Lady Lions' Comeback Falls Short Against No. 23 Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge

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Tyra Grant

Tyra Grant

Dec. 2, 2009

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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The Penn State Lady Lions (5-2) battled a pesky Georgia Tech (5-1) full-court press and staged a late comeback, but a three-point play by Brigitte Ardossi with 1:10 remaining led the 23rd-ranked Yellow Jackets to a 64-60 win over the Lady Lions in the Third Annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Senior guard Tyra Grant (Youngstown, Ohio) had a game-best 20 points for her 28th career 20-point game. She also accounted for seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in the loss.

Freshman Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) had a chance to tie the game with six seconds left, but her jumper in the lane caromed off of the rim and into the hands of Georgia Tech's Sasha Goodlett, who made two free throws to seal the four-point win for Georgia Tech. Bentley had another solid performance for the Lady Lions with 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals in nearly 40 minutes of action.

Fellow freshman Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) continued to impress with six points, five rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. She has blocked at least two shots in each of the Lady Lions' last five games. Junior Julia Trogele (Devon, Pa.) added six points and six rebounds, while Janessa Wolff (Park Rapids, Minn.) pulled down a season-high eight rebounds and blocked a season-best three shots.

The Lady Lions struggled early, going 0-for-7 from the field and turning the ball over three times, which allowed Georgia Tech to take an 11-1 lead four and a half minutes into the game. Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) got Penn State's first basket from the field with a three-pointer and Marisa Wolfe (Ford City, Pa.) converted on an old-fashioned three-point play for a 6-1 run for the Lions to bring Penn State within five points at 12-7 with just less than 14 minutes to play in the half. However, the Yellow Jackets would score the game's next six points to pull ahead by 11 points (18-11).

Grant single-handedly pulled the Lady Lions within striking distance with back-to-back baskets and Gizelle Studevent (La Jolla, Calif.) added a fastbreak layup off of a pass from Bentley to cut the Georgia Tech lead to 18-13 with 9:38 on the clock. The Yellow Jackets would push the lead back nine points with a pair of baskets before Studevent would score her second basket of the game and Renee Womack (Lansdale, Pa.) added one of two free throws the cut the deficit to six points (22-16).

Following a Georgia Tech basket, the Lady Lions went on a 6-2 run thanks to a Grant basket and four points from Bentley to make it a four-point game at 26-22 with four and a half minutes left in the opening frame. Penn State did not score a basket from the field over the final three minutes of the period and the Yellow Jackets closed on a 9-3 run to take a 35-25 lead into the break.

Grant and Bentley each had six points to lead Penn State, while Studevent added four points. Ardossi accounted for eight points and Deja Foster had seven points for the Yellow Jackets.

Greene got Penn State started on the right foot in the second half with a rebound and putback, but Georgia Tech scored the next two baskets of the game to extend their lead to 12 points (39-27) with 17:22 remaining in the game. The Lady Lions bounced back as Womack drained a layup to start a 12-2 run to make it a 41-39 game with just less than 14 minutes to play. During the run, Grant accounted for four points, while Trogele, Bentley and Greene each added two points.

Georgia Tech stopped the Lady Lion run with a basket by Ardossi, but Grant immediately responded with a pair of free throws to keep it at a two-point margin. However, the Yellow Jackets stretched their lead back to eight points (49-41) with a 6-0 spurt with just over 11 minutes to play.

With a raucous crowd on their side, Penn State and Grant began to chip away at the Georgia Tech lead. Grant connected on three of four free throw attempts and added a scoop shot in the lane to bring the Lady Lions within three points at 49-46 with nine and a half. After a stop on the defensive end, the Lady Lions had a chance to move even closer, but turned the ball over on a traveling call. The Yellow Jackets proceeded to score the game's next six points and assume a 53-46 lead with just less than eight minutes remaining.

The lead remained at seven points for the next three minutes until a jumper by Trogele and rebound and putback by Greene cut the Georgia Tech lead to three points (57-54) with 3:11 on the clock. After a jumper by Ardossi, Bentley knocked down two free throws to make it a one-possession game. On the ensuing Georgia Tech possession, the Lady Lions snared the defensive rebound and took the ball up the court where Wolff knocked down a deep jumper to make it a one-point game (59-58) with 1:32 left to play.

Ardossi converted on an old-fashioned three-point play to push the Georgia Tech lead back to four points (62-58), but on Penn State's next possession, Grant hit two free throws with 53 seconds left to pull the Lions within two markers. The Lady Lion defense stood strong and Grant forced Ardossi into a turnover near the baseline on Georgia Tech's end. With six seconds remaining, Bentley drove the lane and took a seven-footer that bounced off the rim and into the hands of Georgia Tech's Goodlett. Goodlett was immediately fouled and made both of her attempts to seal the win for the Yellow Jackets.

GAME NOTES: Junior Tyra Grant recorded her 19th consecutive double-digit scoring game with 20 points...Grant also turned in her second 20-point game of the season and the 28th of her career...Freshman Nikki Greene has had at least two blocks in each of the last five games...Junior Janessa Wolff pulled down a season-high eight rebounds...Freshman Gizelle Studevent tied her career high with four points...The Lady Lions are now 1-2 all time in Big Ten/ACC Challenge games...The Lady Lions have pulled down 40 or more rebounds in every game they have played this season with 41 against Georgia Tech...Penn State is now 0-1 all-time in games against Georgia Tech...The Lady Lions held Georgia Tech's leading scorer Mo Bennett scoreless, who averaged 10.8 points per game coming in to the contest.

The Lady Lions open their Big Ten Conference schedule at Minnesota Sunday at 4 p.m. (Eastern). The game can be seen live on the Big Ten Network. Penn State returns to Happy Valley for a four-game homestand, beginning with Monmouth on Wed., Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. Single-game tickets can be purchased by calling the Penn State ticket office at 814-865-5555.

The 2010 WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State will take place on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m., as the Lady Lions take on Illinois in the Bryce Jordan Center. The game can be seen on www.bigtennetwork.com. The first three Pink Zone events have raised more than $80,000 for breast cancer awareness. This year's fundraising efforts will benefit the Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition and the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund. For more information on the Pink Zone at Penn State, visit the official Pink Zone website at www.gopsusports.com/pinkzone.

The Lady Lions are on Twitter. Follow head coach Coquese Washington (@psucoachquese), sports information contact Kris Petersen (@ladylionsid) and the Lady Lions and assistant coaches (@pennstatewbb) to get the inside scoop. The Lady Lions are also on Facebook. Search Lady Lion Basketball and become a fan.

 

 

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