Marisa’s Buzzer Beater Leads Lady Lions over Rhode Island 70-69

Story posted December 3, 2020 in CommRadio, Sports by Matthew McLaughlin

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Heart and balance led to a huge win for the Penn State Lady Lions over Rhode Island.

Coming into Thursday’s game against Rhode Island, Penn State was 2-0 after routing Coppin State and Saint Francis with defense and transition points, and that didn’t change in their heart-pounding win over the Rams.

On Thursday night, the Lady Lions defeated the Rhode Island Rams 70-69, thanks to a buzzer-beating layup from sophomore guard Makenna Marisa and solid defense from Penn State.

Rhode Island shot a tick over 50% from the field in this game but shot just 35% from downtown. In addition, the Rams were continually running up and down the floor, as the Lady Lions racked up 14 points in transition and 21 points off turnovers.

This team will not shoot the lights out, but they will beat you with their heart and toughness, as Marisa described Coach Kieger’s attitude in the final seconds of the game.

“She said, ‘Alright, let’s see who’s tough,’ and that’s been her message this entire year,” Marisa said.

However, this game wasn’t without its flaws, as head coach Carolyn Kieger alluded.

“Rhode Island is a great team, and they exposed us in a lot of areas, but that’s great,” Kieger said. “We love to play great teams.”

From the field, the Lady Lions shot 42% and just 30% from 3-point range. Those numbers could prove critical in Penn State’s upcoming game against Syracuse.

Through two games, Syracuse has allowed 39 points in each contest, holding Lincoln to 11.1% from 3-point range, so shooting will be an important factor in Sunday’s game.

Overall, this is a much grittier and tougher team than the 7-23 squad from last year. Graduate transfer Kelly Jekot has shown great leadership throughout the season so far, and that continued Thursday with some key defensive stops and even a couple of saves before delivering the pass to Johnasia Cash that set up the Marisa layup.

Shay Hagans carved up Rhode Island’s perimeter defense and converted a buzzer-beating 3-point play to end the first half, which became a huge momentum swing in favor of Penn State. Meanwhile, Anna Camden launched deep 3-pointers to stretch out perimeter defenses, while the Lady Lions got out to poke away nine steals, successfully setting up the transition offense.

This squad has a mixture of veteran experience and youthful energy, and the upcoming game against Syracuse in the legendary Carrier Dome serves as another litmus test, but Penn State fans should be excited to see what this team does next.


Matthew McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email