Lady Lions Aiming To Bounce Back Against The Best Following Two Consecutive Losses

After a hot 7-0 start to the season, Penn State women’s basketball has met its match — twice.

A slow start against Virginia led to an 89-68 loss at the Bryce Jordan Center, the team’s first loss of the season. A fourth-quarter collapse against Minnesota led to a double-overtime loss on the road when the Lady Lions fell 98-96.

After the Virginia loss, head coach Carolyn Kieger said the coaching staff would take a look at the team’s starting lineup, which was heavily responsible for scoring just seven points in the opening 10 minutes of the game.

Minutes prior, Makenna Marisa, who led the team in scoring against Virginia, said she knew the team had work to do. Her performance, along with the team’s, wasn’t enough, Marisa said. They needed to spend more time in the gym, more time studying film, and more time becoming the team they thought they could be.

Two days later, Kieger and Marisa fulfilled both of their promises.

Kieger placed Chanaya Pinto in the starting lineup against Minnesota, who went on to score 11 points. While the first quarter wasn’t quite the explosion that Kieger may have wanted, the Lady Lions bumped their first quarter point total to 14.

Whatever Marisa thought she was going to score against the Golden Gophers, she probably scored more. The junior point guard dropped a career-high 34 points on the road, including shooting 7-of-10 from beyond the arc, albeit she had an extra 10 minutes to do so.

In reality, Penn State wasn’t far off from beating Minnesota. Had the Lady Lions shot above 50% from the free throw line and had the Golden Gophers shot under 87%, Penn State would have walked out 1-0 in Big Ten play.

Still, the Lady Lions were unable to pull out a win against Minnesota. Now, instead of bouncing back from a 21-point loss to Virginia, they’ll have to bounce back from two straight losses. Even worse, their next opponent is Indiana, who’s ranked No. 4 in the country by the Associated Press and No. 3 by USA Today.

Still, Kieger isn’t backing down. Her team’s preparation will stay the same, though, the game plan will be more chaotic to keep the Hoosiers from settling in.

“When [Indiana gets] in a rhythm and they get very comfortable, they’re one of the best offensive teams in the country,” she said. “You have to keep them off balance and you have to keep throwing different stuff at them.”

A significant part of Kieger’s game plan against Indiana involves an inconsistent defensive strategy — using different presses, formations, and players to get Indiana out of sync. Another part of her game plan against the Hoosiers, and for the rest of the season, is Marisa.

While Marisa has led the team in scoring all season long, Kieger said that the matchup against Minnesota was the first time that the guard showcased her true potential for the Lady Lions.

“Our team just did a much better job finding her and drawing attention to themselves and kicking to her,” she said. “It was great to see her get back in rhythm, but we need it to continue on Thursday night.”

The Minnesota game showed that the Lady Lions can bounce back from a difficult loss. While the final product may not have shown up, Kieger believes that the best is yet to come.

Despite the quality of her next opponent, this part of the season will be kind to Kieger. Four of the team’s next five games will be at the Bryce Jordan Center as the team closes out the calendar year. For Kieger, this means that she’ll have quality time with her team to perfect its final product.

“I’m just excited to have time to teach and learn. I think this group really wants to learn, they want really want to get it right,” she said. “They know we need to fix things, and we haven’t played our best basketball yet.”

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a senior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He writes about everything Penn State, especially its 10-2 football team. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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