NCAA TOURNAMENT Mazzante's 27 points key Penn St.
She led the Nittany Lions to a win over South Carolina in the Mideast Regional.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State's Kelly Mazzante won her scoring duel against Jocelyn Penn, and her team will advance to the regional semifinals.
Mazzante scored 27 points to lead the fourth-seeded Lady Lions to a 77-67 victory over fifth-seeded South Carolina in the Mideast Regional on Tuesday. After back-to-back 27-point games, Mazzante -- still only a junior -- is just 27 points from tying Susan Robinson as Penn State's career scoring leader.
"Our team knew what a player [Mazzante] was. She reads defenses really well. She makes good decisions, very poised, not a lot of emotion in her game," South Carolina coach Susan Walvius said. "Guards win games, and she's a great guard. I'm not sure you're going to find many teams that can stop her."
The Lady Lions (26-8) advance to the round of 16 and face top-seeded Tennessee on its home court Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.
Billed as showdown
The game was billed as a showdown between Mazzante and Penn, who came into the game ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, nationally in scoring.
But the showdown never materialized. Mazzante jumped to a quick start, hitting a layup just four seconds into the game, then hitting a 3-pointer to make it 5-0, while most of Penn's 21 points came too late to matter.
"I think the big key for us was finding her in transition," Mazzante said of Penn. "We knew that she likes to run out, and we had someone there to make sure she didn't get those easy lay-ups."
"We were just looking to play good one-on-one defense against [Penn] and help down if we needed to, and we did a great job denying on the guards, making it hard to get the ball in to her," forward Jessica Brungo said.
Defense is telling
South Carolina (23-8) could not handle Penn State's pressure defense, especially in the second half. Kelly Morrone hit a 3-pointer to bring the Gamecocks to 46-35 with 12:15 left, but that's as close as they would get until it was too late.
"I think there were times in the second half where South Carolina thought they were going to come back in the game, but we had an answer for them," Penn State coach Rene Portland said.
On the next possession, Mazzante scored off her own steal to start a 12-2 run. Tanisha Wright then stole the South Carolina in-bounds pass, feeding Mazzante for another basket. Brungo's layup made it 58-37 with 11:58 left.
"I felt we turned the ball over and that let them get out," Penn said. "We couldn't do anything about the runs because we were handing them the ball."
Wright finished with 16 points, and Brungo had 10. Jess Strom had eight points and eight assists.
Cristina Ciocan had 14 points for the Gamecocks when she fouled out with 7:10 left, and Petra Ujhelyi scored 11.
Morrone said the bottom line was that South Carolina simply couldn't control Mazzante.
"She's an All-American for a reason. She's going to score her points," Morrone said. "Limiting her touches was part of our game plan, and we didn't."