Pena capitalizes on extra minutes

Victoria Pena led the Comets with 19 points in the 59-47 win over Howard-Simmons University on Dec. 18. Pena has averaged 14.8 points per game this season, the highest on the team, as the Comets got off to a 10-2 start. Photo by Srikar Baskara | Mercury Staff.

Every season, the women’s basketball program loses senior players and experienced players take on the role of leadership.

Victoria Pena, a sophomore guard and second season veteran on the team, has taken up this role of leadership. Pena joined the team during the 2016-2017 season and had to adapt to the team dynamic.

“I was new to Coach Polly’s system and I needed to figure out how my game was going to fit in with the team and the way my teammates played,” Pena said.

She said she adjusted quickly enough to have one of the highest scoring averages that season, with a personal average of 8.3 points per game. The team won the ASC Tournament during the 2016-2017 season, and made it to the first round of the NCAA Division III National Tournament last season.

This year, Pena had to step up in a leadership role after the loss of several senior team members. Head coach Polly Thomason attributed Pena’s leadership role to her experience with the team and the leadership skills she learned from the past season.

“They taught her well, and she saw an opportunity to step up in terms of being a leader on the court,” Thomason said.

Senior forward Madison Steele said Pena took on the leadership responsibility by learning the strengths and weaknesses of the team and by being able to communicate on and off the court.

“She definitely leads by example,” Steele said. “She has great fundamentals and knows the game of basketball very well. For what she lacks in size, she makes up for in her big play.”

Pena, who is 5’5,” has improved both her personal scoring average by four points, and average time spent out on the court, about 31 minutes per game. She said she is still putting in a lot of time and hard work this season as she focuses on a more assertive playstyle.

“Last year we had lots of amazing players that could get a bucket practically whenever they wanted, so there wasn’t a lot of pressure on me to score,” Pena said. “This year, I’m handling the ball a little more and trying to focus on being more aggressive, so I hope my performance will only improve as the year goes on.”

So far this season, she has improved her scoring average to 15.6 points per game. During the Jan. 2 game against Southwestern University, Pena reached a game high of four assists in the team’s fifth straight victory.

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