Lady Lions Fall to Minnesota, Drop 7 of their Last 8 Games

Story posted January 25, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Matthew McLaughlin

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- It was a battle of wills on Monday night, but the Minnesota Gophers got the win as they dropped the Lady Lions 85-76 in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Once again, the Lady Lions lacked that scoring punch that Kelly Jekot provided, but that wasn’t the whole story.

Through the first three quarters, the Lady Lions were excellent on defense but just could not capitalize when it mattered most. By the end of the first quarter, the Gophers sunk 50 percent of their 3-point attempts and shot 50 percent from the field overall.

How did the Lady Lions respond? They held the Gophers to no 3-point makes and forced the Gophers to earn their points at the charity stripe, which paid off in the second frame (Minnesota was only converting 25-percent of its attempts in that time span).

In the third, the Lady Lions put on a defensive performance reminiscent of the 2004 Detroit Pistons. Penn State capitalized on six forced turnovers for 13 points and smothered Minnesota, only allowing 12.5 percent from downtown and 25 percent overall, and Coach Kieger recognized that effort, “I thought we had one of our best third quarters ever followed by one of our worst fourth quarters ever.”

The final frame is when everything changed. Minnesota recovered and doubled Penn State’s scoring, 32-16, and hit 13 of its 14 free throws. However, there were some bright spots for this squad.

Guard Makenna Marissa poured in 25 points, four dimes, and a block. Forward Johnasia Cash matched her effort, dropping 22 points, snatching 15 boards, and helping out on the defensive end with a block and a steal.

Furthermore, guard Maddie Burke contributed with two critical triples late in the third quarter, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.

The loss of leading scorer Kelly Jekot has hurt this team beyond the stat sheet. Jekot’s leadership on the court and ability to slow the tempo down in high pressure moments were crucial factors to this team’s early season success.

Now, this team lacks that bonafide leader.

Cash has played fantastic basketball in the paint, but she’s struggled with foul trouble throughout the season. Burke can splash from downtown but tends to be streaky.

Marisa is a fantastic facilitator and can carve up defenses, but she struggles with finishing through contact. Hagans has been a fantastic energizer bunny and sparks the offense with her defensive activity, but her size limits her playing time depending on the opponent.

Overall, Coach Kieger has a great collection of young talent, but Jekot’s season-ending injury has put this team from potential Big Ten contender to bubble team at best at the moment.

 

Matthew McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mem6936@psu.edu.