It was as simple as saying a quick prayer and taking a shot.
That's how Janessa Wolff described her game-winner with 0.5 seconds remaining against No. 11 Duke last night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The freshman forward said she never expected to be in a situation where she would hit a game-winner, especially against one of the country's most storied programs.
But when point guard Brianne O'Rourke dished it to Wolff, she reacted with more poise than most first-year college players and delivered the final volley in the Lady Lions (6-2) thrilling 86-84 win against the Blue Devils (5-3).
The shot ended a furious Duke comeback. The Blue Devils trailed by four points with 22.2 seconds remaining, but tied the game with 7.6 seconds to play.
"I was just kinda standing on the block trying to occupy my girl and all of a sudden Bri [O'Rourke's] at like the free throw line and I see my girl leave," Wolff said. "I don't even know if I screamed her name or anything, but I saw her eyes look at me and I just put my hands in the air, said a quick prayer and put it up there."
When the shot fell, the Penn State bench erupted, with players and coaches storming the court.
They had to be restrained by officials who added time to the clock, which gave the Blue Devils an opportunity to tie or win. But when Duke's Karima Christmas could not convert her jumper from the foul line, the Lady Lions stormed the court one last time and the crowd roared.
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie had little to say about the final play and described it as simply "bad defense, horrific defense by us."
The loss snapped Duke's 76-game-winning streak against unranked opponents. It was Penn State's first win in six games against the Blue Devils. The Lady Lions fell at Duke 70-42 last season.
The pass to Wolff was O'Rourke's eighth assist of the game to go along with a career- and game-high 23 points.
Fellow guard Mashea Williams scored 16 of her 22 points in the second half. Williams routinely answered Duke buckets with shots of her own. The Blue Devils overcame an 11-point halftime deficit and actually took the lead in the second half, but the Lady Lions, led by Williams and O'Rourke, didn't allow Duke to pull away.
Lady Lion coach Coquese Washington said the final play didn't go exactly according to plan.
Penn State expected Duke to press as it had for much of the second half. But when the Blue Devils did not pressure the Lady Lions in the backcourt, Penn State appeared startled.
"They kind of looked like, 'What do we do now?' And I was like just, 'Go'," Washington said. "And [O'Rourke] did what we talked about doing: Attack, attack, attack. That's our mindset, we're going to attack."
The junior point guard hurried up the court looking for a good shot. When a second defender collapsed on her from the post, O'Rourke said she saw her open teammate on the low-block and had "all the confidence in the world" in Wolff.
Wolff did not let her junior captain down. She converted the layup with screams of "Come on Janessa" coming from the home bench.
While Wolff's shot was the game-winner, Washington said O'Rourke's ability to get in the lane and draw extra defenders created Wolff's open look.
"[O'Rourke] made a great play, which is what great point guards do," Washington said. "She made a great play at the end of the game to win it for us.
"It's probably the biggest win any of these players have experienced since they've been here."