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Lady Lions Aiming For Mentality Switch Following Three-Game Skid

One loss to a conference opponent by 29 points is bad enough. Following that loss up with another loss to another conference opponent by 41 points is even worse. Struggling in the fourth quarter to a team with a losing record keeps that trend going.

Penn State spent Wednesday, January 11, and Saturday, January 14, getting blown out by Nebraska and No. 10 Iowa, respectively. After the team returned home to face Minnesota, which was 8-10 on the season and 1-6 in Big Ten play, the Lady Lions allowed yet another loss, though, this time in a tighter matchup.

Coming out of the Minnesota game on Wednesday night, both senior guard Makenna Marisa and head coach Carolyn Kieger blamed the team’s mindset for the struggles. The Lady Lions needed to get back on track, they explained.

“It starts with mentality; mentality is the biggest thing,” Marisa said. “We have to get together as a team, ultimately, and talk about what are the problems, what are the issues that we’re having right now.”

Kieger took a more rigid approach to the situation, as she came out of the locker room focused on three words: “toughness and discipline.” Those words will define the next four days of practice, she said.

Ignoring the mental aspect of the game, Penn State suffered its loss by allowing Minnesota to take the game over at the end of each quarter. Ultimately, the Golden Gophers’ fourth-quarter run put the Lady Lions away.

Even as it related to Minnesota’s late runs, Kieger is still focused on the team’s cohesion more than any one play on the floor.

“[Minnesota] went on their little run, and we couldn’t weather the storm,” she said. “That comes back to being a tough synergized group.”

Despite the loss, Penn State put together a few good stat lines. The team recorded a whopping 18 steals, headlined by sophomore Leilani Kapinus’ six steals as she continues to be one of the nation’s best on defense.

Still, Kieger took no positives away. Her focus was on how to get her team to change on the court and in the locker room.

“Toughness is, in my mind, a choice,” she said. “We have to choose the harder thing, and we got to fight through adversity.”

While Marisa didn’t share the same level of discontent as Kieger, she echoed those sentiments.

“That’s the game of basketball,” Marisa said. “You have to have heart, you have to have grit.”

Penn State has faced a three-game losing streak before — it happened a month and a half ago in losses to Virginia, Minnesota, and then-No. 4 Indiana. Similar to this streak, that skid was composed of a loss to a ranked Big Ten team and two losses to unranked opponents, one of which was Minnesota.

Coming out of their struggles in November, the Lady Lions bounced back with a 69-57 win over West Virginia. They’ll try to repeat that success on Sunday, January 22, at home against Wisconsin.

For Marisa, that game could be a turning point in the season. With a tough Big Ten conference schedule still to come and four ranked opponents standing between Penn State and the postseason, every game will count.

“The next game that we go into against Wisconsin is going to be a big one for us,” Marisa said. “We have to prove ourselves.”

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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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