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Lady Lions’ Carolyn Kieger Reaches Highest Win Total Of Penn State Coaching Career

In her first three seasons at the helm of Penn State women’s basketball, Carolyn Kieger had never won 12 games in a single season. That has now changed.

Kieger secured her 12th victory in a 74-69 win over Wisconsin. At this point, the Lady Lions are 12-8 with 10 games left in the regular season, meaning Kieger’s 12th win may come in her first winning season as a Big Ten basketball head coach.

When she was hired by Penn State to lead the Lady Lions, Kieger was a respectable choice. She led the Marquette Golden Eagles to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and advanced to the second round in her last two seasons. She won a Big East Tournament and a regular-season championship at Marquette and demonstrated her ability to win.

However, after arriving in Happy Valley, Kieger struggled. The Lady Lions won just seven games across the 2019 season and went 1-17 in Big Ten play, finishing at the bottom of the conference table.

“I don’t think everybody and every person is built for a rebuild,” Kieger said after Sunday’s game. “I think it tests you in so many ways and challenges you every single day.”

Still, she knew what it would take to make Penn State a successful program.

“First, you have to build the culture, and you got to build up leaders, and that starts with relationships and then the championships can come and you can’t skip any of that order.”

At Marquette, Kieger improved upon her record year after year. After going 9-22 in her first year as a head coach, she finished her time at her alma mater with a 27-8 record in her final year and a .607 win rate to boast.

The same has happened at Penn State. Each year, Kieger’s record has improved, even with a shortened season in 2020. Her overall record with the Lady Lions is still well below .500 at 27-56, but she’s slowly showing that she can make them a winning team.

“The biggest key is learning how to win, and we learned how to win tonight,” she said.

Despite the struggles the team once faced, wins like those against Wisconsin are culture-builders.

“This is just something to build on,” she said. “At the end of the day, the only thing we care about is putting Penn State back in the postseason.”

Despite the growth of the program, Kieger isn’t looking too far into the future. All that matters to her is taking things slowly and appreciating the progress.

“We take it one game at a time. So our next goal is to beat Rutgers,” Kieger said. “That’s our next goal. After that, like I said: postseason.”

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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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