STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- With fellow Wooden Award candidate Janel McCarville struggling in the first half, Tanisha Wright certainly made her case for the nation's top player.
Wright tied a career high with 32 points to help Penn State (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) upset another ranked team, beating McCarville and Minnesota (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) 81-68 on Sunday. Penn State has also defeated North Carolina, Ohio State and Michigan State -- all in the top 10 at the time.
"Tanisha had an All-American night," Penn State coach Rene Portland said. "She really did on both ends of the court, on the offensive end and the defensive end. She's defending the title that she has on the defensive end and she's making them think a whole lot on the MVP of the league."
Wright was 12-of-23 from the field and scored five points during the Lady Lions' 13-2 second-half run that stretched a two-point lead to a 50-37 advantage with 11:42 left. At the end of the first half, she scored 10 straight points for the Lady Lions and hit 12 of the team's final 14 points.
"I thought that Tanisha Wright basically did anything she wanted to tonight," Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. "In the first half, she really kept her team in the game."
McCarville scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds -- her eighth double-double of the season -- to lead the Golden Gophers (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten) but was just 2-of-8 from the floor in the first half and missed seven straight shots at one point. She also turned the ball over a game-high six times, contributing to the Gophers' 17 turnovers.
"It has to start from the outside in," Portland said of the Lady Lions' defensive effort. "We were very concerned about their 3-point shooting and I think we did a super job on that tonight."
Jess Strom finished with 19 points, including a school-record 15-of-15 effort from the free-throw line for the Lady Lions (13-7, 8-1). The previous high was 14 free throws in a game, last accomplished by Lisa Shepherd against Purdue on Feb. 22, 2001.
Following Wright's free throw with 15:53 left, Jenny Brenden hit a 3-pointer, made two foul shots and then lobbed a pass to Wright in the low post for a layup for a 45-35 Lions lead.
Jamie Broback scored 14 points and Shannon Schonrock added 12 for Minnesota, which turned the ball over 17 times and shot just 1-of-11 from 3-point range.
The Lady Lions hit a season-high 32 free throws in 35 attempts and outrebounded the Gophers -- the Big Ten's best rebounding team -- 32-26.