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Dec. 12, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - With the 2000 Final Four team and a large gathering of Lady Lion alumni in the crowd, Penn State (7-3, 0-1) used a pair of outstanding senior performances and clutch freshmen free throw shooting to shock the 15th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers (8-1), 77-73, at the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday afternoon. Senior Tyra Grant (Youngstown, Ohio) had a season-high 27 points to go along with three steals to pace the Lady Lions, who defeated a ranked opponent for the first time since topping No. 10 Duke on Dec. 2, 2007.
Grant's classmate Meredith Monroe (Olney, Md.) continued to shine in her newly found starting role as she posted her first career double-double with career bests of 14 points and 13 rebounds. It is the second consecutive game that Monroe has set a career scoring mark. Monroe was 5-for-8 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
Freshman Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas) scored all 12 of her points in the second half and pulled in seven rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass. Greene, who entered the game as a 42.9% free throw shooter, salted the game away for the Lady Lions by making 5-of-6 free throws in the final 1:04. Fellow freshman Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) continued her solid play with nine points, six assists and three steals, while Julia Trogele (Devon, Pa.) added six points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in the win. Trogele entered the game with two career three-pointers and equaled that mark against the Panthers.
The Lady Lions won the tip and had several opportunities to cash in on their opening possession and were unable to convert. Pitt drew first blood by scoring the first five points of the game until Bentley put the Lions on the board with a jumper. Following a Shayla Scott three-pointer, Penn State score six consecutive tallies to tie the game at 8-8 with just under 14 minutes left in the first half. Grant accounted for four points and Monroe added a layup.
Pittsburgh ended the Lady Lion run with a three-pointer by Sophronia Sallard, but Emily Phillips (South Bend, Ind.) knocked down her fifth career three-pointer to even the score at 11-11. After an exchange of possessions, Phillips stole the ball and went the length of the court where she was fouled on her layup attempt. Phillips made one of her two free throw attempts to give Penn State their first lead of the game at 12-11 with 11:59 left in the first half. Monroe added to the Lady Lion lead with a pair of free throws after she was fouled on an outstanding rebound and putback attempt. However, the Panthers would go on a 6-2 run to establish an 18-16 lead with 9:38 on the clock.
Grant ignited the crowd with an old-fashioned three-point play off of a steal in the Penn State end to give Penn State a 19-18 with nine minutes left in the opening frame. She extended the Lady Lion lead with a driving scoop shot on PSU's next possession, but the Panthers responded with five-straight points to earn a 23-21 lead with seven minutes remaining in the first.
Once again Grant had an answer for the Panthers as she knocked down a three-pointer to put Penn State ahead again and pushed the lead to three points (26-23) with a jumper at the 4:56 mark. Following a Pitt basket, Bentley drained a three-pointer to give the Lady Lions their largest lead of the game at 29-25 with three minutes remaining. However, Pittsburgh went on an 8-1 run to end the half and head into the locker room with a 33-30 lead.
Grant had a game-best 14 points in the first half, while Monroe added six points and eight rebounds. Bentley and Phillips accounted for five first-half points each. Sallard was Pitt's leading scorer at the break with 10 tallies.
The Panthers continued the run that started at the end of the first half with a jumper by Scott in their opening possession. Bentley got the Lady Lions going with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two points before Grant drained a spot-up three-pointer on a pass from Bentley to give Penn State a 36-35 lead just over one minute into the second half. The Panthers retook the lead on a jumper but the Lady Lions reeled off six straight points thanks to a pair of layups by Greene and a fastbreak bucket by Grant to establish a 42-37 lead with 16:31 to play in the game.
Pittsburgh continued the saw-saw theme to the game, scoring six of the game's next seven points to even the game at 43-43 with 14:49 on the clock. One minute later, Grant put the Lions back on top with a layup before Pitt's Selena Nwude hit one of two free throw attempts to make it a 45-44 Lady Lion lead with 12:41 to play. Penn State added to their lead with a 7-2 run that included four points from Monroe, two tallies from Greene and one point from Phillips to take a 52-46 lead near the midway point of the second half. The Panthers were relentless again, scoring six consecutive points to tie the game with eight minutes left, but Trogele answered 30 seconds later with her third career three-pointer to push the Lions ahead 55-52.
Grant stepped up again for the Lady Lions with a three-point play to push the lead to six points. The Panthers sandwiched a pair of baskets around a Monroe 15-footer that dropped at the shot clock buzzer to make it a 60-56 game with just over four minutes remaining. Grant tallied another three-point play to extend Penn State's lead to seven points (63-56).
After the two teams exchanged baskets, Pittsburgh drained back-to-back three-pointers to pull within a single point at 65-64 with less than three minutes left. However, the Lady Lions responded with back-to-back treys of their own by Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.) and Trogele for a 71-64 lead with 1:45 on the clock. Pittsburgh would draw within three points in the final 1:45, but the Lady Lions secured the win with six free throws by Greene and one freebie by Bentley.
GAME NOTES: Today's win was Penn State's first win over a ranked opponent since Dec. 2, 2007 against #10/11 Duke...With 27 points, Tyra Grant tops the 1,600-point plateau for her career and moved past Andrea Garner (1,619) for eighth place on Penn State's career scoring list...This was Grant's 30 career game with 20 points or more...Grant has reached double-digits in each of her last 22 games... Senior Meredith Monroe recorded her first career double-double with career highs of 14 points and 13 rebounds...The Lady Lions are now 27-13 all-time against the Panthers...This is Penn State's 17th home win over Pitt in 18 games...With one block today, Nikki Greene moved into the Top 10 on Penn State's freshman season blocks list with 18 rejections this season...Greene tied her career high with 12 points.
After taking a break for finals, the Lady Lions continue their four-game homestand against Oakland on Mon., Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m., as part of a men's and women's doubleheader. General admission tickets for both games are $10 for adults and $5 for students/youth. Penn State completes it's homestand with its Big Ten home opener against Iowa on Mon., Dec. 28 at 1 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.