Mazzante stresses team, but racks up records

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Kelly Mazzante's teammates have gotten used to her quick shooting. So when she pulled up for a 25-foot 3-pointer in Penn State's second-round NCAA game against Florida International, it was just another shot -- and when it went in, it was just another record.

"We were joking about it in the locker room. It was pretty close to half court," teammate Tanisha Wright said. "She tried to blame it on the shot clock. It's amazing that she does things like that."

Mazzante has taken the Lady Lions (23-11) on her back and led them to the Mideast Regional in Milwaukee, where they'll play No. 1 and undefeated Connecticut on Saturday.

It's a long way to come since Jan. 7, when Penn State was 9-7 and simply making the NCAA tournament looked doubtful. That's when Penn State's coaches asked their team to say how far they thought they could go this year.

"Kelly Mazzante is the one that said, 'We're going to the Sweet 16,"' coach Rene Portland said after Sunday night's 96-79 victory over FIU. "I think the whole team did something tonight, but her prediction was pretty moving."

Although she's just a sophomore, the 6-foot Mazzante is the nation's leading scorer, averaging 25.2 points per game. And she gets them in every way possible -- sprinting out on fast breaks, hitting 3-pointers and posting up smaller defenders. When defenders overplay her, she cuts backdoor. When a defender follows her to the perimeter, she just steps out even farther.

On Sunday, Mazzante hit 12 of 26 shots, including 6 of 11 3-pointers, and scored 32 points. When the Golden Panthers made a run midway through the second half, Mazzante hit a pair of 3-pointers to put the game away.

"She was shooting from everywhere," FIU's Cormisha Cotton said. "Anytime we came back, it was like she put a dagger in our heart."

Mazzante has kept busy rewriting the Penn State and Big Ten record books. Her 529 points last year were the most ever by a Lady Lions freshman and made her the first freshman to lead the Big Ten in scoring.

Mazzante scored 49 points in a win at Minnesota in December and broke the Penn State single-season scoring record more than a month ago. Her 32-point showing against FIU gave her the Big Ten record for points in a season with 857, two more than Northwestern's Anucha Browne scored in 1985. The record-breaker came on that long 3-pointer.

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