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Lady Lions Drop Fifth Straight In 85-64 Defeat To No. 19 Indiana

Penn State women’s basketball (3-5, 0-4 Big Ten) fell to No. 19 Indiana (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten) 85-64 Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Despite starting the game on the bench for the first time all season, star center Johnasia Cash tallied a season-high 19-point output for the Lady Lions. Freshman guard Tova Sabel added an additional 15 bench-points in efficient fashion, but it wasn’t enough to counter a 50.7% shooting night from the red-hot Hoosiers.

How It Happened

The Hoosiers began the game scorching hot after controlling possession from the tipoff, starting 3-for-4 from the field to jump out to an early 7-2 lead. Needing an offensive spark, Penn State turned to star center Johnasia Cash, who began the contest on the bench for the first time this season.

Cash immediately made her presence felt on both ends of the floor, leading a 12-6 run in favor of the Lady Lions to take a 14-13 lead. Freshman Tova Sabel added to the bench production with eight points in the quarter to extend the advantage. Turnovers plagued Penn State’s fast-paced offensive attack late in the quarter, contributing to a late run from the Hoosiers to regain a 19-16 lead.

The combination of Sabel and Cash off the bench combined for 14 of Penn State’s 17 first quarter points, as the Lady Lions entered the second quarter of play holding a three-point deficit.

Veteran Kelly Jekot began the second quarter of play with a delicate layup in the lane to cut the Hoosier lead to one. The Lady Lions found success in a cagy 2-3 zone defense, holding the Indiana to 0-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc through the first five minutes in the second quarter.

After a media timeout midway through the quarter, Indiana immediately found offensive success by finding the middle of the zone, extending the lead to six. The teams traded buckets until the two-minute mark in the half, when Jekot electrified the Lady Lion bench with an ankle-breaking crossover leading to a mid-range jumper on the left elbow to cut the lead to a single possession.

With six seconds remaining in the half, Niya Beverly hurled a baseball pass in the direction of speedy guard Shay Hagans, who converted a layup in traffic at the buzzer to enter the locker room down 33-30, putting the Lady Lions in striking distance for an second half comeback.

The Hoosiers stuck early and often to open the half, jumping out to an eight point lead on efficient three point shooting. To stop the bleeding, Cash continued her season long pattern of second-half dominance with a fierce rebound and put-back to cut the lead back to two scores.

On the defense end of the floor, the veteran centered picked up her third foul the next possession. The Hoosiers took advantage of Penn State’s small-ball lineup without an underneath presence by extending the lead to ten points, the first double-digit lead of the night.

After giving up another three-pointer to Indiana in the zone defense, Kelly Jekot responded with a deep three of her own, extending her streak to eight games in a row with a three-pointer made. With each made basket for the Lady Lions, the Hoosiers responded with a counter-punch of their own to maintain a comfortable lead.

Immediately following a media timeout at the 3:20 mark in the quarter, Sabel converted the Lions’ fourth three-pointer of the game to keep the home team competitive. Continued hot-shooting from the Hoosiers prompted Kieger to switch the defense back to man-to-man. In a high scoring quarter, Indiana’s impressive spree of mid-range shooting catapulted the Hoosiers to a 60-50 lead entering the final period of play.

Makena Marisa began the fourth quarter with a one-legged fadeaway in the paint to kindle a 4-0 Lady Lion run. The momentum only lasted for one possession, as the energy was yielded by Indiana’s continued offensive success.

Following a gut-check timeout called by Carolyn Kieger, Cash powered her way into the lane to score a much-needed basket for the home team. Despite the success on the offensive end, Penn State struggled to the Hoosiers, who jumped out to their largest lead of the game of 15-points at the five minute mark in the fourth.

Penn State’s young roster once again went cold late in the fourth, leading to another collapse down the stretch for Kieger and company. Despite a continued display of heart from the Lady Lions, Indiana continued to build on superstar Grace Berger’s triple-double output from the Hoosiers. The ranked Hoosiers finished the contest shooting over 50% from the field, leading to a 85-64 victory for the visitors.

Takeaways

  • With five different starting lineups in eight games, Carolyn Kieger isn’t afraid to mix it up. Her implementation of small-ball allows Penn State to push the pace and insert bench players without drop-off as fatigue sets in.
  • Indiana dominated Penn State in terms of taking care of the basketball, with only two turnovers in comparison to 13 committed by the Lady Lions. Additionally, the Hoosiers compiled 22 assists on 34 made field goals in a masterful performance from the visiting backcourt.
  • Despite early success in a 2-3 zone defensive set, Penn State was unable to counter Indiana’s second half shooting success. The Hoosiers finished the game with a field goal percentage over 50%, in comparison to an underwhelming 38.3% shooting night from the Lions.
  • Although the final score indicates a rout, Penn State competed with a veteran-heavy Indiana squad for over three quarters of the contest. With the ninth-youngest team in the nation, the Lady Lions will be able to use recent defeats was learning experiences in upcoming matchups.

What’s Next

The Lady Lions will travel west to face Minnesota on Sunday, January 10 in Minneapolis. Tip-off from Williams Arena is set for 5 p.m.

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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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