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Penn State Lady Lions Fall 86-82 To Drexel In Overtime Thriller

Penn State women’s basketball (8-4, 0-2 Big Ten) couldn’t keep up with Drexel (7-3) in a 86-82 road loss Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.

After a back-and-forth start to the opening quarter, Drexel jumped out to a commanding, 17-point lead with nearly three minutes to go in the first half. Veteran guard Kei Washington paced the Dragons’ backcourt with 19 first-half points in her highly anticipated duel with Makenna Marisa.

With their backs against the wall, the Lady Lions put together an impressive, 24-point third quarter to cut the deficit to a four-point clip. Ultimately, Marisa willed Penn State to overtime behind a 27-point span in regulation, but a field goal drought of 3:40 plagued the Nittany Lions in extra minutes.

How It Happened

The Lady Lions controlled the opening tip-off, but an early travel turnover gave Drexel early momentum. Maura Hendrixson put the Dragons on the board first with a smooth three-pointer, but Makenna Marisa instantly responded with a beyond-the-arc conversion of her own to knot the contest up at 3-a-piece. 

Following Marisa’s strike from deep, the Lady Lions proved to have their way with Drexel inside and out. Taniyah Thompson and Johnasia Cash both combined for a pair of early lay-ins, giving Penn State a 9-5 lead midway through the first quarter. 

However, Carolyn Kieger’s group failed to end the period on a high note, as the Lady Lions surrendered a 7-0 run to conclude the opening quarter to capture a 17-11 edge. Marisa’s prowess from the three-point line continued to keep the Lady Lions in striking distance, but Penn State’s supporting cast couldn’t maintain pace with Drexel’s quick backcourt attack. 

Penn State cut Drexel’s lead to four points early in the second quarter, but the Dragons’ margin rose to 11 points with about three minutes left in the half. Before Drexel’s offensive outburst, Marisa buried her third three-pointer of the matchup, resulting in her 150th conversion from deep across her Penn State career.

Ultimately, Drexel’s flashiest scorer, Kei Washington, propelled the home squad to a 41-29 edge at the break, largely impart to her 19 opening-half points. 

After the half, Penn State caught fire, hopping out to a 10-2 run started by two conversions from deep, thanks to Leilani Kapinus and Shay Ciezki. With the scorching hot stretch, the Lady Lions narrowed the deficit to a 43-39 clip in favor of Drexel. 

Opposing guards Erin Sweeney and Jasmine Valentine helped the Dragons regain spurts of momentum with timely midrange conversions, but the Lady Lions kept fighting back with vengeance. With just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Ciezki netted yet another three-pointer, bringing the comeback effort to a 47-44 mark with the Dragons’ maintaining a narrow lead. 

Marisa contributed five more points to the stat sheet to end the fiery stretch, giving the Lady Lions 24 points in the quarter, trailing narrowly, 57-53. After a driving layup by Washington extended the clip to six for the Dragons, Penn State kept its foot on the gas by giving Drexel fits from behind the arc. 

Once again, Marisa started the barrage of conversions with a deep three, which cut the deficit to a 59-56 mark. From there, two, massive put-backs from underneath by Alexa Williamson put Penn State within just one point with nine minutes to go. 

The back-and-forth, track-meet-styled event continued, but for the first time since the matchup’s opening sequence, Penn State took the lead with 6:33 left in regulation, thanks to a Leilani Kapinus three-pointer. 

Still, with its back against the wall, Drexel wouldn’t go away. Washington and Hendrixson powered in a three-pointer and a jump hook, respectively, which gave the Dragons a 67-65 lead at the quarter’s halfway point. 

However, with the matchup tied up at 69 each, Marisa hit a game-changing three-pointer to give Penn State a three-point lead heading into crunch time. Drexel, again, fought back with two free throws on the other end, but a crafty finish at the rim by Marisa helped the Lady Lions regain a slim, two-point edge with just over a minute remaining. 

Both squads nailed pairs of free throws with 50 seconds remaining, but neither team scored within the final 35 seconds to break the 76-76 stalemate. Without last-second heroics from either group, the Lady Lions and Dragons needed overtime to settle the battle. 

Penn State knocked down a pair of free throws early in overtime to capture a two-point edge, and continued to pressure Drexel with an additional three-point dagger courtesy of Shay Ciezki to take a 80-76 lead. 

But, over the next 3:40 in overtime, the Lady Lions failed to convert a shot from the field, with their lone points coming in the form of free throws from Williamson and Marisa. The late-game woes resulted in a 86-82 road defeat at the hands of the Dragons. 

Takeaways

  • Big-time players make big-time plays in big games, and that’s exactly what Makenna Marisa did against the Dragons. The crafty senior converted 10-of-16 attempts from the field, highlighted by a 70% three-point success rate, en route to a clinical 28-point performance. With Marisa’s latest display of magic, the Pittsburgh native deserves to be in the early-season Big Ten Player of the Year conversation. 
  • Head coach Carolyn Kieger needed to adjust her offensively philosophy at the half, and she did just that with flying colors. In the opening quarter, the Lady Lions netted only 11 points on five field goals, while also coughing up six turnovers. Conversely, in the third quarter, Penn State picked up 24 points behind 58% shooting from the field. During the fiery stretch, six Lady Lions found the bottom of the net, with three scoring at least five points. 
  • With the loss, Penn State concluded its non-conference slate with a solid 8-2 record heading exclusively into Big Ten play. Two seasons ago, the Lady Lions finished Kieger’s second campaign at the helm with a 9-15 mark, just one win better than Kieger’s triumph-tally 12 matchups into her fourth go-around in Happy Valley. Defeat aside, It appears as though the Lady Lions have finally turned the corner toward achieving sustained progress. 

What’s Next

The Lady Lions will head home for their final non-conference bout of the campaign with Cornell. Tip-off from the Bryce Jordan Center is set for 12 p.m. on Wednesday, December 21. 

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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