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Lady Lions’ Fight Not Enough In 76-61 Loss To Nebraska

Penn State women’s basketball (9-12, 3-8 Big Ten) came up short against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (17-4, 7-4 Big Ten) in a 76-61 road loss Thursday night, although the game wasn’t as much of a blowout as the final score indicates.

The Lady Lions put up a valiant effort, controlling the pace for much of the game and keeping Nebraska well within striking distance. Ultimately, though, the Cornhuskers had too much firepower for Penn State to combat.

How It Happened

Ali Brigham got the scoring started with a second-chance bucket for the Lady Lions to put them up 2-0, but Isabelle Bourne quickly responded for the Cornhuskers. Both teams traded baskets until it was Bourne again who converted the lay-up off of a Makenna Marisa miss to give Nebraska the 7-4 lead.

Marisa would get that back a few possessions later with a mid-range jumper then and one from long-range to take back the lead for the Lady Lions.

An 8-0 run by Nebraska fueled by Penn State turnovers, however, concluded what was a strong start to the quarter for the Lady Lions on a sour note.

The second quarter began a lot slower on the offensive end for both squads. At the eight-minute mark, Marisa pulled up from her spot near the elbow to kick off the scoring to make the score 20-16.

Then, things began to pick up. Brigham scored back-to-back buckets underneath, but Mi’Cole Cayton pulled up from way outside and drained a three-ball to stop the bleeding for the Cornhuskers.

A few possessions later, Leilani Kapinus got involved from downtown to bring Penn State within three points. It was 26-23, but the Cornhuskers had an answer. It was Bourne again after her big first quarter to give her 10 points.

Moments after, Nebraska’s Jaz Shelley got involved in the scoring with a triple to give her three points, seven assists and nine rebounds at the end of the first half. Marisa pulled up from the elbow right before the half-time buzzer to give her 11 points and put the score at 34-28 entering the locker room.

Nebraska didn’t hesitate to get things started in the second half, as Ashley Scoggin came out firing from deep to give Nebraska the 37-28 lead, its biggest of the game.

Shelley stroked her second three-ball of the game to give her six points, but Marisa had a response, once again. After a brief scoring drought, Sam Haiby broke things open with a fast-break and-1, extending Nebraska’s lead to 11.

It was the first non-assisted bucket for the Cornhuskers to this point.

Penn State’s full-court pressure, as well as Marisa’s offensive prowess, was making things difficult for Nebraska and it was keeping the Lady Lions in the game.

Just under the three-minute mark in the third quarter, Shelley fed a gorgeous pass down low to Alexis Markowski down-low for her tenth assist of the game to extend Nebraska’s lead back up to nine, 49-40. But Penn State wasn’t going down without a fight.

Marisa went to the line, Kapunis found a lane to the hoop and Niya Beverley hit a deep three, and all of sudden, it became a five-point ball game. Despite being down by as much as 12, Penn State outscored Nebraska by three in the third quarter and entered the final frame of action down by only three.

Marisa kicked off the fourth quarter with two buckets for the Lady Lions, but she continued to be their only viable option on offense. The Cornhuskers, on the other hand, their team-ball remained too much for the Lady Lions to combat on the defensive end.

The score stood at 62-56 at the first media timeout, and coming out of it Alexis Markowski would put her prints on the game scoring five straight points, including an and-1 to extend Nebraska’s lead to 65-57. Anna Camden fouled out following that one, and possessions later Brigham would foul out on yet another and-one muscled in by Markowski to give Nebraska its biggest lead of the game at 13, 72-59.

Shortly after, Marisa fouled out after a slight push that was called on the offensive end, and things were starting to look grim for Penn State. The Lady Lions were outscored 23-11 in the fourth quarter. Despite an impressive effort, but they ran out of gas just a little too soon.

Takeaways

  • Makenna Marisa scored a game-high 27 points, but she needs some help. A dynamic scorer with a near-automatic jump shot, Marisa draws so much attention on the offensive end that Lady Lions need someone who is able to capitalize on that and be a reliable second-option.
  • Nebreska had 23 assists on 27 made field-goals, which makes this a tale of two teams. Nebraska finished with all but two of its players with a positive +/-, Penn State on the other hand, everyone finished in the negative excluding one (Maddie Burke). The Cornhuskers were just too much of a handful, especially down low.
  • Head coach Carolyn Keiger came in with the right game plan to put pressure on the Cornhuskers, which kept the ball in Penn State’s court for most of the game, forcing Nebraska to have to gut and grind out a win. Although, the Cornhuskers were able to breakthrough once the Lady Lions got into major foul-trouble late in the fourth.

What’s Next?

The Lady Lions return back to the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday, February 6, to square off with the Northwestern Wildcats for the second time this season after winning the first matchup in Evanston 63-59. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.

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About the Author

Zach Donaldson

Zach is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a writer for Onward State and serves as an editor for Penn State’s CommRadio. He hails from Downingtown, Pa., or in other words "just outside of Philly." When he's not watching or ranting about Philly sports, you can probably find him at the gym. If you like sports tweets, follow him on Twitter @zachdonaldson_ and all inquiries can go to [email protected]

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