BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Tanisha Wright is known mostly as a
two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year. She can score like
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
Henrickson disagreed with an assertion the Hokies wore out more
than the Lady Lions, but said she saw something that was probably
"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
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