Lady Lions Upset No. 20 Pitt to Capture WBCA Classic Crown
Nov. 11, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. -- The Lady Lions connected on 82.9% (34-of-41) of their free throws on the way to an 80-74 upset win over No. 20/21 Pittsburgh to claim the WBCA Classic championship at the Bryce Jordan Center Sunday afternoon. Penn State is now 16-1 all-time against the Panthers in Happy Valley and 26-12 all-time.
Junior guard Brianne O'Rourke (Pittsburgh, Pa.) was selected as the Tournament MVP after averaging 14.7 points and 6.3 assists per game, while Mashea Williams (Erie, Pa.) and Tyra Grant (Youngstown, Ohio) were named to the All-Tournament team. Joining the Penn State trio on the All-Tournament team were Pittsburgh's Shavonte Zellous and Jania Sims and Arizona's Ashley Whisonant.
On Sunday, Grant was 8-for-12 from the field and finished with a game-high 19 points to lead five Lady Lions in double figures. Williams added 16 points and eight rebounds and Kam Gissendanner (Clairton, Pa.) chipped in 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Freshman Janessa Wolff (Park Rapids, Minn.) registered her first career double-digit scoring performance with 14 points and eight rebounds. O'Rourke registered her third consecutive double figure performance to start the season with 10 tallies and five assists.
The two teams played an evenly matched first half, but it was Wolff's seven points and four rebounds off the bench that sparked the Lady Lions to a 31-26 lead at the break. One of the turning points in the first half was the ability of the Lady Lions to force Panther standout Marcedes Walker into three fouls within the first 13 minutes of the game. Gissendanner and Grant also accounted for eight points apiece in the opening frame.
Williams gave the Lady Lions a seven-point cushion in the early going of the second period, but Pitt responded with a 10-2 run to assume the lead at 36-35 15:25 on a Walker hook shot. The teams exchanged the lead after a tough lay-up by Grant and basket by Zellous before Wolff drew the fourth foul Walker and connected on both free throws to make it 39-38 Penn State with 14:04 on the clock.
Williams made a pair of clutch baskets, a jumper from 15 feet and a three-pointer from the corner, with the shot clock winding down to make it a 44-40 game with just over 12 minutes remaining in the contest. A pair of Wolff free throws extended the lead to six points (46-40), but Mallory Winn drained a three-pointer for the Panthers to move within three with just over 10 minutes to play.
A fantastic entry pass by Gissendanner led to an easy lay-in for Grant, but a deep three-pointer by Xenia Stewart sliced the Penn State lead back to two points at 48-46. The momentum seemed to swing in favor of the Lady Lions when Williams converted on a three-point play with just over nine minutes left, but Winn responded with a lay-up of her own to make it a 51-48 game. Grant drove through the lane to force a three-point play and make it 54-48 with 8:29 on the clock.
A lay-up by Grant, sandwiched by a Walker offensive rebound and put-back and a three-pointer by Taneisha Harrison made the PSU lead just three points (56-53) with just under eight minutes remaining. Rashida Mark (Brooklyn, N.Y.) moved the lead back to five points with a driving lay-up, but Walker completed an old-fashioned three-point play to move it back to a two-point lead. However, on the ensuing possession, Gissendanner forced Walker to foul out with 6:57 left to play and sunk both free throws to make it a 60-56 lead.
A jumper by Shayla Scott and two free throws by Jania Sims tied the game at 60-60 with nearly five minutes remaining. The Lady Lions responded by going on a 10-2 run to take an eight-point lead (70-62) with 2:40 on the clock. The key play of the run was a steal by O'Rourke, who found under the basket for the lay-up.
The Panthers would get no closer than three points down the stretch and the Lady Lions sealed the win by making 8-of-10 free throws in the closing minute, led by O'Rourke 4-for-4 effort.
The Lady Lions hit the road for the first time this season when they visit Xavier. The game will pit Coquese Washington against her former Notre Dame colleague and current Musketeer head coach Kevin McGuff. The pair were assistant coaches for the Irish for three seasons (1999-02).
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 www.GoPSUsports.com.
GAME NOTES: Coquese Washington is the third Penn State coach to start her PSU career 3-0, joining Marie Litner and Mary Ann Domitrovitz...Janessa Wolff posted her first career double figure scoring performance with 14 points...Kam Gissendanner was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. She is 20-for-20 to open the season from the charity stripe...Brianne O'Rourke became the 12th player in school history to dish out 300 assists in her career.