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Lady Lions Fall To No. 14 Maryland 96-82 In Third Straight Loss

Penn State women’s basketball (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) fell to No. 14 Maryland (6-1, 2-0 Big Ten) 96-82 at home on New Year’s Eve Thursday afternoon.

Maddie Burke led the scoring category for the Lady Lions off the bench with a career-high 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting. The freshman scored 21 of her points from behind the arc, nailing a career-high seven three-pointers in the contest.

Senior Kelly Jekot added another double-double to her season total with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Despite an array of impressive individual efforts, the potent Maryland offensive attack was too strong for Carolyn Kieger’s young squad.

How It Happened

The Lady Lions started slow after an 11-day layoff since their last matchup against Purdue. After an early stretch of sloppy play on both sides of the floor, Makenna Marisa found a slashing Johnasia Cash, who scored the first points of the contest at the 9:06 mark in the first.

Cash then made her presence felt on the defensive end with a fierce swat on Maryland guard Diamond Miller, leading to a newly-substituted Maddie Burke three-pointer. The deep ball sparked a 6-0 run in favor of the Lions, who jumped out to an early 8-2 lead.

The high-flying Terps began to push the pace in transition, contributing to a 8-0 run of their own to take a two-point lead with 3:10 remaining in the quarter. In timely fashion, Burke drilled her second three-pointer of the game to regain a one-point advantage on the next possession.

After trading scores for the last 1:25, Maryland’s Katie Benzan converted a difficult floater on the right block to give the Terrapins a 16-15 lead to end the first.

Maryland’s momentum carried into the next quarter of play, leading to a 10-1 run in the following 2:57. Needing a spark, the Lions turned to Cash in the low-post. The SMU transfer converted an easy lay-in to stop a scoring drought of over four minutes to cut the deficit to four-points.

Although the Lady Lion defense continued to struggle in transition, the squad offset the damage with hot shooting from behind the arc. The combo of Burke and Kelly Jekot each converted from deep in back-to-back sequences, cutting the Maryland lead to three with 5:42 remaining in the half.

Freshman Nyam Thornton entered the game late in the half in explosive fashion, with four points and a pivotal assist on a Niya Beverly three-pointer to end the quarter. Thornton’s key efforts cut the lead to 39-37 in favor of the Terps with 2:38 to play.

Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Ashley Owusu propelled the visiting squad to a 9-2 run in the final minutes of play, extending the Terrapin advantage to 48-39 at the break. The Lady Lions did not have an answer for the smooth-shooting guard, who finished the half with 18-points on 7-for-12 shooting.

Maryland controlled the ball off of the second-half tip, leading to two free-throws from the Terrapins. Guard Chloe Bibby converted on one of the two attempts from the stripe, extending the lead to double-digits for the first time in the contest.

An Anna Camden charge on the defensive end led to a Makenna Marisa made three on the following possession, but Maryland’s pace continued to wear down the young Lady Lion attack. The Terrapins quickly bolted to a 6-0 run after Marisa’s three-pointer cut the lead to seven, forcing Carolyn Kieger to call a time call with 5:54 left in the quarter.

Immediately after the the timeout, Burke converted her fourth made bucket from behind the arc for the Lady Lions, giving the home team an overdue spark. In expected fashion, Maryland stormed back to regain a 13-point lead at the halfway mark in the quarter.

The Lady Lions continued to fight in the face of adversity behind the hot-hand of Maddie Burke. The Doylestown-native added another three-points coupled with a Makenna Marisa layup to force a Maryland timeout with 3:37 left in the third. The Lady Lions continued to force turnovers and convert on fast-break opportunities to end the half, cutting the lead to 69-60.

After jumping out to a game-high 13-point lead to start the final quarter of play, Tova Sabel nailed a deep three-pointer to stop the bleeding for the Lady Lions. The score provided the upset-minded Lions with a final glimmer of hope, leading to a career-high fifth three-pointer for Maddie Burke, which brought the deficit back to nine.

Owusu and company continued to pain the Lady Lions in transition, as the two teams continued to trade baskets throughout the quarter. In a common theme, Burke continued to find success from deep, adding two additional three-pointers to her game high 24-point total.

Although the freshman continued to add to her career-high total, the Lions began to weather as a team. The Maryland backcourt pushed the pace and scored often in transition to end the game on a 9-2 run, finishing in a 96-82 victory for the visitors.

Takeaways

  • Averaging 97.5 points per game, Maryland’s offense entered the matchup as the highest scoring attack in the nation. The Terrapin attack remained consistent against the Lady Lions, finishing with 96 points as a team. The Lady Lion defense did not play as badly as the score indicates, considering the array of weapons at coach Brenda Frese’s dispense.
  • With only 22 points all season prior to today’s contest, freshman guard Maddie Burke exploded with a 24 point output on 50% shooting from beyond the arc. Her seven three-pointers result in a record for any Carolyn Kieger led player.
  • In order to remain competitive in Big Ten play, Penn State must keep Johnasia Cash out of foul trouble. Against Maryland, Cash picked up her fourth foul with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter, leaving the Lions without a viable weapon down low for large spurts of the second half.
  • The Lady Lions have not won a Big Ten game since January 9, 2020 (357 days). Kieger’s team is well-overdue for a victory, and will head into 2021 with a collective hunger for a win.

What’s Next

The Lady Lions will kick off the new year against No. 17 Ohio State on Monday, January 4 in Columbus. Tipoff at Value City Arena is set for 6 p.m., and will air live on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a freshman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania majoring in journalism. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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