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Lady Lions Ironing Out Offense Amid Strong Defensive Performances

Coming off of a dominant 28-point win over Fairfield, head coach Carolyn Kieger and her squad left the court excited but focused on improvement.

Penn State women’s basketball allowed just 49 points against the Stags in a dominant performance Two nights earlier, the Lady Lions allowed 67 points against Norfolk State, which has scored a combined 202 points against its two other opponents.

For Kieger, her team’s defense will be crucial as the team tries to work its way into the legion of the best 64 teams in the country come March.

“That’s something that we’ve really stressed all summer long is ‘Yes, obviously, offense is fun, and it’s exciting, but defense is what’s going to be able to put us in the NCAA Tournament,'” Kieger said. “We know that in order to get stops and rebounds and turn people over and make them uncomfortable — is what’s really going to make the next push to put us back on the map.”

Those efforts came alive as the Lady Lions out-stole the Stags 17-9 and earned 33 points off turnovers — nearly double what they had two days prior.

On the other side of the court, Penn State shot 52.5% from the field — a significant bump from the Norfolk State matchup. Four players scored more than 10 points, and the bench dropped 29 points. The team’s leading scorer, Makenna Marisa, dropped 14 points and 10 assists in her second straight double-double.

Despite that, Kieger isn’t satisfied with her offense, and reasonably so. It’s near the bottom of the Big Ten in scoring and nowhere near the top 50 in the NCAA.

Against Norfolk State, the Lady Lions turned the ball over 23 times. Against Fairfield, that number improved by just one. On both nights, they’ve given up more turnovers than they recorded assists.

“We shot 52% and turned the ball over 22 times,” Kieger said. “If we can eliminate even a third of those turnovers, we’re in the 90s, and that’s our goal.”

Kieger’s players echoed the same concerns, pledging to improve.

“We had only a couple of people in a positive assist-to-turnover ratio,” guard Leilani Kapinus said. “Once we get back into conference play, and just [against] any team that we have in the future, we can’t have that many turnovers.”

While still unranked, the Lady Lions do seem to be rapidly improving. On Monday, Keiger said that the team was focused on improving their turnover numbers. As a whole, she was optimistic.

“We’ve been really working on our high-low passing and just making better decisions with the ball and trying to play quick but not hurrying,” Kieger said.

Despite being undefeated, Kieger is still holding her team to a high standard and is looking forward to the team’s next two matchups against Youngstown State on Tuesday and Bryant on Friday.

“We haven’t played well yet, so I think for us there’s nothing to be complacent about,” Kieger said. “There are so many things that we want to fine-tune here before we play Syracuse; these are two amazing opportunities for us to get better as a team.”

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a sophomore journalism major at Penn State. He enjoys yelling into the Twitter void over various sports items that don't really matter. If you ever want to meet him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Find (and disagree with him) on Twitter (Joe_Lister21) or by email ([email protected])

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