Lady Lions Top Northwestern 63-59 With Late-Game Heroics

Penn State women’s basketball (9-7, 3-3 Big Ten) defeated Northwestern (11-6, 3-3 Big Ten) 63-59 Thursday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Despite committing 19 turnovers and shooting 36.7% from the field, the Lady Lions were able to get it done against the Wildcats. Makenna Marisa led the squad with 20 points, seven rebounds, and a perfect 10-for-10 mark from the charity stripe. Leilani Kapinus notched 15 points and a team-high five steals.

How It Happened

The Lady Lions got it going early with Shay Hagans getting an early steal and finding Kapinus for an easy fast-break score. The Wildcats answered with a steal-and-score of their own with Laya Hartman and Veronica Burton making the play. The threes began to fly for both sides, but the lead remained in Penn State’s favor 8-7 despite its five turnovers.

The back-and-forth play continued into the final minutes of the first quarter, but Northwestern separated itself in large part to Burton. During a 9-2 run to end the first quarter, Burton led the way with five points, two steals, and an assist. The Wildcats now lead by four after the first 15 minutes of action.

Anna Camden sank a corner three to get the Lady Lions back within one possession to begin the second quarter. After a quick bucket from Melannie Daley to answer the three, both teams got cold and went scoreless for three minutes as both teams shot a combined 0-for-7 from the field.

After a TV timeout midway through the quarter, the Lady Lions started to find their rhythm. Kapinus started a 9-0 run for Penn State that gave them its first lead of the second quarter. Jillian Brown finally ended the run by sinking one deep from beyond the arc. The Wildcats then tied this game back up thanks to a Courtney Shaw lay-up.

The Lady Lions started the first half very sloppy as they recorded nine turnovers in just the first quarter but bounced back with only two in the second. Penn State also out-rebounded Northwestern, 24-19 in a game that has seen four ties and four lead changes thus far.

Our first score of the second half didn’t come until the 7:30-minute mark where Hartman hit a pull-up jumper to give the Wildcats its first lead of the second half. Burton kept it going for Northwestern as she lead a 10-6 run. However, Ali Brigham scored her second bucket of the game to cool off the Wildcats.

In just the final minute of action in the third, Marisa hit a corner three to get the lead back for Penn State. Lady Lions enter the fourth quarter with a 42-41 advantage.

Hagans grabbed her second steal of the night and scored an easy fast-break lay-up to start the final ten minutes of play for Penn State. However, it was Burton again with the answer to keep things within one. After two free throws from Marisa, freshman Caileigh Walsh sank a three to tie this game up, again.

As the clock continued to tick, both teams continued to trade blows. However, Ali Brigham began to feast in the paint after back-to-back post lay-ups which gave Penn State its first two-possession lead of the fourth quarter. The WIldcats started to turn it on after a deep three from Lauryn Satterwhite and a mid-range jumper from Walsh to give Northwestern a two-point lead with just two minutes left to play.

Kelly Jekot heaved up a prayer to tie this game up. On Penn State’s next possession, Kapinus fought through contact and completed the and-one play. After a missed three-point attempt from Northwestern, Kapinus turned the ball over, which lead to an easy layup for Shaw to bring this game back to one. The Wildcats quickly fouled Marisa, but she sunk both free throws to extend this lead back to three.

After a timeout, the Wildcats inbounded the ball to Burton, who got fouled while shooting from three. However, she was able to sink only two of them. Then, Marisa was fouled and sank two clutch free throws to put the Lady Lions up by four with 6.2 seconds left of action. On Northwestern’s next possession, Walsh was fouled in the paint and sank both of her free throws to bring this back within two. Marisa was fouled again and sank both of her free throws to put this game out of reach.

Finally, after a nail-biter of a fourth quarter, Penn State was able to sneak past Northwestern with a 63-59 win.


  • Coach Carolyn Kieger showed love to the 2-3 zone in her game plan today, and it worked big-time. The Lady Lions were able to force the Wildcats into some uncomfortable situations, and it showed. They forced 18 turnovers and allowed Northwestern to shoot only 35.4% from the field.
  • Veronica Burton was the best player on the court tonight. She totaled 16 points and five steals while also shooting 40% from downtown. When the Wildcats needed an extra push, Burton was there to deliver.
  • This game was messy for the Lady Lions. They looked sloppy from the start, and it didn’t get too much better after that. They ended up compiling 19 turnovers and shooting 36.7% from the field. But hey! A win is a win.

What’s Next?

The Lady Lions will travel up north to take on Wisconsin on Sunday, January 23, for their seventh Big Ten matchup of the year. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a senior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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