Lady Lions Fall To Wisconsin 69-64
Penn State women’s basketball (16-8, 7-6 Big Ten) fell to Wisconsin (11-11, 4-8 Big Ten) 69-64 on Sunday afternoon.
Despite being up by 14 at halftime, the Lady Lions took their foot off the gas and allowed Wisconsin, which was led by Serah Williams with 31 points, to creep back up and steal the game. Ashley Owusu led Penn State with 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in the losing effort.
How It Happened
The Lady Lions offense came flying out of the gate, as Shay Ciezki knocked down three consecutive jumpers from beyond the arch, all of which came in transition. This flaming hot start from deep gave Penn State a 13-4 lead and forced a very early timeout from the Wisconsin bench.
Fresh out of the Badger timeout, Penn State sent a double team at Wisconsin’s Serah Williams who turned the ball over due to a travel. Ashley Owusu got in on the offensive explosion, draining a deep two-point jumper to make it 15-6.
Penn State began to get lazy with the basketball, as it came up empty in four straight possessions due to errant passes and turnovers. Wisconsin used this to build some momentum, as Williams knocked down a dead-center three to cut the Penn State lead down to 17-11. The Lady Lions answered back as Jayla Oden came into the game right off the bench and knocked down a corner three off of an assist from Owusu to put Penn State up by nine.
In the final seconds of the first quarter, Owusu grabbed the inbound pass, ran up the court, and then drained a half-court buzzer-beater to give the Lady Lions a 25-12 lead going into the second quarter.
Wisconsin started the second quarter on a better foot, as it forced back-to-back stops on the Penn State offense and then supplemented that with back-to-back buckets to make it a 25-16 ball game. Owusu was shockingly left wide open, where she quickly made Wisconsin regret that choice, knocking down a corner three to extend the Lady Lions’ lead to 11.
Ciezki, who had gone quiet after her lightning-quick start, navigated through the lane, and got a contested layup to drop before being sent to the line for an and-one opportunity. Leilani Kapnis grabbed a rebound and gave the ball to Owusu who pushed the tempo in transition and found Ciezki wide open in the corner where she knocked down her fourth three of the day.
Kapinus brought in another defensive rebound, but this time, went coast to coast where she muscled her way through two defenders and got a layup to fall despite being fouled. Kapnius let out an emphatic yell and displayed the “too small gesture” towards the Wisconsin defenders. She could not get the extra free throw to fall which put the score at 38-21 in favor of the Lady Lions.
Wisconsin responded with a top-of-the-arch three from Williams. An offensive rebound Moriah Murray saved the last position of the first half for Penn State, where she gave the ball to Owusu to reset the offense with eight seconds left. Owusu broke her defender down and let a deep step back two fly, but it rattled in and out, sending Penn State to the locker room up 40-26.
Wisconsin came out of the half firing on all cylinders, building an 8-1 run and forcing a Penn State timeout with the score sitting at 41-34. Out of the timeout, Chanaya Pinto was fouled and sent to the line where she made one of two shots.
All of the momentum that Penn State had built up throughout the game had been drained just five minutes into the third quarter. The Badgers put together another ridiculous scoring run, this time 11-1, and now lead 43-42 after Penn State’s offense coughed the ball up four straight times.
Finally, the Lady Lions got a bucket to drop, as Owusu put up a crafty finish in the paint, giving Penn State the lead again, 44-43. Penn State’s grip on the game continued to slip, as the offensive turnovers continued to pile up. Makenna Marisa, who had yet to get a bucket to fall, worked her way into the lane but was called for a charging foul, resulting in yet another turnover for the Lady Lions who now trailed 50-47 at the end of the third.
The Lady Lions started the fourth quarter right where they left, as they turned the ball over on their first possession of crunch time. As a result, Wisconsin knocked down a three and extended its lead to 53-47. Marisa finally got on the board as she knocked down a free throw to cut down the 55-48 Wisconsin lead. Kapinus was also fouled, this time making both free throws, putting Penn State within three with the score sitting at 54-57. A step-back three from Marisa knotted the game up at 57-57, but Wisconsin’s Williams got an offensive rebound and got the and-one put back to fall. Ciezki answered that basket on the other end with a three of her own, but Williams continued her dominance in the paint as she got another bucket to fall.
With the clock working against them, the Lady Lions got a timely steal to get the ball back, but a back-breaking travel call was ruled against Owusu, giving Wisconsin the ball right back up 65-62. Penn State had yet another opportunity to tie the game as Marisa was wide open in the corner, but couldn’t get the shot to fall with the clock dwindling to 0:00 shortly after.
- Turnovers were once again the name of the game for the Lady Lions. Even though they forced 22 turnovers, they gave up 21 themselves. All of those empty possessions caused some devastating scoring droughts.
- The Lady Lions had a disastrous third quarter, as they were outscored 7-24. Surrendering the lead that they worked so hard to build in the first half, as quickly as they did, was inexcusable.
- Owusu needed some support from her surrounding cast, finishing with 24 points. The next highest scorer was Ciezki who finished with 18 points, but nine of those came in the first two minutes of the game. Marisa had just four points on six shots. It felt like if it wasn’t Owusu scoring down the stretch, nobody was.
The Lady Lions will return to the BJC to take on Illinois at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 15. The game will be streamed on BTN+.
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“If they make a mistake, it’s not a failure unless you don’t try again.”
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The Nittany Lions are off to a 11-1 start through their first two tournaments.