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Lady Lions Hold Off Belmont 74-66 In WBIT Second Round

Penn State women’s basketball (20-12, 9-9 Big Ten) defeated Belmont (26-8, 17-3 Missouri Valley) 74-66 in the second round of the WBIT on Monday evening at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The Lady Lions were led by Ashley Owusu and Makenna Marisa, who scored 16 and 18 points, respectively. Leilani Kapinus also added nine points and seven rebounds.

How It Happened

Penn State won the tip and Ali Brigham scored its first points on the first possession with a layup, but Belmont responded with a basket from Kilyn McGuff. On the Bruins’ next possession, Blair Shoenwald hit a three-pointer.

Brigham dropped down another layup to keep the scoring hot before Marisa found Kapinus under the rim a few possessions later for two more points. Through four minutes of action, Penn State led 6-5.

After Kapinus’ bucket, both teams struggled on offense. When the two sides went into a media break halfway through the first quarter, Belmont hadn’t scored in more than four minutes, while the Lady Lions hadn’t scored in more than two.

Out of the break, Belmont finally scored on a layup. Makenna Marisa answered two possessions later with two points of her own, though Tessa Miller hit two free throws the next time Belmont got the ball.

Marisa recorded another quick two points with a drive to the rim before a nearly blind layup attempt from Tuti Jones managed to fall. After an offensive foul from Penn State, Kendal Cheesman hit an important three-pointer to take a 14-10 lead with a minute and a half left in the first quarter.

Owusu, taking her third shot of the game with a minute left in the quarter, drilled a three. She was fouled on Penn State’s next possession and hit one free throw to tie the game at 14. Owusu took one more shot before the quarter ended, but it rattled out and the two teams hit the break even.

On Belmont’s first possession of the quarter, Kensley Feltner drew a foul from Shay Ciezki and missed both of her attempts from the line. After a failed possession by Penn State, Emily La Chapell hit a deep two-pointer.

One possession later, McGuff hit a difficult layup and converted on the three-point play after a foul from Owusu. Brigham, taking her first shot of the quarter, answered with a short-range jumper. La Chapell drove to the basket on her next possession and scored two more points for the Bruins.

Driving to the basket, Chanaya Pinto earned a trip to the free throw line, hitting one of her two attempts. Miller extended Belmont’s lead with a mid-range shot, as the Bruins led 23-17 through four minutes of the second quarter.

On Penn State’s next possession, Owusu worked her way under the bucket for two more points, though McGuff did the same on Belmont’s next possession.

Kapinus scored in the next few seconds with a crisp shot from beyond the arc before conceding a foul just after. Out of a media timeout, McGuff hit one of her two shots from the line.

La Chapell scored four points in quick order to give the Bruins an eight-point lead with under three minutes left in the quarter, but Oden’s two-point jumper trimmed that advantage.

As the shot clock ticked down, Moriah Murray hit her first shot attempt of the game for three points. With one minute left, Miller and Oden traded two-point makes. Thirty seconds later, Kylie Lavelle came up with a huge block that gave Penn State possession with the shot clock nearly turned off.

Down three, Penn State couldn’t find an answer under the rim for its last possession, and La Chapell’s prayer of a half-court shot fell in the paint. Penn State and Belmont hit the locker rooms with the Bruins leading 32-29.

Immediately out of halftime, Ciezki scored her first points with a corner three to tie the game. Owusu then scored another two points for Penn State’s first lead in five minutes before hitting another layup to take a four-point lead.

Scoring Belmont’s first points of the half, Schoenwald hit her own corner three. Miller followed that with a free throw to tie the game at 36-36 on the Bruins’ next possession. Belmont stayed hot with another three from Schoenwald after that.

Owusu broke the Bruins’ seven-point run with a layup and Marisa hit a mid-range jumper to retake the lead for Penn State. A free throw from Oden added to Penn State’s total after a media timeout.

La Chapell and Oden traded buckets, with La Chapell hitting a jumper and Oden converting on a three-point play. Kapinus then extended Penn State’s lead to five points with a jumper before forcing an offensive foul seconds later.

Owusu continued the Lady Lions’ hot streak with a put-back shot for two more points, and with 2:20 left in the third quarter, Penn State had a 48-41 lead and forced Belmont to call timeout.

McGuff took two shots just out of the break and hit both of them. Marisa, a few possessions later, hit a three-pointer before McGuff scored two more points from a layup.

Down six points, Belmont couldn’t convert on its final possession of the third quarter and Kapinus’ dash down the court with five seconds left didn’t succeed either, as Penn State led 51-45 with 10 minutes left.

Neither team scored in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but Marisa borough that drought with a two-point jumper. Marisa then gave up a foul to McGuff, who converted on a three-point play.

Kapinus hit two free throws before Schoenwald hit another three-pointer. After Grace Hall failed to drive to the rim on Penn State’s next possession, head coach Carolyn Kieger called a timeout.

Out of the break, Marisa knocked down her shot from beyond the arc with the shot clock ticking down before Owusu forced her way to a layup.

La Chapell did the same as Owusu on the other end, though Marisa got two points back for Penn State from the charity stripe.

Miller hit her layup on Belmont’s next possession before Jones hit a corner three. Oden and McGuff traded blows, as McGuff hit a three-pointer to respond to Oden’s two-pointer jumper.

Pinto doubled Penn State’s lead with just over two minutes left in the game, hitting a corner three before she added to that total with a drive to the rim. McGuff hit a layup on the following possession before the Bruins, down six with 1:50 left, called timeout.

Penn State called a timeout seconds later, as Belmont played tight defense in front of Kieger.

The Lady Lions did a good job of holding on to the ball during their possessions, though Miller’s layup still made it a two-score game with 40 seconds left. When Pinto hit one free throw, Belmont called another timeout with 28.3 seconds left.

After the timeout, Miller made and missed one free throw. Marisa converted on both of hers, giving the Lady Lions a six-point advantage. With 14 seconds left, Kapinus rebounded a missed Belmont shot and earned a trip to the free throw line, giving Penn State an eight-point lead.

After Belmont missed its last shot, Penn State’s 74-66 win and advancement to the WBIT quarterfinals were secured.

Takeaways

  • After nearly losing to George Mason a few days ago, Penn State looked much better against Belmont. The Lady Lions took over the game much earlier and, while sometimes in dogfights with Belmont, seemed to be in control when needed.
  • Once again, Owusu was the best player on the court. She was a consistent shooter, hitting seven of her 15 field goal attempts, and adding three assists to go with her 16 points in the win.
  • Belmont never quit on the game, and Penn State didn’t either. Instead of allowing the Bruins to retake a lead late in the game, Penn State stayed on top and avoided a comeback. After Belmont pulled the score back to within three points with a few minutes left, the Lady Lions managed to pull away for the eight-point win.

What’s Next?

The Lady Lions will remain at home to take on No. 2 seed Mississippi State at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, in the quarterfinals of the WBIT. The game will air on ESPN+.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and an associate editor at Onward State. He covers Penn State football and enjoys yelling on Twitter about Philadelphia/Penn State sports. He also listens to Mac Miller more than you. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Please send all positive affirmations and/or hate mail toward him on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email ([email protected]).

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