(5) Virginia Tech 48

(23-8, 10-6 Big East)

(1) Penn State 61

(27-5, 15-1 Big Ten)

    7:00 PM ET, March 23, 2004

    Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Virginia

    Mazzante shoots poorly, but Lady Lions win

    BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Tanisha Wright is known mostly as a two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year. She can score like crazy, too.

    Wright made up for fellow All-American Kelly Mazzante's poor game by scoring 26 of Penn State's first 36 points Tuesday night. The top seeds beat Virginia Tech 61-48 to reach the third round of the NCAA tournament.

    "We just needed someone to step up at times," Wright said of matching her career high of 28 points, nearly doubling her average of 14.5. "I'm always looking for my shot and it just happened tonight that it was going in."

    Mazzante was selected a first-team All-American and Wright received honorable mention earlier in the day, but Wright and Jess Strom did the damage as the Hokies held Mazzante to nine points and 4-of-16 shooting.

    "These two over here really carried us," Mazzante said.

    Strom scored 12 of her 17 points in the second half, including 10 in a 20-4 run that gave the Lady Lions control and caused Tech to stumble.

    "T' was really scoring and they had to focus on her a lot, and you always have to focus on Kelly," Strom said. "When people lay off me, that's my chance to score and I just looked for it tonight."

    Penn State (27-5) earned its third straight trip to the round of 16 with the victory on the Hokies' floor. The Lady Lions move on to Hartford, Conn., next week.

    The Lady Lions are the top seed in the East Regional, but two-time defending champion Connecticut is No. 2 and playing close to home.

    The Hokies (23-8) also seemed like an imposing hurdle for a top seed, especially with a crowd of 7,128 on hand. But the Lady Lions' run took the crowd out of it.

    The Hokies helped a lot too, coach Bonnie Henrickson said, by playing tentatively, making too many passes and failing to run their offense.

    "We just had too many kids that played minutes that just didn't bring anything to the table at either end," Henrickson said after Virginia Tech lost for the fourth time in its last five trips to the second round.

    The Hokies seemed to tighten up as the Lady Lions asserted themselves. Tech had 12 of its 16 turnovers in the second half and shot 6-for-20.

    "We weren't able to answer. We weren't taking care of the ball," said sophomore Carrie Mason, who led the Hokies with 16 points. "They were getting open 3s and layups, and you really can't defend that."

    Wright had 17 of Penn State's 25 first-half points and nine of its first 11 in the second half, scoring on an assortment of drives and pull-up jumpers. The last four sparked the huge run and made it seem not to matter that Mazzante was struggling.

    Lost in the excitement of the game, Penn State coach Rene Portland said, was Strom joining the 1,000-point club for the Lady Lions.

    Henrickson disagreed with an assertion the Hokies wore out more than the Lady Lions, but said she saw something that was probably worse.

    "They fought fatigue better than we did. Our kids got brain tired and let it happen," she said. "They're not in any better shape than we are, but they're tougher between the ears and that's what's disappointing."

    Ieva Kublina added 15 points for the Hokies in her final game.

    The Hokies made just 18 of 50 shots (36 percent).

    The teams traded rare baskets for the first 15 minutes, with Penn State using a 9-3 run to take a 20-17 lead with 6:37 left. The Hokies, sparked by Erin Gibson's basket inside, then scored 11 of the last 16 in the half.

    Included was a 3-pointer by Kublina, her first basket since very early that had her pumping her fist as it dropped, and a block on Wright by Kerri Gardin as the shot clock ran down, then a layup at the other end.

    Wright was 7-for-9 in the first half. Her teammates were 3-for-20.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 48 61
    FG Made-Attempted 18-44 (.409) 25-55 (.455)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-6 (.667) 3-15 (.200)
    FT Made-Attempted 8-12 (.667) 8-9 (.889)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 12 (0/0) 12 (0/0)

    Game Leaders

    PointsC. Mason 15T. Wright 26
    ReboundsI. Kublina 7T. Wright 6


    » Mar 23, 2004 @PSU 61, VT 48Recap | Box Score