College Hoops

Penn State’s rally falls short in WBIT semifinal loss to Villanova

Penn State’s rally falls short in WBIT semifinal loss to Villanova

Despite a heroic effort by Leilani Kapinus, Penn State was unable to keep its women’s basketball season going for one more game. The Lady Lions fell to Villanova in a seminal matchup in the Women’s Basketball Invitational tournament in Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Monday afternoon. Penn State’s 58-53 loss to the Wildcats brought a tough ending to a season in which the program took some big steps forward overall.

Kapinus led the Lady Lions with 18 points in a defensive battle with Villanova. The Wildcats had three players score in double figures for a much more balanced offensive attack, led by a 21-point effort by Lucy Olsen. Kapinus nearly brought Penn State all the way back in the fourth quarter alone, but she received a helping hand from Ashley Owusu as well. Owusu hit a three-point shot with five seconds remaining in the game to bring the Nittany Lions to within three points.

Villanova outscored Penn State by one point in each of the first two quarters of the semifinal matchup to hold a two-point lead at halftime. The Wildcats created some separation after halftime with a 17-9 advantage on the scoreboard in the third quarter. Penn State chipped away in the fourth quarter and outscored Villanova by five points, but it was just enough of a hole that was too big to climb out of for the Lady Lions.

Penn State’s season ends with a 22-13 record, an improvement of 8 wins from the previous season. ending the season with a loss will be tough to take, but the Lady Lions have improved their win total each of the last few seasons and the program does appear to be heading in a positive direction once again, which should bring some sense of optimism for the 2024-25 season.

Villanova will now get a chance to play for the first WBIT championship in NCAA history. The Wildcats will face the winner of Monday’s other semifinal matchup between Illinois and Washington State. The WBIT championship will be played on Wednesday evening. There is no third-place game.

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