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‘A Win Is A Win’: Lady Lions’ Late Push Helps Avoid WBIT Upset

Despite not making the NCAA Tournament, Penn State women’s basketball entered the postseason expecting to dance.

The Lady Lions earned a No. 1 seed in the inaugural WBIT, giving them a matchup at the Bryce Jordan Center with George Mason on Thursday night.

The blue and white opened the game on a 19-7 run before seeing that lead slip away. The Patriots led for most of the game before Penn State climbed back and forced overtime, and the Lady Lions went on to win 84-80.

Head coach Carolyn Kieger expressed the difficulty of winning in March but added that improvements will be made throughout the coming rounds of the tournament.

“[I’m] really proud of our team’s resiliency,” Kieger said postgame. “Obviously, we didn’t play our best basketball, but I thought our last 15 minutes was how we wanted to play all game long, and we got to build off that.”

Kieger credited the players for being the ones to lead the comeback and eventual win, saying they have a love for each other that brings the team together. That sentiment was shared by players on the team.

“I have great teammates. If I’m not bringing it, they’re going to let me know, and it’s just something that we all expect out of each other,” guard Leilani Kapinus said after a 13-point, 15-rebound performance. “We just fed off of each other over and over. Every play. Every small thing.”

This season has had its share of ups and downs for Penn State, including streaks of six wins and six losses. With the victory over George Mason, the Lady Lions have now won four of their last five matchups, with the only loss coming against No. 2 Iowa.

Through the recent success, the team believes it’s finding its identity again despite the struggles it faced in February, and it’s only getting stronger in the postseason.

Ashley Owusu, who dropped a team-high 20 points against the Patriots, said attitudes have improved since the postseason began.

“Postseason is a whole other level. At this point, it’s either win or you go home and sit down,” Owusu said. “This is March. Every team is going to come out, and it’s going to be a dogfight.”

Penn State expects to get the best from every team it faces, and with a second-round matchup against Belmont on the horizon, it’s preparing to play with more energy.

“We’re going to regroup, but survive and advance, and we’ll take it,” Kieger said. “I have more gray hair after that, but a win is a win and we’ll build off this.”

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About the Author

Michael Siroty

Michael Siroty is a freshman from Westfield, New Jersey, majoring in broadcast journalism. When he isn't writing articles or making TikToks for Onward State, Siroty is either taking a peaceful walk around Beaver Stadium or at his summer day camp job. You can contact him to discuss your sushi order or music taste on Instagram and Twitter @msiroty or by email at [email protected].

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