazzante (2003, 2004). She is also the first junior to win the award since Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender in 2010. Lucas appears on the All-Big Ten first team for the second consecutive season, becoming the 10th player in Lady Lion history to claim multiple first team honors.

An All-America candidate that appears on all four major National Player of the Year watch lists, Lucas is third in the Big Ten in scoring (20.5), 15th in field goal percentage (.452), third in free-throw percentage (.898), seventh in steals (2.3) and second in three-point field goals made (3.1).

Additionally, Lucas leads the Big Ten and is in the Top five nationally in three-point field goal percentage with a .470 mark.

The three-time Big Ten Player of the Week is the third-fastest player in school history to get 1,500 points behind Mazzante and Susan Robinson.

Lucas is seventh in program history with 1,769 points and is on pace to become the fifth member of Penn State’s 2,000-point club. Lucas also ranks second in Penn State history and third in Big Ten history with 280 career three-pointers made. Her .886 career free throw percentage also tops the Lady Lion charts and her .433 shooting effort from long range ranks second in Penn State history.

“What a wonderful and deserving honor for Maggie,” Washington said. “She has been a consistent player all season long. She continues to work to improve her game and clearly that work has paid dividends.”

Washington is the media’s Coach of the Year winner for the second-straight season, making her the first Penn State mentor to win back-to-back honors since Rene Portland in 2003 and 2004.

It is the fifth time in Big Ten history that a coach has won consecutive top honors. Under Washington, the Lady Lions have won back-to-back Big Ten regular season titles for the first time since 2002-03 and 2003-04.Penn State’s 14-2 conference record this season is the program’s best since the 2004 squad went 15-1.

The Lady Lions have increased their Big Ten win total in each of Washington’s six seasons in Happy Valley. Penn State won four games in Washington’s first year and improved to six wins in 2008-09. In Washington’s third year, PSU had eight wins before collecting 11 victories in 2010-11 and 13 wins a year ago. This season, the Lady Lions collected 14 conference wins, the most since the 2003-04 team went 15-1.