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With Help From Mazzante, Penn State Beats Notre Dame

March 28, 2004|From Associated Press

Penn State relied on Kelly Mazzante's offense throughout the season. On Saturday, the Nittany Lions needed her defense too.

Mazzante made a floating jumper with 46 seconds left and a key steal down the stretch to lead top-seeded Penn State to a 55-49 victory over Notre Dame in the East Regional semifinals at Hartford, Conn.

Mazzante finished with 17 points and a team-high three steals -- one to open the game, one that led to an easy basket and one that helped clinch the victory.

"We needed a defensive stop. We didn't do that for 38 minutes," Penn State Coach Rene Portland said. "We did that for the last two minutes and it made the difference."

The Nittany Lions (28-5) and Mazzante struggled offensively against Notre Dame's stubborn zone but made the big shots and big plays when they needed it most. Neither team led by more than six points.

"We didn't attack [the zone] enough and they kept pushing us back farther and farther past the three-point," Mazzante said. "I think we made some adjustments at halftime and we started going in the right direction."

Penn State will play second-seeded Connecticut on Monday for a berth in the Final Four.

Jacqueline Batteast led the fifth-seeded Fighting Irish (21-11) with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Her layup with 1:50 left tied the score, 49-49.

Mazzante hit the go-ahead basket on the next possession and got right back on defense. She leaped high to steal a pass intended for Batteast with 35 seconds left, and Penn State was in control the rest of the way.


Louisiana State 71, Texas 55 -- Seimone Augustus scored 29 points on 14 of 18 shooting to lead the fourth-seeded Tigers (26-7) past the top-seeded Longhorns (30-5) in the semifinals at Seattle.

The Tigers (26-7) will play Georgia on Monday night in an all-Southeastern Conference final for a berth in the Final Four.

LSU played well under interim Coach Dana "Pokey" Chatman, who has filled in for two months while Basketball Hall of Fame member Sue Gunter battles acute bronchitis.

Augustus made four baskets during a 14-5 run that resulted in a Longhorn timeout with 7:56 left. The Tigers then scored seven straight points to take a 64-45 lead with 5:39 left.

Georgia 66, Purdue 64 -- A jump shot by Alexis Kendrick with 5.4 seconds left lifted the third-seeded Bulldogs (25-9) past the second-seeded Boilermakers (29-4).

Kendrick's shot capped a dramatic second half, but it wasn't over until Erika Valek drove and missed an open layup at the buzzer that would have forced overtime. There were three ties and four lead changes in the final 10 minutes.

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