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Kamaria McDaniel Shines Despite Lady Lions’ Struggles

Penn State women’s basketball is in the middle of what most would call a rebuilding year, with a young team and new head coach at the helm. So far, the team has an underwhelming 7-12 record — 1-7 in conference play, — and a loss to Indiana on Thursday extended its losing streak to four games. But despite the team’s struggles, junior Kamaria McDaniel has stepped up as a leader and shined on the court.

The 5′ 10″ guard from Inkster, Michigan carried the Penn State offense against Indiana, dropping a game-high 24 points. This is starting to become the norm for McDaniel, who now has eight 20-plus point games, and has reached double digits in 18 of Penn State’s 19 games this season. She is also shooting an incredibly impressive 74% from the stripe on 127 attempts and has emerged as one of the most reliable and consistent offensive weapons for Carolyn Kieger.

This year in particular has been a big step forward for McDaniel, who started only five games last season and averaged under 10 points per game. This year, she’s started in all but one of the Nittany Lions’ games while averaging a team-high 19.3 points per contest — which also happens to be the second highest in the Big Ten.

The shining moment this season for McDaniel came early December against Pitt, after which she earned the nod as Big Ten player of the week. She tallied a career-high 40 points in this game to lead Penn State to an impressive 78-73 victory, becoming the third Lady Lion to do so in program history and the first since Kelly Mazzante in 2001.

“I don’t think there is a team in the country that can stop her when she plays at that pace with the ball in her hands,” said head coach Carolyn Kieger after the Pittsburgh game. “Can’t say enough about Kamaria in the way that she is learning and adjusting and really latching on to teaching and the way that she has been growing.”

Her impact this season has been felt in more than just the shooting category, as she leads the team in both assists and blocks as well. McDaniel’s speed and hustle make her stand out, not to mention her hard-nose style of play. Although the season hasn’t exactly gone according to Kieger’s plans, McDaniel’s development may be the silver lining in all of this. Her raw skill, potential, and court presence are hard to ignore and will be of great benefit to the team next year, as she prepares for her final season in blue and white.

Even though McDaniel has been the heavyweight scorer for Penn State this season, that doesn’t mean the younger players haven’t been stepping up. Freshman court general Makenna Marisa has been a huge asset for the team, averaging 9.8 points and 32.9 minutes each game. Marisa is also shooting 83% from the free throw line and gets the second most playing time on the team. Fellow freshman Anna Camden has also made a name for herself, emerging as a sharp-shooter from three-point range and complimenting McDaniel’s aggressive style of play quite nicely.

Looking ahead, Penn State will travel to West Lafayette to take on Purdue on Sunday, January 26. The Nittany Lions will hope to snap a four game losing streak when the game tips-off at 2 p.m.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a Sophmore business major from Bucks County, which is juuuust outside of Philly. He's a huge Philly sports fan, back to back to back failed entrepreneur, and he appeared on the Rachel Ray Show at the age of 5. If you want to gain absolutely nothing, you can follow him on twitter @rjparsons9. Any "serious" inquiries or death threats can be sent to [email protected]

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