Lucas, Taylor and Washington win Big Ten major awards

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Lady Lion senior guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) garnered her second consecutive Big Ten Player of the Year honor to headline the list of three major award winners for the Lady Lions. Fellow senior guard Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.) was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year, while head coach Coquese Washington earned Big Ten Coach of the Year accolades for the third-straight season.

In addition to her Player of the Year award, Lucas was a unanimous selection by both the coaches and media to the All-Big Ten first team. She takes home first team accolades for the third time in her career, making her the sixth player in program history to earn the honor three or more times. Additionally, fellow senior guard/forward Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) was also selected to the 10-member first team for the first time in her career. The Lady Lions have 30 All-Big Ten first team choices, which are the most of any team since joining the conference in 1992-93 and are the second-most all-time. Edwards was also Penn State's Sportsmanship Award honoree.

To go along with her Defensive Player of the Year award, Taylor was named to the All-Big Ten second team by the coaches and media for the first time in her career. She was also a unanimous choice for the Big Ten All-Defensive team, giving her a berth on the team for the second-straight season. Senior forward/center Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) claimed her first career conference honor with an honorable mention bid on both the coaches and media teams.

Lucas was named the 2014 Big Ten Player of the Year by the league's media voters to earn her second-straight Player of the Year Award. This is the fifth time that a Lady Lion has won top honors (Helen Darling, 2000; Kelly Mazzante, 2003-04). Lucas is the seventh player in conference history to win two honors and the second Lady Lion, joining Mazzante. Among the players with multiple honors are Mazzante, Northwestern's Anucha Browne (1984, 1985), Ohio State's Tracey Hall (1986, 1987), Purdue's Katie Douglas (2000, 2001), Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (2005, 2006, 2007) and Ohio State's Jantel Lavendar (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).

The Narberth, Pa. native, who is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy, is closing out one of the best careers in Lady Lion history. She is second in the conference in scoring at a 21.5 rate, which is up by more than a point per game from last year. Lucas also leads the league and the NCAA in free throw percentage with a stellar .959 mark, which is just off of the pace to break the NCAA single-season record. Lucas 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. Additionally, Lucas is among the league leaders in steals (7th - 1.9), three-point percentage (14th - .368) and three-point field goals made (7th - 2.3). Lucas needs one three-pointer to tie Mazzante's Big Ten career three-pointers record and is fourth in conference history in scoring (2,439).

Taylor is the second Lady Lion to win Defensive Player of the Year accolades, along with Tanisha Wright, who won the award three consecutive seasons from 2003-05. Taylor leads the conference in overall steals, averaging 2.9 per game. She was second in league play with 45 thefts in 16 games (2.8 spg). Taylor is also fifth in the Big Ten in assists (4.9) and eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5). Taylor has jumped her production this season as she is averaging 11.6 points, 4.9 assists and 2.9 steals per game this season, which is up from 7.0 points, 3.4 assists and 2.4 steals a year ago. She has also increased her free throw percentage from .623 to .747 as a senior.

Washington was selected as the Coach of the Year by the media for the third-straight season. She joins Ohio State's Jim Foster (2005 (c), 2006, 2007) as the only coaches in league history to win three consecutive coaching honors. Washington was the 2012 Coach of the Year by both the coaches and media and was selected to the top honor again last season by the league's media members. Despite losing three starters, including two WNBA Draft picks, Washington guided the Lady Lions to their third consecutive Big Ten regular-season championship for the first time in school history with a 13-3 record in league play.

Edwards garners her first conference honor as she enjoys the best season of her career. She is averaging a personal-best 14.9 points per game, which is 12th in the Big Ten. She is also 20th in the league in rebounding at a 5.8 per game clip. Edwards is connecting on 83.6% of her shots from the charity stripe, which is eighth among league leaders. She has turned in an impressive jump in production, improving her scoring average by seven points (7.9 to 14.9) and rebounding average by more than two and a half boards a game (3.2 to 5.8) this season.

East is also a first time All-Big Ten honoree after leading the Lions in the post. She paces the team and is tied for ninth in the league with a 7.5 rebounding average to go along with a 7.9 scoring clip. East is also the squad's most efficient shooter with a 52.8% mark from the field, which is fifth in the Big Ten. She has also been a beast in the paint, ranking ninth in the conference with 1.4 shots per game. East has been strong in conference play, upping her numbers to 9.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game with a 55% shooting effort.

The No. 11/11 Penn State Lady Lions earned the top seed in this weekend's Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis for the third consecutive season. The Lady Lions will open play No. 8 seed Ohio State , which defeated No. 9 seed Northwestern on Thursday. Penn State's quarterfinal contest will be played at noon on Friday and will air live on the Big Ten Network.

For the 15th time, Penn State will host the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament First and Second Rounds on March 23 and 25, 2014. All-session tickets are $30 for adults and $17 for youth and students. There is also an all-session group rate for groups of 20 or more of any age at $20 per package. Fans can purchase tickets by calling 1-800-NITTANY or visiting the Penn State athletics ticket office between the hours of 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The Lady Lions are on Twitter. Follow sports information contact Kris Petersen (@ladylionsid) and the Lady Lions and coaches (@pennstatewbb) to get the inside scoop. The Lady Lions are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennstateladylions.   

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Last Updated March 06, 2014