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Lady Lions Outmatched By Michigan State In 78-65 Defeat

Penn State women’s basketball (8-9, 5-8 Big Ten) couldn’t keep up with Michigan State (11-5, 6-5 Big Ten) in the annual Play4Kay game Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.

It was a tale of turnovers and scoreless stretches of basketball for Penn State, as the team couldn’t find any sort of offensive rhythm and went at least four minutes without scoring to open the first and second quarters.

Despite the struggles, Johnasia Cash tallied 16 points and 12 rebounds. Anna Camden, Niya Beverly, and Makenna Marisa added 14 points a piece.

How It Happened

The Lady Lions fell behind early, as the Spartans buried two three-pointers to jump out to a 6-0 lead. Meanwhile, head coach Carolyn Kieger’s squad couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end, as it committed four turnovers and went nearly four minutes and 40 seconds without scoring a basket to open the contest.

Cash finally put the Lady Lions on the board with a layup at the 5:22 mark, but the Spartans proceeded to hit two consecutive baskets to expand the lead to 11-2 a little over a minute later.

Beverly joined Cash as the only other Nittany Lion to score in the quarter at the 2:17 mark, making a layup and cutting the Spartan lead to 13-6.

Beverly added a three-pointer with a minute remaining, but the Spartans immediately answered back by converting a three-point play of their own and closing out the quarter up 22-11.

Things fell a part again in the second quarter, as the Lady Lions were plagued by another stretch of scoreless basketball that lasted five and a half minutes. Meanwhile, the Spartans went on a 13-0 run and took complete control of the ballgame with an assertive 35-11 lead.

Camden ended this run by converting a layup with four and half minutes remaining in the half, and later added another basket and three-pointer on back-to-back possessions to help ignite somewhat of a spark under the Penn State offense.

Kieger’s team managed to turn defense into offense and score on transition plays late in the quarter to save themselves some embarrassment in what turned out to be a lopsided contest. The Spartans maintained a 48-26 lead heading into the locker rooms at halftime.

A Shay Hagans steal turned into a fastbreak-layup for Beverly to open the third quarter on a good note for Penn State. The Lady Lions even managed to go on a 7-0 run in this quarter, until former Penn State star Alisia Smith answered with a basket in what turned out to be an impressive quarter for the transfer. Despite the improved offense from Penn State, the Spartans never once lost control of the game or even appeared to be taking their foot off the gas pedal.

In the fourth, Penn State crept back to within thirteen points of the Spartans, thanks to a 10-0 scoring run that included more than four minutes of scoreless basketball for the opposing team. However, Michigan State proceeded to go on a 7-2 run of its own, expanding the lead back to 18 points with under two minutes to go in the contest.

Penn State’s offense caught on fire a little too late, and the Spartans were able to successfully close out the game with a 78-65 victory.

Takeaways

  • Penn State tallied just one bench point in the entire first half. In comparison, Michigan State’s bench put up 25 points — the same number as all of Penn State’s starters combined. The Lady Lions clearly have a lot to improve when it comes to offensive production. If they want to win, they need to score the basketball. They can’t keep going four or five minutes without scoring in a quarter and expect to hang in there with opposing teams. Additionally, everyone is going to need to get involved — bench players and starters alike.
  • Where was former Big Ten player Johnasia Cash against the Spartans? Cash may have led the Nittany Lions in scoring Saturday afternoon, but a lot of her points came during garbage time when winning the game was already out of the question. Meanwhile, she started the contest shooting 3-for-10 from field-goal range, missing several layups. This set the tone for the rest of the offense, which clearly struggled to find any sort of rhythm in the first half of play. Cash needs to remain more consistent in all quarters if she’s going to help this team win.
  • Maddie Burke put up two points for the Lady Lions in the loss — on just three shot attempts. She’s been an important spark for the team in previous games, but it was clear that her presence wasn’t felt on the floor at all on Saturday. When the freshman isn’t involved, the Lady Lions don’t seem to play with as much continuity or success. Kieger will want to consider getting the ball in Burke’s hands more going forward.

What’s Next

The Lady Lions will travel to Iowa City Thursday, February 18 for a matchup against the Hawkeyes. Tipoff time will be announced at a later date.

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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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