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Portland shooting for 500th win

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2002

Penn State coach Rene Portland hopes register his 500th win today.

Portland currently is 499-174 in 22 seasons with the Lady Lions. She can capture No. 500 with a win over Big Ten Conference rival Ohio State.

"I'm just grateful to have been at Penn State this long and to have been successful for the players," said Portland, who is 586-203 in 26 years as a head coach. "I love coaching basketball. I don't really think about the wins in terms of numbers."

Portland and Penn State need to win a majority of their final seven games this season, if the Lady Lions hope to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State (14-8, 6-3 Big Ten) struggled early, but has defeated Wisconsin and Northwestern twice over the past week and a half.

"(The Northwestern game) was probably our most balanced performance of the season," Portland said. "It was a great confidence builder for us."

Penn State's Kelly Mazzante leads the nation in scoring, averaging 25.1 points. Mazzante said that she and her teammates are aware of how close Portland is to getting her 500th win as Penn State's coach.

"We plan on doing something special for Rene when it happens," Mazzante said. "We will take time out to celebrate. But we can't take too much time, because we need to win more than one game."

LIVING UP TO HYPE

As preseason All-Americans, Sue Bird, Stacey Dales, Chantelle Anderson, LaToya Thomas and Alana Beard were part of an elite group back in November. Now it's February and time to check on whether they're living up to the hype.

Bird, the point guard for No. 1 Connecticut, has lead the Huskies to a 23-0 record. Bird is averaging 14.5 points, 6.2 assists and 2.5 steals. She's shooting 51 percent and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.5-1.

Dales is the floor leader for No. 4 Oklahoma. She is averaging 15.7 points, five assists and 4.7 rebounds. She scored a career-high 29 points in a victory over Oklahoma State on Tuesday.

Anderson, a 6-foot-6 junior at No. 8 Vanderbilt, is averaging 20.2 points and is shooting 66 percent. While that would be greatg for most players, it's down from here nation-leading 72.3 percent mark last season, and she's shooting just 57.5 percent in Southeastern Conference games.

Thomas, a junior at Mississippi State, is third nationally in scoring, averaging 23.5 points and 9.7 rebounds.

Thomas scored 43 points against Georgia on Jan. 13, matching the second-best single-game total this season in Division I, and grabbed 22 rebounds against Montana.

Beard, just a sophomore, leads Duke in scoring (19.0), assists (5.3) and steals (3.6) and is second in rebounding (6.4). Beard is shooting 47 percent from 3-point range and 57 percent overall.

BIG EAST LEADER

Undefeated No. 1 Connecticut deserves its ranking, Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw said.

"There is Connecticut, and then there is everyone else," said McGraw, whose Fighting Irish defeated Connecticut in the Final Four last March on the way to the NCAA Championship. "The middle teams in the Big East have gotten better, and I thought this was going to be a really exciting year, but alot of teams have had to deal with a major injury. I still think the conference is strong and once the injured players returned the teams did a lot better."

A GOOD MOVE

After Minnesota was forced out of its arena because of water damage, coach Brenda Oldfield isn't sure she wants to go back. The damage forced the No. 22 Gophers to move their home games from the Sports Pavilion, which seats 5,700, to Williams Arena, which seats 14,625 and is known for its elevated floor.

In their first game at Williams, the Gophers drew a school-record 11,389 fans for a victory over Indiana.

STREAK STOPPED

With her record-breaking streak over, Long Island's Kim MacMillan is trying to start another one.

MacMillan's streak of games with at least one 3-pointer ended at 60 when she went 0 for 7 from beyond the arc against Sacred Heart on Jan. 24. She broke the NCAA record when her streak reached 54 against Buffalo on Dec. 29.

Sandy Brown of Middle Tennessee State held the record of 53, which she reached in the 1998-99 season. MacMillan started her streak on Jan. 29, 2000. After being blanked against Sacred Heart, she made a 3 in her only game since then.

A 5-7 junior, MacMillan has hit a 3-pointer in 76 of her 78 games with the Blackbirds and has 266 in her career.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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