Penn State Fails to Hold Late Fourth Quarter Lead, Falls to Illinois

Story posted February 9, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Kurt Seguban

The Lady Lions dropped their ninth straight game Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center against the Fighting Illini of Illinois, falling 70-66.

Illinois was led by junior guard Petra Holesinska, who had 28 points. The Big Ten’s leading scorer, junior guard Kamaria McDaniel led Penn State in points with 23, her tenth 20-plus point game of the season. McDaniel was also 3-4 from three-point land. Freshman guard Shay Hagans was the only other Lady Lion scoring in double digits, with 14.

After freshman forward Anna Camden knocked down a three to give Penn State its first points of the game, the Lady Lions played very sloppy and Illinois went on a 13-0 run that lasted over four minutes. Penn State closed out the quarter strong, forcing Illinois to turn the ball over twice leading to Hagans cashing in with a pair of layups. The Lady Lions cut the score down to five, trailing 17-12 after the first.

The second quarter was a back-and-forth affair. The Lady Lions kept it close to only trail by two at the end of the second, 32-30.

During halftime, Penn State honored 507 breast cancer survivors in the 14th annual Play4Kay game benefitting Pink Zone. Pink Zone promotes cancer awareness and empowers survivors through year-long efforts to raise funds critical in supporting vital breast cancer organizations, charities and facilities that focus on breast cancer education, research, diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

In the third quarter, senior guard Siyeh Frazier received a tech for pushing Illinois’ Petra Holesinska. The Fighting Illini went on a 11-1 run that lasted over six minutes. The Lady Lions went 1-10 in field goals during a span in the third and did not have a field goal during the last 7:45 of the quarter.

McDaniel was hot from three and scored the first points of the fourth for both teams. She then made a layup off a turnover to give the Lady Lions a 56-55 lead. Penn State made its comeback and was 7-8 shooting during that span in the fourth quarter.

There was also a scary moment in the fourth when Hagans went down late in the game. The crowd went silent as she went down but got back up with the help of trainers as she limped back to the locker room. Hagans did not return to the game. Head coach Carolyn Kieger said Hagans was still being evaluated during the postgame press conference.

With four seconds left in the game, coach Kieger called a timeout down by two points. The Lady Lions drew up a play, but freshman guard Makenna Marisa was short on the attempted layup, and the Lady Lions fell in heartbreaking fashion.

"In terms of our team, we have to keep building,” Kieger said. “We have to keep growing. We have to keep teaching. We have to keep getting better. We show moments and we show spurts, but we're not there yet.”

After today’s game, Penn State fell to 1-12 in Big Ten play and 7-17 overall on the season. While Illinois got their second Big Ten win with a record of 2-10 and 11-12 overall.

Next up, the Lady Lions travel to Nebraska to play the Cornhuskers Thursday Night.

Kurt Seguban is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email kqd5765@psu.edu.