Lady Lions Take Care of Northwestern
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.— Amari Carter snags the ball from the Northwestern player and races towards the basket. A high arching banked layup falls to start the fourth quarter and cut the Northwestern lead to just 6, giving the Lady Lions a chance at the comeback.
The Northwestern Wildcats (9-12, 2-10) came to Happy Valley to face off against the Lady Lions (14-12, 5-8) on Wednesday in a late-season Big Ten matchup. The Lady Lions needed to win this game to stay in WNIT contention and the Wildcats were only hoping to steal a win and make a rough season a little more palatable.
A game with some ugly periods of basketball had an entertaining fourth quarter that saw the Lady Lion storm back from an eight-point deficit to win the game by a score of 67-59.
Both teams came out of the gates quickly, putting up tons of shots, and also missing many of them. Through the first seven minutes, Northwestern and Penn State shot 17% and 33% from the field respectively.
The Wildcats couldn’t find the bottom of the net in the first quarter, where they went scoreless for more than four and a half minutes, while at the same time the Lady Lions began to heat up. The first quarter ended with the Lady Lions up 15-7 in a period wrought with turnovers and missed shots.
“It felt really good [to get her first start of the year], I was a little nervous to start but later on I settled down,” freshman forward Alisia Smith said about her quick start to the game, in which she scored four quick points.
The second quarter saw more scoring than the first and some much cleaner basketball. Northwestern went on a run in the quarter and cut the lead down to two with two minutes to go and tied the game up at 26, with under 30 seconds left.
Northwestern junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah led the game with 10 points in the first half, all of them coming in the second quarter. Both teams needed to find a way to get the ball in the basket more consistently in the second half, with Penn State shooting 36.7% from the field and Northwestern shooting 34.4%
Penn State comes out for the second half flat and gave up a 7-0 run early in the third quarter. Kunai-Akpanah scored five of the seven in the run for the Wildcats and grabbed two offensive rebounds.
Turnovers continued to cause issues for the Lady Lions. Every time they had an opportunity to narrow the growing gap in the third quarter a costly turnover would cost them. That combined with a Northwestern team that found their shot gave them a 10 point lead eight minutes into the third.
The Lady Lions trailed by as much as 16 in the third but were able to cut it down to 8 by the end of the quarter and gave themselves a chance to make a comeback.
“We, as a group, were lackadaisical and it took us a while to realize we were down. Then, everybody’s mentality changed,” Teniya Page said. “It shouldn’t be like that. We should come out ready to play right away.”
A five-second violation by Northwestern gave the Lady Lions the ball with a chance to take their first lead since early in the third quarter and that’s when sophomore guard Teniya Page hit a long two to take the lead. The Lady Lions went on an 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter to take a three-point lead before Kunaiyi-Akpanah scored her 17th point to end the drought for Northwestern.
Penn State continued to dominate the fourth quarter and went on to end the game with a 67-59 lead. This is the Lady Lion’s 15th win and 10th in the Big Ten. With this win they stay in contention for a WNIT birth.
Page led the way for the Lions scoring 22 points and Siyeh Frazier had three steals and four blocks late in the fourth quarter, where she was a menace to the Wildcat offense.
Patrick Johnsonbaugh is a sophomore print journalism student. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.