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Lady Lions Fall Short To No. 16 Ohio State 82-69 In Fourth Straight Loss

Penn State women’s basketball (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten) couldn’t keep up with No. 16 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) in its first game of 2021 Monday night at Value City Arena.

Makenna Marisa and Kelly Jekot kept Penn State competitive in the 82-69 loss. Marisa tallied 21 points, nine rebounds, and two assists, while Jekot followed closely with 19 points and six rebounds.

This loss marks the fourth-straight for head coach Carolyn Kieger’s squad, who now starts the new year 0-1.

How It Happened

After missing a pair of free throws on the first offensive possession, senior Johnasia Cash redeemed herself with a crafty spin move and layup to open scoring in the contest at the 9:29 mark. Thirty seconds later, Ohio State responded with a bucket of it’s own.

Over the next several possessions, the two teams traded buckets, but neither one could gain much separation from the other in the scoring column, in what turned out to be an early stretch of sloppy basketball.

The Lady Lions shot just 12.5% from three in the first quarter and went 1-for-7 from the free-throw line as they struggled to find any sort of rhythm offensively.

Defensively, head coach Carolyn Kieger’s squad gave up a whopping 16 points in the paint in the first 10 minutes of play. This paved the way for the Buckeyes to ultimately break away from the Lady Lions and gain a 10-point advantage, despite missing three key players and not having competed in a game of basketball since December 10.

In the second quarter, Ohio State expanded this lead by initiating an impressive offensive attack. The Buckeyes forced six Penn State turnovers and shot 56% from the field compared to Penn State’s 38%. By the 3:04 mark, Ohio State led by a daunting margin of 21.

The Lady Lions continued to fight back and managed to hang around with their Big Ten rivals, thanks to a much-needed spark from Marisa and Jekot. Marisa made some gritty mid-range shots and layups, while Jekot put up 12 points in the second quarter alone — including a bucket as the clock expired — to close the half on a 9-4 run.

Penn State seemed to turn things around in the third quarter, as the shots started to fall. Floor general Marisa had the hot-hand, shooting 5-of-6 from field goal range and helping the Lady Lions chip away at the Buckeye lead. With a little over three minutes remaining in the quarter, Marisa sank a three-ball to cut the deficit to seven, but Ohio State immediately answered with a three-pointer of its own. The Buckeyes maintained a 66-53 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play.

Niya Beverly opened the fourth quarter with a steal and layup to push the pace for the Lady Lions. On the next possession, Tova Sabel dribbled through the Ohio State defense and converted a layup of her own, cutting the deficit to nine.

At the 7:21 mark, sophomore Anna Camden made two clutch free-throws to further cut the deficit to seven, but Ohio State responded by going on an 8-0 run to halt Penn State’s comeback efforts.

The Buckeyes were able to answer every Penn State bucket down the stretch, and ultimately cruise to a 82-69 victory.

Takeaways

  • Johnasia Cash was absolutely brutal from the free-throw line Monday night. The senior went 0-for-6 as far as free-throws go, and accounted for 66% of Penn State’s missed free-throw opportunities. These points would have made a major difference down the stretch, especially considering the fact that the Lady Lions crept to within seven points of the Buckeyes at one point in the fourth quarter. Cash, and the rest of the team, will need to improve drastically in this area if they plan to be on the floor in crucial moments this season.
  • Marisa’s mid-range jumper is special. The sophomore point guard has a special ability to create space with her dribble and sink jumpers from the elbow. She made it look easy against the Buckeyes, shooting 9-of-16 from field-goal range. Ten of Marisa’s 21 points came in the third quarter, which provided a much-needed spark for the Penn State offense.
  • The Lady Lions missed a total of nine layups in this game, and against a ranked opponent like Ohio State, there’s no room for that many mistakes. Just like the missed free-throws, these layups represent missed opportunities that would have significantly changed the outcome of the game. Going forward, if the Lady Lions want to win, they can not afford to miss the easy baskets.

What’s Next

The Lady Lions will return home Thursday, January 7 for a matchup against No. 19 Indiana. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a senior from Binghamton, New York majoring in Spanish and journalism. She's been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley in 2006. So, as you can imagine, she loves absolutely everything Penn State (especially the Cheese Shoppe downtown). She's also a die-hard Yankees, Knicks, and Giants fan (it's brutal), and would do anything for a good old fashioned New York slice. Feel free to email her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.

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