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Nittany Lions top Golden Gophers

MINNEAPOLIS – A strong second half and a total team effort led the Penn State women’s basketball team to its first road win at Minnesota in nearly nine years as the Lady Lions took down the Gophers 69-60 Sunday evening in Big Ten action at Williams Arena.

Penn State picked up its first win in Minneapolis since Feb. 5, 2012 and the Lady Lions earned their first conference victory of the season.

Graduate transfer Kelly Jekot led the team with 15 points. Senior Johnasia Cash recorded her second-straight double-double with 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Freshman Maddie Burke rounded out the double-digit scoring with 13 points.

HOW IT HAPPENED

A back-and-forth first quarter saw two tie scores and three lead changes as neither team led by more than two. The Penn State defense held the Gophers to a 31 percent (5-for-16) mark in the term and senior Niya Beverley drilled a three-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to put the Lady Lions ahead 15-14.

Minnesota made the first basket of the second quarter, but Burke followed with back-to-back three-pointers and Cash added a pair of free throws to comprise an 8-0 run that put Penn State on top 23-16. The Gophers clawed back with a 15-3 run over the next 4:14 that gave Minnesota a 31-26 edge with 3:19 left in the first half.

Two more points from Burke were followed a three-pointer from freshman Tova Sabel as a quick 5-0 Penn State run knotted the score at 31-all. The Gophers ended the half with a pair of free throws to take a 34-33 edge into the break.

Five points from Jekot and five from sophomore Makenna Marisa helped Penn State kick off its strong third quarter with a quick 10-2 run that put the Lady Lions in front 43-36 less than two minutes into the stanza. Penn State’s defense stepped up to hold the Gophers to just four third-quarter field goals and Beverley put the cherry on top of the strong quarter as she ended it the same way she ended the first, with a last-second three-pointer that gave Penn State a 54-44 lead.

Strong free throw shooting sealed the deal for Penn State in the fourth quarter, as the Lady Lions went 10-for-12 from the charity stripe. Minnesota never got closer than eight as Penn State picked up the 69-60 road victory for its first Big Ten win of the season.

KEY NOTES

Penn State earned its first win at Minnesota since Feb. 5, 2012 when the Lady Lions defeated the Gophers 68-65 on the road.

Penn State picks up its first win of conference play and first road victory of the season.

The Lady Lions snapped a six-game losing streak to the Gophers.

The Lady Lions’ recorded their best defensive effort of Big Ten play, holding the Gophers to just 60 points and a 31.3 percent (20-for-64) mark from the field.

Cash recorded her 700th career rebound at the 8:30 mark of the second quarter with her fifth board of the game. She registered 636 of her rebounds during her three years at SMU.

Cash’s double-double was her second-straight and third of the season. Cash and Jekot are now tied for the team lead with three double-doubles on the season. Burke notched the second double-digit scoring game of her career.

FROM THE SOURCE–Head Coach Carolyn Kieger

“A total team effort and 24 points of the bench. I thought our bench was phenomenal. Not only by their production, but also how they were with their JUICE on the bench. I thought that was the best chemistry we had all year and it obviously showed.”

“Getting your first Big Ten win on the road is huge. Extra special when it’s in my hometown, which is awesome. Very thankful for the team and how they performed today and stepped up.”

“Johnasia Cash with back-to-back awesome performances. If we can keep her rolling and keep her in the game, she’s going to be a difference maker for us.”

UP NEXT

Penn State will have a bye from mid-week action, and the Lady Lions will return to the court Sunday, Jan. 17 when PSU hosts #22 Northwestern inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

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