1:00 PM ET, January 23, 2005
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- With the crowd yelling and her team behind, Rene Portland found nothing but resolve in her Lady Lions.Portland got 24 points each from Tanisha Wright and Jess Strom on Sunday to help Penn State knock off No. 8 Michigan State 73-56, the team's third win this season against a Top 10 opponent."There are certain kids you can read and you look at them and you can just tell by their faces you're going to be OK," Portland said. "So that's a nice look every now and then. I try to search for the one that's going to make me feel good when I'm on the sideline."The Lady Lions had already beaten No. 9 North Carolina and No. 3 Ohio State this year, and back-to-back wins against Purdue (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) and Michigan State this week may have been enough to move Portland's team into the Top 25.Wright had 16 points in the second half, including 10 during a 25-7 run that put the Lady Lions (12-6, 7-0 Big Ten) ahead 67-51 with 2:36 left. That spurt erased a three-point deficit and ended a stretch of more than six minutes without a field goal.It was the 19th straight double-figure scoring game for the senior, who shot 10-of-18 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line."I always have fun playing," Wright said. "Sometimes it gets a little intense and it's hard to smile. But just because I'm not smiling doesn't mean I'm not having fun. But, yeah, I'm enjoying playing right now and I think everyone on this team is having fun playing."Lindsay Bowen scored 13 points to lead the Spartans, who also got 11 points from Liz Shimek and 10 from Kristin Haynie.The Spartans (16-3, 5-2) led by as many as nine in the first half and were up 44-41 following Haynie's layup with 12:29 left but couldn't overcome cold shooting down the stretch. The Big Ten's best 3-point shooting team was just 5-of-17 from beyond the arc and shot just 8-of-30 from the floor in the second half.And, following wins against Minnesota and at Illinois, coach Joanne McCallie said her team didn't show enough effort against the Lady Lions."They jacked it up," she said of Penn State's second-half effort. "They got the loose balls, they got the rebounds, they outrebounded us, they outhustled us. That's the way second halves are supposed to be played. We looked like Barbie dolls and they looked like something other than that."Part of that effort came from the Lady Lions' post players, who helped Penn State finish with a 40-31 edge on the boards against the Big Ten's second-best rebounding team."We worked all week on just keeping our practice guys off the block," center Ashli Schwab said. "They were really strong and I think they were a good simulation to what we were going to face today. Really, just keep them off the block because we knew they wanted to turn baseline and shoot a layup, so we forced them out a little bit and were physical with them and I think that took them out of their game a little bit."The Lady Lions opened both halves with cold shooting -- 2-of-10 in the first half, 3-of-13 in the second -- but shot 45.1 percent for the game.And the senior guards were able to keep their coach calm."If I could predict what they were going to do, I'd be pretty good," Portland said. "As long as this thing at the end is the right answer -- that they win -- this is the only consistency I need."
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