Lady Lions Dazzle In Front Of Season-High Attendance
Penn State women’s basketball rolled past Maryland 112-76 Sunday afternoon to clinch the program’s first midseason winning record since 2016-17.
The win was the team’s 15th of the season, the most in a single season throughout Carolyn Kieger’s Penn State coaching career. Since arriving in Happy Valley in 2019, Kieger increased her win total in each of the past five seasons but was quick to say the rebuild didn’t come easily.
“[Rebuilds] aren’t for everybody, and they test you in a lot of ways. I knew when I took this job, it wasn’t going to happen overnight,” Kieger said. “I knew we were going to have to build it brick by brick the right way, but I think we built a culture and a foundation that’s here to stay.”
The foundation of the program relies on the team’s bond on and off the court, and the strong relationships within it have taken the team to a new level.
“If you saw our team tonight, you could tell how much fun they were having, how much they love each other, and what it’s like to be a great teammate,” Kieger said.
Fans have noticed the culture has been increasing within the Lady Lions program, as the largest crowd of the season filled the Bryce Jordan Center on a rainy day to witness the blowout of the Terrapins.
“The crowd was amazing and had a lot of energy. This team is really good, and they deserve to play in front of a packed crowd,” Kieger said of the 3,532 folks on site for the matchup. “Obviously, the team had juice, but the crowd had just as much.”
Throughout the game, played in honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, many Penn State players and coaches noticed an increased number of female fans and reflected on the impact the sport has had on their lives.
“[Sports have] taken all of us places. I can’t even name the whole list of things basketball has brought me,” Makenna Marisa said after scoring a game-high 24 points. “Seeing all those little girls in the stands is really cool, and we tell them, ‘You can be in our shoes one day.'”
Kieger also saw the positive effects her team had on young girls in the crowd.
“Little girls aspire to be them, and they aspire to play at the next level,” she said. “These [players] playing their hearts out, leaving everything with a smile on their face, chest bumping each other, giving each other high fives, and just playing with energy, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about having fun. It’s about lifting each other up.”
The team suffered five losses this season, including in overtime to No. 12 Ohio State, a one-point defeat to No. 8 USC, and an 18-point loss to West Virginia. However, Kieger’s motto, “We can’t let failure define who we are,” was certainly showcased on the court against Maryland.
With momentum from five wins in a row, the Lady Lions are moving ahead to their matchup at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 31, at Minnesota. Kieger said the Gophers “got it rollin’ right now,” and Penn State must “lock back into the game plan and be ready to go up there.”
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