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Makenna Marisa’s Career Year Fuels Lady Lions’ Recent Success

Following a dominant win over Long Island University to start the season, Penn State women’s basketball coach Carolyn Kieger wasn’t shy about praising her junior star point guard, Makenna Marisa, following a 19-point, six-assist outing.

“We believe Makenna is one of the best guards in the country,” Kieger said in the fall. “And we don’t think she’s getting the recognition she deserves.”

Since her season debut, the Pittsburgh native has averaged 22.8 points, four assists, and nearly two steals per matchup. Those averages are good enough to put her second in the conference for scoring, seventh for assists, and inside the top 10 for steals. She’s also the NCAA’s sixth-highest scorer so far this season and the only Lady Lion averaging more than 10 points per game.

Graduate transfer Kelly Jekot is wrapping up her final collegiate season here at Penn State. However, one of the main reasons why she returned to Penn State for one final ride was the chance to continue improving her game alongside the Lady Lions’ point guard.

“Makenna works really hard,” Jekot said. “I saw it the past two to three years, and you know, that’s the reason why I came back. Me and her have that chemistry, we have that bond, and I want to do it for her.”

Although Penn State holds a tough 5-11 conference record, Marisa’s consistency and ability to score the ball has kept the Lady Lions a scary team for any squad to go against on any given night. In fact, during those conference games, Marisa still managed to average 23.5 points, including three games in which she scored more than 30 points. In addition, Marisa has had five total games where she scored thirty or more points.

Just recently, after a 32-point performance against Iowa, Marisa became the 40th Lady Lion to eclipse 1,000 career points. She’s also joined a list of 20 other program stars to reach 1,000 points before the end of her junior season.

To put Marisa’s scoring season in perspective, let’s compare her current season to two of the greatest Lady Lions in history: Kelly Mazzante and Maggie Lucas. Both are the two best scorers in the history of Penn State women’s basketball itself, but comparing Marisa’s season to Lucas and Mazzante’s best isn’t too crazy.

With only two games left in the season, Marisa has amassed 592 total points. Lucas’ best season came during her senior season in which she finished with 672 points. But if Marisa keeps scoring like she has been, she is expected to surpass that by 54 points. Mazzante was unstoppable her sophomore and junior season (seriously, unstoppable), but Marisa is on pace to top her senior season by 45, too.

Off the court, Marisa attributed most of her success due to the fact that this year’s squad has been closer than ever, and to her, it feels like family. However, on the court, she prides herself on remaining consistent.

“Consistency for me is important,” Marisa said. “I’m always trying to work on my weaknesses — shooting, ball-handling — and if I have a rough shooting night, I’m going to try and get more shots up in the gym. Consistency is super key.”

Kieger acknowledged that Marisa has improved in every statistical category when it comes to basketball. Beyond that, Kieger expressed that she is not only impressed with Marisa’s love for Penn State, but also her relentless attitude toward making herself and her team the best they can be.

“She’s learning to be an enforcer,” Keiger said. “She wants to win. She wants to take this program and put them back on the map. I really admire her relentlessness and her fight to bring her teammates with her.”

Marisa and the Lady Lions continue their season with an away matchup against No. 17 Ohio State on Thursday, February 24. Tip-off from the Bryce Jordan Center is set for 6 p.m. on BTN+.

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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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