Lady Lions Take Down St. John’s 80-75 To Open Gulf Coast Showcase

Penn State women’s basketball (3-1) beat St. John’s (3-1) 80-75 to open the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, Friday night.

Makenna Marisa and Ali Brigham both put up big numbers with 25 and 19 points, respectively, to lift the Lady Lions to a convincing win.

How It Happened

Head coach Carolyn Kieger rolled out a familiar and strong starting lineup to kick off the tournament.

Niyah Beverley won the tipoff, and it took no time for Marisa to find the net. The Lady Lions started off the first quarter with a 5-0 scoring run, outpacing the Red Storm from the first whistle.

Leilani Kapinus and Shay Hagans combined for a great basket off a steal. Kapinus lit up the court with a fast connection to Hagans on the breakaway.

Several turnovers from St. John’s allowed Penn State to capitalize during the first quarter. Maddie Burke made two steals and set up her teammates for easy baskets. The first quarter ended with the Lady Lions leading 24-20. Marisa put up eight points and Burke trailed closely behind with five points.

The Red Storm took their first lead of the game in the second quarter. Penn State lost its 12-point lead and seemingly took its foot off the gas. St. John’s exploited Kieger’s two-three zone from outside of the arc and forced the Nittany Lions to adjust defensively.

Individually, Brigham did a fantastic job of shutting down the opposition on defense. She blocked a St. John’s shot and elevated the Nittany Lions’ pace of play on the floor.

Marisa and Burke kept the lead within reach following the Red Storm’s second-quarter comeback. Consistent baskets from the two guards kept the Lady Lions trailing only five points. The first half concluded with a score of 34-39 in favor of St. John’s.

Brigham came out of the locker room fired up and scored the first five points for the Lady Lions. She closed the gap to minimize the Red Storm’s lead to one point. St. John’s matched Brigham’s pace and maintained a competitive, close game.

Penn State went on an 11-0 run in the third quarter as Marisa found her shooting groove. St. John’s finally broke the Lady Lions’ scoring run with three minutes left in the quarter with only its third basket of the second half.

Marisa finished the quarter with an impressive 12 points. Penn State led by six points at 57-51.

Both teams knew the stakes of the fourth quarter and the competitive play was there to show it. St. John’s closed the lead and tied the game for the first time since the second quarter.

The Lady Lions and St. John’s both reached double bonus penalties midway through the final quarter. The last minutes of the game were heavily impacted by fouls and free throws on the floor. Brigham and Burke danced the line of fouling out, each with four fouls in the fourth quarter.

The teams traded baskets right up until the end and the leads were small. While it could’ve been either team at the end of the day, the Lady Lions took the prize with an 80-75 win in the books.


  • The Lady Lions were forced to adjust their defensive strategy when St. John’s broke down the two-three zone. Kieger called for man-to-man coverage late in the second quarter which slowed down the Red Storm’s scoring. Kieger’s tactical changes make a big difference in the game and she is not afraid to make the necessary changes in the game.
  • Penn State reverted back to the two-three zone in the second half and shut down St. John’s from outside of the arc. The Lady Lions’ ability to make several defensive changes highlighted their flexibility.

What’s Next?

The Lady Lions will remain in Florida through the weekend and play two more games in the Gulf Coast Showcase. Kieger’s next matchup will be against Iowa State on Saturday, November 27. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a junior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is Onward State's managing editor. She also talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese and Kevin Jonas. If you'd like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @keeleylammm or send your best joke to her email [email protected].

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