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Lady Lions Outlast Rutgers 52-48 For First Big Ten Win Of Season

Penn State women’s basketball (5-5, 1-1 Big Ten) snuck past Rutgers (4-7, 0-2 Big Ten) 52-48 in a classic Big Ten battle at the BJC Thursday night.

After opening conference play with a brutal 70-40 loss to Indiana earlier this week, Carolyn Kieger’s team managed to battle back to .500 with the hard-fought win over the Scarlet Knights. Makenna Marisa paced the group yet again with 16 points, while Ali Brigham added 13 of her own. Penn State also benefitted from 22 turnovers for Rutgers on the night.

How It Happened

Rutgers secured the opening tip, but the Nittany Lions opened the scoring on a pretty jumper from Kelly Jekot. A defensive battle ensued over the next few minutes, however, as Carolyn Kieger’s group went 3-for-10 from the field while the Scarlet Knights shot 3-for-9. A couple of buckets inside for Ali Brigham kept Penn State afloat and the game was tied 6-6 with about four minutes left in the first half.

After the break, both sides continued to trade buckets. Brigham paced Kieger’s group with eight points in the first frame, while Rutgers saw a team-wide offensive effort. The Nittany Lions held a 16-13 lead after the first.

Makenna Marisa and Shay Hagans both scored early in the second, but Rutgers responded with a 8-0 scoring run that included buckets from Awa Sidibe, Shug Dickson, and Tyia Singleton. That brought the Scarlet Knights to a 23-20 lead, but Brigham stopped Penn State’s extended scoring drought with a powerful and-one finish.

Shay Hagans grabbed a bucket from there, and Penn State’s offense managed a 25-24 lead into halftime.

The Scarlet Knights opened the second half with their 12th turnover of the game on an errant pass, and Penn State capitalized in the form of another bucket for Marisa. Dickson nailed a trey for Rutgers in response, and the visitors followed that with two more quick scores. Kieger used her first timeout with her squad down 31-27 with 6:49 left in the third quarter.

Penn State exploded out of the timeout with a 9-0 scoring run. Marisa paced things early with a couple more scores, but Tova Sabel also got in on the action with a three-pointer and two made free throws. Back-and-forth scoring followed the rest of the way, as the Nittany Lions went on a 2:37 scoring drought. Despite that, Kieger’s team was up 40-36 entering the last 10 minutes of play.

Rutgers paced the scoring to open the fourth quarter. While it remained to be a defensive battle, the Scarlet Knights outscored Penn State 8-4 through the first five minutes. However, back-to-back threes for Marisa and Jekot handed the Nittany Lions a 48-44 lead entering a media timeout with 4:20 left.

The Scarlet Knights struck back out of that break with scores from Singleton and Brown, but a shot-clock violation for Rutgers was a massive momentum shift. Penn State took possession back up three with 48.6 seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, Anna Camden missed a solid look at three but Marisa corralled the offensive board. She drew a foul and hit one-of-two at the line, giving Penn State a 52-48 lead with 15.7 left.

The Scarlet Knights heaved up two final shots from deep, but neither fell and Penn State locked up the four-point victory.

Takeaways

  • Penn State had a fairly ugly 15 turnovers on the night, but Rutgers ended up leading the way in that department. Thanks to 22 turnovers on the Scarlet Knights’ end, this ended up being quite the defensive battle. Neither team was particularly hot from the field, either, so gritty defense and hustle play on either end were two key difference makers for the Nittany Lions.
  • In a tight Big Ten battle, Ali Brigham’s role inside was key. The sophomore transfer from George Washington totaled 13 points and six boards, and served as solid presence on defense for Penn State. Her role will continue to be important for Kieger’s team as Big Ten play rolls on.
  • Timely buckets and plays from Makenna Marisa remain to be so vital for this team. The star guard grabbed a team-high 16 points in the game, and also locked up the offensive rebound that essentially sealed the win for Penn State. Marisa continues to be a consistent, efficient option for this team, as she also grabbed two steals.

What’s Next?

The Lady Lions will stay home this weekend when Youngstown State comes to the BJC. That matchup will tip off at 2 p.m. and be broadcast on BTN+.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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