Penn State women's basketball guard Shay Hagans (23) dribbles basketball against Youngstown State

Penn State women's basketball guard Shay Hagans (23) runs the ball down the court at the game against Youngstown State on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa.

Like many other teams across the country, Penn State was forced to halt play due to coronavirus issues in the program.

The pause postponed several matchups and even canceled a potential game against Towson that was scheduled for Dec. 22.

Penn State’s last game before its break came in a road win against Duquesne back on Dec. 18 and finally came to an end when the blue and white traveled to take on then-No. 10-ranked Maryland on Jan. 6.

The Lady Lions have played in two games since returning to action, both of which resulted in blowout losses.

Their matchup against the Terrapins ended in a 106-78 defeat and a few days later, in their first home game in over a month, the Lady Lions lost 74-57 against No. 11 Michigan.

Both games saw the Lady Lions get off to slow starts, which ruined any potential chance for a comeback later in the game.

Maryland opened the game on a 10-2 run and never looked back, and Michigan went on a 10-0 run of their own to start Thursday night's affair.

Penn State coach Carolyn Kieger mentioned that dealing with the coronavirus is not just something that this program has to deal with and all they can do is battle through it.

“Everyone in the world’s been impacted and so us no more than anyone else,” Kieger said. “But you have to control what you can control and I think our team's done a great job keeping their heads and sticking together and fighting through this, it's not easy. We've become stronger because of it.”

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While the Lady Lions had been dealt with the misfortune of facing two ranked teams in a row coming off the break, it’s clear there was some rust to shake off upon the teams return to the court.

In both losses, only three players scored in double figures, and the only instance in which a player scored over 20 points came from junior guard Makenna Marisa during the Maryland game where she had 29.

Marisa emphasized what Kieger stated, as these are issues several other teams have dealt with and the program is doing the best they can to bounce back from it.

“Like Coach Kiegs said, I think the team is handling it very well,” Marisa said. “We're working hard in practice getting back into things. Of course the whole country is affected by it right now so like Coach Kiegs said, it's no different than everyone else.”

One positive the Lady Lions can focus on heading forward is they’ve ended games out strong.

While Penn State’s field-goal percentage starts out rough, in both games the team’s shooting percentage in the fourth quarter is the best of the bunch.

Against Maryland, the Lady Lions shot 66 percent from the field in the fourth quarter and was even the only quarter they outscored the Terrapins.

While it wasn’t as big of a difference against Michigan, the Lady Lions still shot 41 percent in the fourth quarter and was also the only quarter they outscored their opponent.

Despite the start of games not going the way the Lady Lions want, there are still positives that could give fans hope headed into Penn State’s next matchup, as it hosts Illinois at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday.

Another one of those positives according to Kieger? Resilience.

“It felt really good to be back home, it's been a long 25 days for us,” Kieger said. “Really proud of our team's resilience and fighting through the last 25 days.

“Obviously we need to continue to get better and get ourselves back into continuity and get back in shape a little bit but I thought we showed some spurts tonight, some fight, some resilience and I'm excited to just keep getting better.”

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