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Lady Lions Upset Minnesota 72-67 In Opening Round Of Big Ten Tournament

No. 13-seeded Penn State women’s basketball (14-16, 5-14 Big Ten) kicked off the Big Ten Tournament with a 72-67 win against No. 12-seeded Minnesota (11-19, 4-14 Big Ten).

The Lady Lions’ dominant first quarter was enough to give them their first Big Ten Tournament win since 2018.

How It Happened

The Lady Lions started strong, pressing the Golden Gophers into conceding two turnovers within the first possessions of the game and took a 6-0 lead. The lead continued to increase as Penn State’s Leilani Kapinus managed to get an and-one opportunity, extending the lead to 11-3. Later, Makenna Marisa stretched the lead even more with a three-pointer to make the score 16-3 and close an 8-0 run by the Lady Lions.


The Lady Lions’ defense was the key factor in the first quarter, as they managed to hold Minnesota to only one basket throughout the opening quarter. This was emphasized when Shay Ciezki made another three later in the quarter to make the score 21-3. Penn State’s defense was on full display as the Golden Gophers conceded eight turnovers at the end of the first quarter with the score at 21-9.


Minnesota opened the second quarter strong and converted on their first two possessions to cut the lead to 21-14. Throughout the whole second quarter, both teams traded baskets. The noteworthy player was Marisa, managing to score multiple times, as the Lady Lions defended their lead 30-19.


Penn States’ relentless defense was making the Golden Gophers’ possessions much more difficult, causing them to produce even more turnovers. All this culminated at the half with the Lady Lions leading 35-25 with Marisa contributing 12 of the points.


The start of the third quarter was quite similar to the second. Both teams traded points with each other as Minnesota tried to claw back with the score of 39-32. The defense was Penn State’s savior, as it managed to record steals and capitalize on Minnesota’s mistakes. Kapinus led the charge and managed to get two easy fast break buckets and lengthen the lead to double-digit points.


The Golden Gophers committed many fouls throughout the whole quarter adding to their turnovers and giving the Lady Lions multiple opportunities from the line as the score was 49-38. Late in the third quarter, Ciezki fell to the ground clutching her ankle from a collision with another player. She left the court after managing to score an impressive 16 points. This didn’t stop the Lady Lions, and the defense came in the clutch once again, forcing Minnesota to commit its 19th turnover of the game.


The fourth quarter was a slow start for the Lady Lions. The Golden Gophers scored points from their first two possessions and cut the lead to 56-44. But Penn State’s hustle played a role, and Chanaya Pinto registered a steal and offensive rebound to notch the score at 63-48.


In the middle of the fourth quarter, Minnesota gained a second wind and tried to force the late comeback. It managed to go on an 8-0 run, aided by Penn State turnovers. But through a tough layup, Marisa managed to get the and-one and covert to make the score 66-56. Some more productive offensive possessions for Minnesota extended the run to 13-3 and the score to 66-61, with Kapinus fouling out with 2:30 on the clock.


The pressure by the Golden Gophers got to Penn State’s head, as they cut the lead even more to 66-64 with a minute left. From its possession, Minnesota tied the game with 45 seconds left at 66-66. Immediately the Lady Lions responded with a clutch Marisa layup.


From a chaotic loose ball, Penn State fouled Minnesota forcing free throws as it scored one, and forced Penn State to call a timeout with 24 seconds left and the score 69-67. Alexa Williamson was fouled on the inbound, and sank one free throw to lead 70-67 and 23 seconds remaining. As Minnesota ran up the court, it fumbled the possession, and gave the ball back to Penn State, but ultimately fouled Ali Brigham.


Brigham’s clutch free throws sealed the game as the Lady Lions manufactured a 72-67 upset.

Takeaways:

  • Defense wins games, and this was no different. The Lady Lions forced the Golden Gophers to take bad shots and forced 19 turnovers. This also was key down the stretch to gain the ball and force Minnesota to foul and sent Penn State to the foul line.
  • The first quarter set the stage for this win. The defense, the hustle, and the shot selection, stood out like never before. Penn State ended the quarter with a 12-point lead, but it wasn’t reflective of what was truly going on. This was a team win and the Lady Lions fought for every point.

What’s Next?

Penn State will face No. 5-seeded Michigan at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 2. Folks can stream the game on BTN+.

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About the Author

Matthew Ramos

Matt is a failed comp sci major turned English major from Colombia. Any angry comments can DMed to his Instagram and MySpace no_jam_mattjam.

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