STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (Ticker) -- Helen Darling scored eight of her 15 points in the final six minutes as second-seeded Penn State advanced to the "Sweet 16" with a 75-69 victory over No. 7 Auburn in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Penn State (27-4) trailed by as many as seven points early in the second half but took the lead for good, 62-60, on a basket by Andrea Garner with 5:57 remaining. Darling's bucket just under a minute later made it a four-point game and she went 6-of-6 from the line in the final minute to send the Lady Lions to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1996.
It was Penn State's second victory over Auburn this season and it will face No. 3 seed Iowa State in the regional semifinals on Saturday.
Lisa Shepherd scored 19 points and Maren Walseth added 17 for Penn State, which extended its home winning streak to 16 games. Garner contributed 15 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots.
"Someone told me that if you're in the flow of the game, then it is like poetry and that just stuck in my head," Garner said. "I kept repeating to myself poetry, poetry, poetry. It helped me mentally relax and avoid making turnovers." The Lady Lions shot just 38 percent (21-of-55) but were 25-of-30 from the line, compared to 10-of-10 by Auburn.
"Poise is something that comes from frendship, confidence in other players, belief and knowing that everybody has one heart out there," Lady Lions coach Rene Portland said.
Tasha Hamilton had 19 points and eight rebounds and Lori Nero added 16 and eight for the Tigers (22-8), who were knocked out in the second round for the third time in four years.
"Emotionally we got out of control," Auburn coach Joe Ciampi said. "I always tell them you have to play at one level. They did a good job of coming back down and in the end we had a chance." Despite shooting 52 percent (14-of-27) from the field in the first half, Auburn never led. A basket by Conswella Sparrow lifted the Tigers within 40-37 at halftime.