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Lady Lions Down No. 15 Ohio State 69-67 For Massive Upset Victory

Penn State women’s basketball (9-11, 6-10 Big Ten) took down No. 15 Ohio State (13-5, 9-5 Big Ten) 69-67 Wednesday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center. The upset marks the first victory over a top 15 team for the Lady Lions in five years, and the first triumph over the Buckeyes since 2014.

After trailing 15-2 early in the first quarter, the Lady Lions exploded in the half’s final 15 minutes to take a slim 31-30 advantage entering the locker room. Despite giving up several spirited runs at the hands of the talented Buckeyes, Penn State was able to regain the lead with 1:01 remaining to capture the two-point upset.

Guard Niya Beverley had a career scoring day for the Lady Lions, as the senior exploded for 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting. Additionally, floor-general Makenna Marisa added 17 points of her own, coupled with eight assists.

How It Happened

Ohio State controlled the opening possession from the tip-off and powered its way into the low post for an easy opening lay-up. The Buckeyes turned the instant basket into an early 8-0 run catapulted by several sloppy Penn State possessions, forcing a hot-tempered Carolyn Kieger timeout just over two minutes into the contest.

Following the stoppage, star Lady Lion forward Johnasia Cash powered her way into the low block with a savvy drop-step to put Penn State on the board. Despite the quick change in momentum, Ohio State continued to push the pace and disrupt Kieger’s defensive identity by extending the lead to a 15-2 mark.

At the opening quarter’s halfway point, Makenna Marisa kickstarted the Penn State offensive attack to cut the deficit to 11 points. The shot propelled the home team to a fantastic defensive possession on the other end by forcing a shot clock violation in the half-court.

Several stout defensive stops late in the quarter were key in helping the Lady Lions climb over the early deficit. In the final two minutes of play, Penn State forced a flurry of turnovers, which led to an array of scoring opportunities to close out the opening 10 minutes. With 13 seconds remaining, Maddie Burke nailed an enormous corner three-pointer to cut the Buckeye advantage to 18-13.

Penn State began the second period right where it left off by instantly attacking the hole. Two quick takes by Marisa and Niya Beverley helped the Lady Lions cut the Ohio State lead to just three-points. On the following offensive set, guard Tova Sabel buried a deep three-ball from the left wing to tie the game at 20-a-piece.

Steady defensive by both squads towards the midway of the second quarter set the tone for the remainder of the quarter. After both teams scored a combined four points in over a three minute span, Marisa’s elite court vision found Beverley slashing to the rim for an easy lay-in. The effortless conversion helped Penn State take its first lead of the game at 24-22.

With just over three minutes remaining in the half, visiting guard Aaaiyah Patty converted a difficult floater in traffic to dissipate the Penn State lead. Her score led to a second-straight Buckeye baseket, and a 6-0 run, contributing to the second lead change of the matchup.

In timely fashion, the emerging Beverley finished the half with five-straight points for Penn State, which swung the Lady Lions back into the driver’s seat. The home team entered the locker room up 31-30, despite beginning the contest down by as many as 13 points.

To begin the third quarter, both squads traded well-executed baskets for the opening four points of the second half. Penn State converted on a smooth pick-and-roll from Marisa to Cash inside for an easy two, while the Buckeyes diced the Lady Lions’ soft full-court pressure for a transition bucket.

Several consecutive fundamentally-sound possessions by the two conference foes kept the Penn State lead steady at a one-point, 37-36 margin nearly four minutes into the quarter. Following a TV timeout nearing the midway point, Ohio State roared out to a four-point lead sparked by a Kateri Poole three-point jumper to put the ranked squad back in-front 41-37.

The Lady Lions weathered the storm in a poised manner by responding with a 5-0 run of their own. On the first conversion, Marisa fed her reliable forward, Johnasia Cash, for another low-post basket to cut into Ohio State’s comeback attempt. The next possession, Beverley found an open Tova Sabel for a clutch three-pointer to re-establish a 44-43 lead.

Soon-after Penn State regained the lead, Ohio State bounced back with a 6-2 run of its own to go back up by three points. As Kieger’s squad did all afternoon, the Lady Lions responded with a season-defining sequence, as Shay Hagans picked Jacy Sheldon’s pocket leading to a game-tying Beverley three-pointer with 1:39 remaining in the third. Despite the series, Sheldon countered with a steal of her own to help the Buckeyes hold a 52-51 lead at the frenzied quarter’s end.

After Ohio State began the fourth period on a controlling 5-0 run, Cash answered with two-straight five-foot conversions to close the deficit to two points. On the defensive end, Anna Camden slid into the lane to take a spirited charge, leading to a Marisa free-throw on the other end. The 1-for-2 effort from the line closed the Buckeye-led margin to 57-56.

On the offensive end, Cash continued work her magic by scoring on yet another dominant post move, leaving the Buckeye front without answers. The next possession, Sheldon took and made a quick-trigger tree-point to extend Ohio State’s lead to five with just over five minutes left to play.

As the back-and-forth track-meet styled matchup continued, Beverley clutched another contorting floater off the glass to cut the disadvantage to one score. With just under four minutes remaining, Cash hit a desperation corner fade-away jumper to keep Ohio State’s on its heels at a 65-64 advantage.

Penn State continued to work on the defensive end, as Hagans came up with her second steal of the game underneath the basket on the next series. The huge takeaway led to yet another Beverley three-pointer, which helped Penn State re-take a 67-65 lead with 3:17 left.

After Poole tied the game at 67 with two free-throws for Ohio State, Marisa came up clutch for the Lady Lions with a one-on-one drive and score with 1:01 to spare in the contest. On the other end, Penn State forced its biggest turnover of the season to regain possession with nearly 40 ticks remaining.

The Lady Lions’ final offensive possession resulted in a forced Hagans airball from beyond the arc, leaving Ohio State with the final shot following a timeout with 2.3 seconds left. Tremendous out of bounds defense for the Lady Lions left the Buckeyes without a look in the final seconds, contributing to a 69-67 upset victory over the nationally ranked squad.

Takeaways

  • Despite trailing 15-2 in the first four minutes of play, the Lady Lions regained composure by outscoring the Buckeyes 29-15 in the final 15 minutes of the first half. The stretch was mounted by several superb defensive stops, which helped the Lady Lions re-gain control of their reckless, fast-paced attack.
  • Carolyn Kieger’s squad is stocked with selfless teammates who aren’t afraid to play their roles. In limited action, freshman forward Nan Garcia snagged four rebounds and tallied a crucial assist to help Penn State climb back into the game after an early scare. Additionally, freshmen shooters Maddie Burke and Tova Sabel combined for three massive three-pointers to help burden the load squad’s star players. Kieger has built a roster of players who truly fit her identity of team-centric basketball.
  • Makenna Marisa is simply clutch. With 1:01 remaining in the contest, the Pittsburgh native called game with a clutch isolation dribble-drive move to catapult the Lady Lions to a two-point lead. The home squad never looked back, and was able to finish off its biggest upset victory in several seasons.

What’s Next

The Lady Lions will play their second consecutive home matchup against Rutgers on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff from the Bryce Jordan Center is set for 12:30 p.m.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a freshman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania majoring in journalism. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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