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Lady Lions Cruise To 90-72 Victory Over Illinois

Penn State women’s basketball (8-7) defeated Illinois (6-9) Sunday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center, with a final score of 90-72.

The blue and white dominated the first half, scoring 49 points and maintaining good defense. Nothing changed in the second half, as the Lady Lions continued their solid performance. Makenna Marisa (25 points) and Shay Hagans (17 points) were two key contributors to the victory.

How It Happened

Following two consecutive losses against ranked opponents in Maryland and Michigan, the Lady Lions took the court against the Fighting Illini, who came into the game following a win against Wisconsin. Today’s starting lineup was slightly different than the previous game, as Ali Brigham started in favor of Anna Camden.

Shay Hagans had a strong opening with three baskets. Hagans spearheaded a strong first few minutes, as Penn State was rolling in the first quarter.

The defense began the game playing well, putting tremendous pressure on Illinois, as it had only a 22.2% field goal percentage through the first five minutes. Upon being subbed in for Brigham, Anna Camden had a nice play with a blocked shot attempt and rebound.

It’s safe to say the Lady Lions absolutely dominated the first quarter, leading 24-14 at the end of it. Along with posting a 50.0 field goal percentage while holding the Illini to a 27.8 field goal percentage, things went very well for the blue and white. Both the offense and defense was in sync, and Penn State appeared to be playing ahead of Illinois.

Makenna Marisa also had a nice buzzer-beater shot to cap off a great first quarter for the team.

The blue and white began the second quarter just as it did the first quarter. Penn State went on a scoring run, causing Illinois to take a timeout at the 4:53 mark after it expanded the lead to 33-20.

Penn State played a phenomenal first half. It had a very comfortable 49-26 lead and was firing on all cylinders, and Caroline Kreiger’s team maintained a 52.8 field goal percentage as well as a 54.5 three-point percentage. The first-half performance was quite impressive for the defense as well, as Penn State held Illinois to a 20.0 three point percentage and a 31.4 field goal percentage.

Makenna Marisa led all scorers at the half with 13 points. It’s hardly a surprise, as she is averaging 20.8 points per game against conference opponents, which is tied for fourth-most in the Big Ten. Marisa is also tied for tenth among all D1 players with eight 20-point games this season.

Illinois played better to begin the third quarter, with two baskets to open up the half. Penn State continued to score, but the Illini managed to cut the lead to within 15 points.

However, Penn State bounced back from a bit of a rough start to the quarter and expanded the lead to almost thirty points with a big scoring run. This was its biggest lead of the game so far.

Shay Hagans continued a solid performance with a steal-and-score, putting the Lady Lions’ defensive capabilities on full display.

With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, it was clear that Penn State would likely win handily. Illinois did play better in the quarter with an improved field goal percentage of 43.4%, but Penn State continued responding with a 58.8 field goal percentage. Penn State had a 78-53 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Despite being down by a hefty margin, the Illini weren’t going back to Champaign quietly. The Illini trimmed the lead to within 20 points to open up the fourth quarter.

The Illini heated up and got back into the game, and had outscored the Lady Lions 11-5 at the halfway mark through the quarter.

Although Illinois played much better in the fourth quarter, it woke up too late. Penn State won the game by a score of 90-72.

Takeaways

  • Penn State played a very good defensive game, particularly in the first half, when Illinois was held to a 31.4 field goal percentage. Illinois’ final field goal percentage was 38.7%.
  • Makenna Marisa is an amazing player and a valuable asset to her team. Nine 20+ point games in 15 matchups means she is doing this well over half the time.
  • Although this was a nice win, Penn State needs to do better when closing out games. It was outscored by Illinois 19-12 in the fourth quarter and did not have much momentum toward the end of the game.

What’s Next

Penn State will travel to Evanston, Illinois to face the Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday, January 20 at 8 p.m.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a freshman majoring in Journalism. From the Maryland side of the DC suburbs, Nolan likes using Old Bay and is a diehard Washington sports fan, which can be both difficult and rewarding. If you want to debate anything about sports with him, follow him on Instagram @_nolanwick or on Twitter @nolan_wick.

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