Michigan Out-Guns Lady Lions, Earns Impressive Road Win
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 11 Michigan proved to be uber-efficient from the field, while Penn State struggled to make its shots, in a commanding 74-57 win for the Wolverines over the Lady Lions.
The loss dropped Penn State to a 7-7 record on the season, while Michigan improved to an impressive 14-2. This also served as Penn State’s first home loss of the year, previously being 5-0.
For the Lady Lions, this was an outing they’ll want to forget. They only made 36.7% of their shots and did not hold the lead for the entirety of the contest. If you take away the production from redshirt freshman Leilani Kapinus, the numbers only get even uglier for Penn State.
Michigan was able to secure such a firm grip on the lead in a large part due to the scoring output from seniors Leigha Brown and Naz Hillman.
Brown scored seven of the Wolverines’ first 12 points, finishing the game with 17. Conversely, Michigan’s leading scorer in Hillman started slow but still rallied back in the second half to finish with 21 points of her own.
Lady Lions’ coach Kieger wasn’t afraid to compliment Hillmon, while also expressing the need for Penn State to rise to the occasion against a player of her stature.
“She doesn’t stop, she pursues the ball relentlessly every single time. She’s out there with a high motor, and if you want to stop a player like that, if you want to beat a player like that, then you’ll have to match or exceed it,” Kieger said.
Another major contribution to Penn State’s loss was the lack of reliable scoring from the backcourt. Senior Niya Beverley was out due to injury, while Penn State’s leading scorer, junior Makenna Marisa, had a rough night from the field, only converting on six of her 19 shot attempts.
Marisa put in plenty of effort to try to get Penn State back into the game, but she could never find her rhythm. Even despite a lackluster performance, Marisa still tried to maintain what has worked all year for her.
“We can’t lose our heads, we’ve got to stay calm, just work with the offense we have. Keep the ball moving, keep looking for the best shots. So, that’s kind of what’s going through my head the whole time, just stay composed,” Marisa said.
This sense of composure is something Marisa and her teammates will need to harness over the remainder of the season, especially after the results of the past two games.
This was the Lady Lions' second consecutive defeat to a ranked opponent, as they also suffered a 106-78 defeat at the hands of the No. 10 Maryland Terrapins on Jan. 6. They also fell to No. 13 Iowa earlier in the season.
Things could improve swiftly for Kieger’s team, however, they do not play another ranked opponent the rest of the season, and still, have plenty of Big Ten games left to regain some momentum.
Yet Kieger’s post-game message stressed the importance of taking things one game at a time. She opted to stress the Lady Lions’ next outing against Illinois as the most important game on her mind at the moment.
“We got one goal: let’s beat Illinois. That’s one mission, we’re not thinking anything beyond that, so that’s our next goal,” Kieger said.
Joe Tuman is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org