Blue White Illustrated

February 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 40 of 67

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 2 41 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M WOMEN'S BASKETBALL P enn State couldn't have asked for a much tougher draw coming out of an unexpectedly long holiday break. The Lady Lions' nonconference game Dec. 22 against Towson had been can- celed due to COVID-19, and Big Ten games against Iowa and Ohio State had to be postponed. That meant Penn State's first game of 2022 — and its first game after an 18-day layoff — would be against 10th-ranked Maryland on Jan. 6. Its second game would be against 11th-ranked Michigan on Jan. 13. Those games did not go well, with the Terrapins romping to a 106-78 win in College Park and the Wolverines roll- ing 74-57 at the Bryce Jordan Center. The scores were a reminder that coach Carolyn Kieger's rebuilding project still has a long way to go. But a necessary step in any rebuild is to take advantage of opportunities when the schedule lightens up, and the Lady Lions have, for the most part, done that. After the losses to Maryland and Michigan, they rebounded with victo- ries over Illinois and Northwestern. In their 90-72 win against the Illini on Jan. 16, the Lady Lions jumped all over the struggling Illini, building a 10-point lead by the end of the first quarter and extending it to 19 points late in the sec- ond quarter. Junior guard Makenna Marisa led the way for PSU, totaling 25 points and add- ing 10 assists. "I thought that was one of the best first halves of basketball that we've played in a really long time," Kieger said afterward. "I thought the team did a great job of sharing the ball today. "Our first-half energy on defense [was excellent] — we were flying around. There were a lot of tips and de- flections, a lot of stuff to build upon." Penn State did build on it four nights later with a 63-59 win in Evanston. Marisa scored 20 points, thanks largely to a 10-for-10 performance from the foul line, and her composure helped the Lady Lions pull away from Northwest- ern in the final minute of a back-and- forth game. Redshirt freshman guard Leilani Kapinus had broken a 54-54 tie with a steal and a three-point play after be- ing fouled on a layup. With just over a minute to play, the Wildcats were forced to foul, and Marisa went 6-for-6 from the free throw line the rest of the way to secure the victory for the visitors. But this was one victory that the Lady Lions weren't able to build upon. In its visit to Wisconsin on Jan. 23, Penn State got 26 points from Marisa, 10 from Kapinus and only 21 from the other six players who saw action. Af- ter taking a six-point lead in the first quarter, PSU was outscored in each of the next three and fell, 69-57, to a Wis- consin team that had won just one of its first seven Big Ten games. Amid the season's ups and downs, two bright spots have been Marisa and Kapinus. Through Penn State's first 17 games, Marisa was the Big Ten's second-leading scorer, averaging 21.8 points per game. Kapinus, meanwhile, has seen her playing time steadily increase. The Madison, Wis., native had been forced to sit out the 2020-21 season with an ACL injury and was averaging only about 20 minutes per game through the first month of the current campaign. But her role increased with the start of the Big Ten season, and she had scored in double figures in six of the seven games leading up to Penn State's game against Iowa on Jan. 25. "Hopefully, everyone is seeing how quickly she's developing," said Kieger, whose team was 9-8 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play. "From the beginning of the year to where she is now, it's light years." ■ Through Penn State's first 17 games, junior guard Makenna Marisa was second in the Big Ten in scoring at 21.8 points per game. PHOTO COURTESY PENN STATE ATHLETICS Guards Help PSU Weather Season's Upheaval M AT T H E R B | M A T T @ B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M 2 0 2 1 - 2 2 W O M E N ' S B A S K E T B A L L S C H E D U L E Date Opponent Result/Time (ET) Nov. 9 Long Island W, 85-66 Nov. 11 Rider W, 83-69 Nov. 16 Delaware State W, 120-51 Nov. 21 at Clemson L, 67-64 Nov. 26 St. John's* W, 80-75 Nov. 27 Iowa State* L, 93-59 Nov. 28 Kent State* L, 81-74 Dec. 2 at Boston College L, 86-69 Dec. 6 at Indiana L, 70-40 Dec. 9 Rutgers W, 52-48 Dec. 12 Youngstown State W, 78-58 Dec. 18 at Duquesne W, 68-60 Dec. 22 Towson Canceled Jan. 6 at Maryland L, 106-78 Jan. 13 Michigan L, 74-57 Jan. 16 Illinois W, 90-72 Jan. 20 at Northwestern W, 63-59 Jan. 23 at Wisconsin L, 69-57 Jan. 25 Iowa (BTN) 6 p.m. Jan. 27 Michigan State 7 p.m. Jan. 30 Maryland 2 p.m. Feb. 3 at Nebraska (BTN) 8 p.m. Feb. 6 Northwestern 2 p.m. Feb. 9 at Purdue 8 p.m. Feb. 13 at Rutgers 2 p.m. Feb. 17 Nebraska 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at Michigan State (BTN) 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at Ohio State 6 p.m. Feb. 27 Minnesota TBA March 3-6 Big Ten Tournament TBA * Gulf Coast Showcase at Estero, Fla.

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