Lucas named Big Ten Player of the Year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Junior guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) capped an outstanding season by earning 2013 Big Ten Player of the Year honors 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 (Indianapolis, Ind.) 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 (Diboll, Texas) was named third team All-Big Ten by the coaches and honorable mention by the media. Finally, Bentley and fellow guard Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) garnered Big Ten All-Defensive team accolades. Senior Gizelle Studevent (La Jolla, Calif.) was the Penn State representative on the Sportsmanship Award list.

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 5 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' most impressive performance of the season earned her USBWA National Player of the Week honors as she shot 11-for-21 from the field and 7-for-13 from three-point range en route to a career-high 39 points in the win over Georgetown on Dec. 9. The 39 tallies broke the Bryce Jordan Center record for points in a game (men or women).

The Narberth, Pa., native 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 Big Ten Coach of the Year 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.

The Lady Lions have been ranked in the Top 10 all season nationally, peaking at  No. 6 in the Associated Press Poll in November and have been among the national leaders in scoring offense and three-point field goal percentage all year. Penn State is riding a 20-game home court winning streak, which is the third-longest active streak in NCAA Division I. The Lady Lions posted a perfect 14-0 record at home to earn the 10th unbeaten home slate in school history. Penn State paced the Big Ten in scoring during conference play, accounting for 74.4 points per game, nearly six markers better than the second-ranked team. In addition, the Lions led the league in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage to become the first team in conference history to lead the Big Ten in all three categories in a single season.

Bentley garners first team accolades for the third time in her career, making her the fifth player in program history to earn the honor three or more times. She joins Tina Nicholson (1994, 1995, 1996), Angie Potthoff (1995, 1996, 1997), Kelly Mazzante (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004) and Tanisha Wright (2003, 2004, 2005) as the only players to garner first team honors three or more times in their career. She also takes home All-Defensive team accolades for the second year in a row.

The Indianapolis native has been the floor general for the Lady Lions her entire career, extending the string of four-year starting point guards at Penn State. Bentley leads the Big Ten and is in the Top 5 nationally in steals with a 3.7 per game average. She is also just the fourth player in school history to notch 100 steals in a season, joining Suzie McConnell (four times), Corinne Gulas (twice) and Helen Darling (once) as the only other players to accomplish the feat. Additionally, she is in the top 15 in the Big Ten in scoring (11th - 14.0), assists (9th - 3.6), free throw percentage (9th - .813) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3rd - 1.8).

Bentley will also leave her name etched into the Penn State record books in several categories. She ranks second all-time in steals (319), eighth in points (1,726), eighth in assists (556) and ninth in games played (127). Bentley is just the fourth player in school history and the 15th player in Big Ten history to nab 300 steals. She holds elite company, becoming just the fourth player in Big Ten history and second player in Lady Lion history to accumulate 1,500 points, 500 assists and 300 steals. Bentley joins the Big Ten list that includes: Yvette Angel, Ohio State (1982-85; 1,563-562-326), Tamara Moore, Wisconsin (1999-02; 1,662-554-353) and Katie Douglas, Purdue (1998-01; 1,965-526-327). Additionally, Bentley joins Suzie McConnell (1985-88; 1,897-1,307-507) as the only Lady Lions to accomplish the feat.

"Alex has been an impact player from the moment she set foot on this campus and it's wonderful to see her being honored as a senior," Washington said. "She is a just tremendous competitor and is going to leave a strong legacy of success for other Lady Lions to follow."

Greene, who caps off a terrific career by earning her third all-conference accolade, is the only player in school history to record 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 200 blocks. Greene became the 35th 1,000-point scorer in school history with her nine-point performance at Minnesota on Jan. 24. The senior center is fifth in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.5), 11th in field goal percentage (.467) and ninth in blocks (1.2). She currently ranks second in Lady Lion history with 210 career blocks and fourth in rebounding with 961 caroms. The Diboll, Texas, native earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the week ending Jan. 22 for a double-double performance of 23 points and 14 rebounds to go along with two blocks in the Jan. 17 victory over Wisconsin. She needs 39 rebounds to become just the fourth player in Penn State history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

"Nikki has had a quietly impressive career here at Penn State," Washington said. "She has had a strong season for us and has been a big impact in games, especially in the second half. She is, quite simply, an imposing force on both ends of the floor. "

Taylor has been a defensive force for the Lady Lions this year, notching 72 steals in her first 28 games of action (2.6). The transfer from Maryland made an impact right away, recording five thefts in Penn State's win at No. 16/13 Texas A&M on Nov. 14. Taylor registered a career-high seven steals to push her over the 100-steal mark for her career in Penn State's Big Ten opener versus Northwestern on Jan. 3. Taylor finishes the regular season ranked fourth in the Big Ten in steals per game. She has seven games with four or more steals this season.

"Dara came in this year and found a way to be an impact player for us right away - on the defensive end of the floor," Washington said. "Her speed, quickness, and fast hands helped us improve tremendously on defense. She brought an enthusiastic effort to playing defense and that rubbed off on the rest of her teammates."

The Lady Lions will travel to Hoffman Estates for the 2013 Big Ten Tournament. Penn State will serve as the top seed in the tourney for the seconds-straight season and will face the winner of No. 8 Minnesota vs. No. 9 Ohio State at 7 p.m. (ET) on March 8 in the quarterfinals. The semifinal is March 9 and championship game is March 10. The Lady Lions are 24-16 all-time in the BTT, claiming titles in the first two tourneys (1995, 1996).

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Last Updated March 05, 2013