Lady Lions Down Charlotte in a Thriller, 73-67

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Nov. 10, 2007

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Junior guard Brianne O'Rourke (Pittsburgh, Pa.) converted on an old-fashioned three-point play with 1:23 left in the game to lift the Lady Lions to a thrilling 72-67 victory over Charlotte Saturday on the second day of the WBCA Classic at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Trailing by a point, O'Rourke connected on a jumper just above the free throw line as she fell to the floor after being fouled. She drained the ensuing free throw to put the Lady Lions up for good at 67-65 with 1:23 on the clock. After Rashida Mark (Brooklyn, N.Y.) split a pair of free throws, Charlotte's Sabrina Gregory made an uncontested lay-up to make it a one-point game (68-67) with 44 seconds left. With the shot clock winding down on PSU's next possession, Tyra Grant (Youngstown, Ohio) rippled the net from three-point range to seal the win for the Lady Lions. Mark converted on a pair of free throws for the final margin.

The Lady Lions shot 59.1% from the field in the second half and 51.9% in the game to post their second win in as many days. Mark registered her first career double-double with career highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds. She was 6-for-9 from the field and 6-for-8 from the charity stripe. O'Rourke also established a career high with 18 points of her own to go along with six assists and two steals. Mashea Williams (Erie, Pa.), Kam Gissendanner (Clairton, Pa.) and Grant finished with nine points apiece. Gissendanner blocked a career-best three shots.

It was a see-saw battle in the early going with Gissendanner (7 pts.) and Janessa Wolff (Park Rapids, Minn.) (5) scoring Penn State's first 12 points of the game, but Charlotte held the early lead at 13-12 just over seven minutes into the game. The 49ers then went on a 7-0 run over the next two minutes to build an eight-point lead (20-12).

Charlotte held the Lady Lions in check until Mashea Williams (Erie, Pa.), O'Rourke and Grant scored three consecutive baskets to slice the deficit to just one point at 22-21 with 8:12 left in the opening frame. The two squads continued to exchange baskets for the remainder of the half with neither team taking a lead larger than three points. O'Rourke's jumper in the lane gave the Lady Lions a three-point lead with just under a minute remaining, but a three-point play by Danielle Burgin sent the teams into the locker room tied at 37-37.

O'Rourke had an impressive first half with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and four assists, while Gissendanner added nine tallies and five rebounds. Mark had a solid first half on the block with four points and eight rebounds. The 49ers dominated the offensive boards with 14 caroms on the offensive end, but the Lady Lions held the overall advantage, 24-22, in the period.

Mark gave the Lady Lions lead early in the second half with a step-around basket in the lane, but Charlotte quickly answered with fastbreak lay-up by Sabrina Gregory off of a defensive rebound. Julia Trogele (Devon, Pa.) drained a deep two-pointer and made a nifty curl move around the defender to give Penn State a three-point lead at 43-40 with 17:07 left in the game.

A jumper by Williams moved the Blue & White lead to five points at 46-41 with just over 16 minutes on the clock, but a Traci Ray rainbow three-pointer brought the 49ers back within two tallies. A pair of Williams free throws sparked a 7-0 run for the Lady Lions, which included a Mark jumper in the lane and an O'Rourke shot from downtown, to lengthen the lead to nine points with 13:56 left in the game.

After a Charlotte basket, Grant thrilled the crowd with an up-and-under finger roll from eight feet to bring the lead back to nine. Burgin made one of two free throws on the ensuring possession and Erin Floyd registered a steal and converted on the lay-up to slice the PSU lead to six points.

An offensive rebound by the 49ers led to an easy put-back for Burgin and two free throws by Wendy Stywalt made the Penn State advantage just three (56-53) with 9:24 remaining. Following a Mark offensive rebound and put-back, Charlotte went on a 5-0 run to knot the game at 58-58 with less than eight minutes left to play.

Following a 30-second Penn State timeout, the Lady Lions reassumed the lead at 60-58 on an O'Rourke lay-up. Gregory tied the game at 60-60 with a high-arcing shot from 17 feet, but PSU quickly responded as a driving Mark tossed the ball into the net for her career-high 13th point of the day. Ashley Spriggs split a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game (62-61) and the 49ers appeared to be in position to assume the lead with 4:51 left, but Mark drew the offensive foul from Burgin.

O'Rourke missed the front-end of a one-and-one with 3:46 on the clock and Charlotte took advantage as Spriggs laid the ball in to give the 49ers at 63-62 lead. However, the Lady Lions were not through as Mark scored to regain the lead, but UNCC immediately responded with another lay-up by Spriggs to take a 65-64 advantage with 2:11 remaining. But O'Rourke's heroics and Grant's clutch three-pointer allowed the Lady Lions to take home the win.

The Lady Lions continue action in the WBCA/Basketball Travelers Classic against Charlotte at 6:30 p.m., tomorrow at the Bryce Jordan Center. Penn State rounds out the WBCA Classic when they face in-state rival Pittsburgh on Sunday at 4 p.m., in the first-ever Big Ten Network women's basketball telecast.

This season, Penn State introduces a new seven-game Lady Lion Flex Plan package where fans will receive a ticket to the Duke (Sun., Dec. 2) and Georgetown (Sun., Dec. 9) games and the second annual THINK PINK Day versus Iowa (Sun., Feb. 10), as well as four flex vouchers to redeem in any ticket combination for Big Ten games. Fans can purchase single-game tickets or flex plan packages by visiting the Bryce Jordan Center box office, calling 814-865-5555 or 800-863-3336 or by clicking on the ticket link on

GAME NOTES: Rashida Mark scored a career-high in points with 18. (Previous high was 11 vs. Iowa 1-28-07)...Mark played a career-high 30 minutes...Kam Gissendanner had a career-high in blocks with 3. (Previous high of 2 came against Alabama A&M 12-19-05)...Brianne O'Rourke scored a career-high in points with 18. (Previous high came against Ohio State 2-26-06)...Mark had a career-high in rebounds with 12. (Previous high of 11 came against Wisconsin 2-16-06).




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