When Alex Bentley and Dara Taylor are on the floor together, one might confuse the basketball game for a track meet.
Speed and increasing the pace of the offense is something that has been added to the No. 8 Penn State women’s basketball team since the addition of Taylor this season after transferring from Maryland.
In her first game in a Penn State uniform, Taylor was in good company, playing alongside Big Ten All-First Team point guard, Bentley splitting time between the No. 1 and No. 2 positions.
“I was a little, I wouldn’t say nervous, I was just really excited before the game. It has been awhile since I have gotten to play a game,” Taylor said. “My teammates played great, so it was easy for me to get comfortable throughout the game.”
For the first time in recent years, the Lady Lions have two true point guards, Bentley and Taylor, on their roster in what coach Coquese Washington called a luxury that will drive the speed of play.
In the teams’ 95-39 victory over California (Pa.) on Saturday, Bentley contributed 16 points, four assists and three steals. Coming off the bench, Taylor added seven points, five assists and three steals.
“We we’re pretty fast, [Bentley and Taylor] can get up and down the court and it really pushes tempo,” Washington said. “The ability to have two point guards on the floor, two playmakers, two people who can score, make plays for other people. I think it is a good luxury for us to have.”
Bentley has traditionally been the playmaker with junior guard Maggie Lucas as the back up point guard, but Taylor being added to mix will give Bentley and Lucas more opportunities from the field.
“It allows Alex to sometimes get on the receiving end and be a finisher as opposed to a distributor, and she is pretty good at finishing,” Washington said. “It gives us just a little bit of versatility.”
The Lions experimented with many different lineup combinations on Saturday. But when Bentley and Taylor were on the floor together, they were both transitioning between the point and shooting guard position that allowed for more looks inside to the post players.
Generally, Taylor has been the only point guard on her roster, but the addition of two will perhaps give her more scoring opportunities.
“We play really fast. I have never really gotten the chance to play with a point guard, especially one of her caliber,” Taylor said. “It is great for us to be able to just get up and down the floor and our 1-2 punch is pretty incredible, so it’s nice.”
As a former Penn State point guard, Jess Strom, who coached against the Lions on Saturday, said Penn State has a good thing going with Bentley and Taylor.
“It is always nice [having two point guards]. Honestly I didn’t want to come out, so that was okay by me. It is nice, especially foul trouble, injury, you never know what’s going to happen,” Strom said. “It is nice to have two people that can come in. You never know when one is going to be having a bad day, so two is always better. They can play at the same time and I’m sure she’s going to be doing that too. They are both very good.”
Bentley and Taylor have developed a relationship on the court that will allow for more fast break opportunities that is something they did not have last season. She said that she is excited to have the opportunity to play in the No. 2 position, which will be a first for her in her collegiate career.
“I love playing with Dara. I know when she steps on the court we are about to be playing a lot faster,” Bentley said. “As you saw in the game we had a lot of fast break opportunities with ‘D’ because we get after it on the defensive end and it turns into transition points. Her bringing up the ball is nice, I like playing the two some. It is a good look.”