Mazzante, Lions hand Gophers 2nd straight loss

by Dan Miller

Minnesota’s women’s basketball team has still never won in State College, Pa., after suffering a 75-56 loss to seventh-ranked Penn State on Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

After this latest loss, the ninth-ranked Gophers dropped to 0-10 all-time in games on the Lions home court.

Late free-throw shooting and 19 turnovers ensured the Gophers (15-2, 4-2 Big Ten) a second straight loss.

“The press really put us back on our heels,” Minnesota coach Pan Borton said. “They mixed it up and it really threw us off.”

Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante took center stage in front of the announced crowd of over 13,000 by hitting six three-pointers and scoring 29 points.

Along the way, Mazzante passed former Indiana men’s basketball player Calbert Cheaney to become the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer – male or female. After Thursday’s game, the senior now has 2,623 career points.

Meanwhile, Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen, the game’s other All-American, was held below her scoring average of 21.9 points per game for the third straight contest, finishing Thursday’s affair with 15 points. She needed 17 to become Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer and will likely hit that mark Sunday at home against No. 25 Michigan State.

Thursday, Penn State (14-3, 7-0) opened the second half with a 15-3 run that put the Lions up 49-37 on a Jess Strom lay-up with 14:17 left in the game.

The Lions used a one-three-one and man-to-man full-court press that threw the Gophers’ offense awry and gave the Lions a huge edge in fast break points.

The Gophers made a run with consecutive thee-point plays from center Janel McCarville and Whalen narrowing the gap to 47-49 with 9:40 to play.

But four missed free-throws from Gophers forward Kadidja Andersson and a step-back three-pointer from Mazzante with 3:14 to play closed the door on Minnesota.

Minnesota’s tenacious defense frustrated the Lions in the first half opening the game with an18-10 run.

The Gophers started the game with hot shooting. Shannon Schonrock opened the game with a three-pointer from the left corner, and Whalen drained a three from 23 feet in the opening minutes.

But the Lions used their press to create Gophers’ turnovers and tied the game at 34 on a Mazzante free-throw with 50 seconds to go in the half.

Minnesota understands it cannot afford to make mistakes this weekend.

“We can’t lose three games in a row,” Borton said. “We’re going to need a strong effort at home to stay in the Big Ten race.”