Penn State Women’s Basketball Closes Out Regular Season With Loss to Minnesota
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. –– Penn State celebrated its two seniors, Kelly Jekot and Niya Beverely, before their game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but were unable to capture the victory as the Lady Lions lost 94-83.
Jekot joined the team as a graduate transfer from Villanova in January 2020 and Beverley joined the Lady Lions after transferring from Wisconsin where she played three seasons.
Penn State junior guard Makenna Marisa has stepped into the role of being a leader for the team and credits the seniors for teaching her.
“They taught me so much about leadership, IQ and composure,” Marisa said. “They mean so much to me.”
The Lady Lions started slow as the Gophers ran out to a 15-6 lead in the first quarter. Laura Bagwell-Katalinich started strong with 10 points in the first quarter for Minnesota.
At the end of the first quarter, the Lady Lions found themselves down 22-16 and the momentum started to favor Minnesota.
In the second quarter, neither team shot the bell well as both teams were held under 40% from the field. Marisa began to get going as Penn State looked for a spark.
The Gophers led by 10 at halftime as nine turnovers and 0-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc killed the Lady Lions in the first half.
Coach Carolyn Kieger said the biggest thing was that the Gophers wanted it more. She also touched on her team’s mentality.
“We got to be tough,” Kieger said. “I thought we did a good job of fighting back there.”
Kieger explained that they had talked about it in practice all week and were focused on maintaining this mentality during the game.
The Lady Lions would come out of the half and show their toughness in the second half as they tried desperately to mount a comeback.
Tova Sabel and Marisa would combine for 22 points in the third quarter alone as they began to claw their way back into the game.
Unfortunately, the Lady Lions didn’t have enough in the tank and Minnesota’s duo of Sara Scalia and Kadi Sissoko dominated them inside the paint and beyond the arc.
Both Gophers’ players had 32 points and seemed unstoppable when the ball was in their hands.
“We need to play with heart and be smarter with our defensive positioning,” Marisa said.
Minnesota handled the full court press of Penn State easily throughout the game and were able to convert on some easy looks at the rim.
The Lady Lions were also outrebounded once again as they could not defend the size of the Gophers who were led by Sissoko with 14 rebounds.
The Lady Lions were led by Marisa and Sabel who had 28 points and 19 points, respectively.
Penn State looks forward to the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday where it awaits its next opponent.
Both Marisa and Kieger described the loss as “disappointing” because they couldn’t get it done for the seniors.
Kieger will look to Marisa for leadership as the season comes to a close and they look on to next year.
“We need to mature as a program,” Kieger said.
The Lady Lions end the regular season with an 11-17 record and 5-13 in conference play.
Thomas English is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.