WBB: Banks, Agee star on Senior Night to Push Lady Lions Past Iowa
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s 2016 senior class is not a large group by any stretch. It’s compiled of just two individuals, both of whom that have pushed through to the finish line of their collegiate careers to become as productive as they can be on the basketball court.
Before the season started, however, the two had never played a game together. That fact was hard to tell on Wednesday as Brianna Banks and Candice Agee combined for 38 points on Senior Night and guided the Lady Lions to a 81-68 win over conference foe Iowa.
“They both played the way you hope seniors play in their final game,” head coach Coquese Washington said. “The emotion of a senior’s last game, it can go one of two ways: They can have that energy that can propel them to having a fantastic game like these guys did or sometimes the emotions can overwhelm you and you’re not on your game.”
“So I was really happy to see that Candice and Bri played really good games and the team kind of rallied around those two and played off of them.”
Protecting their lead from a late Hawkeyes push, the senior duo both sought each other out on the court to extend the margin. Agee faced a collapsed defense in the paint with 3:10 remaining, but swiftly whipped a pass to Banks, who stretched the lead to 73-62. The sequence was sandwiched in a stretch of 12 straight Penn State points from either senior.
The two players entered their postgame press conference recalling that particular pass to each other. “We was vybing the whole game,” Banks, a UCONN-transfer, said joyfully, “that was just another pass, another point to make this night even better.”
As Agee checked out of the game in the closing two minutes, she did so to a standing ovation after nailing two free throws, and deservingly so. The two shots, her final points of the game, gave her 21 points, matching her career-best over her four-year stay under Washington. The 6-foot-6 center grabbed seven boards plus three steals.
The biggest thief of them all was Banks, who snatched a game-high five steals, as she played the passing lanes and helped disrupt the Hawkeyes offense, which committed 22 turnovers. The Lady Lions were able to convert those addition opportunities into baskets, scoring 24 points off those turnovers.
“Good offense starts with good defense,” said Washington. “When we’re active and aggressive on the defensive end and we can get going in transition. ... That always helps when you can get layups in transition or you can get spot-3s in for your shooters in transition.”
A beneficiary of the quickened pace was sophomore Lindsey Spann, who showcased her maturation in terms of picking her spots on the floor, Washington said. The second-year guard totaled 18 points on 5 of 8 shooting, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range.
“Last year she was a little bit of a volume shooter and scorer for us, and this year she’s become a lot more efficient,” Washington added. “Her and [assistant] coach Jocelyn Wyatt spend a lot of time watching film, taking shots and helping her understand what are really good shots … and making sure you’re not taking too many bad shots.”
“She’s a really capable shooter but her mind is catching up to her skills, and that’s been nice to see.”
Banks came out aggressive from the tip off, seemingly getting to the rim at will, and her midrange pull up was falling early en route to nine points in the opening four minutes of the game to put Penn State ahead 14-5. Closing the second period on a 9-0 run, the Lady Lions led by 18 at the half.
The Lady Lions will conclude the regular season with a daunting trip to Bloomington, Indiana to face the Hoosiers as they look to take some momentum into the Big Ten tournament, which begins March 2.
Marley Paul is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @MarleyPaul22.