PRINCETON, N.J. - Ivy League champions. All it took was a total team effort on the road against the four-time defending champions and the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team raised the Ivy trophy at Jadwin Gym on Tuesday night. The Quakers led wire-to-wire and defeated Princeton, 80-64, to earn the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2003-04.
This is Penn's third Ivy League title, and its first in 10 years. The Quakers (22-6, 12-2 Ivy) tied a school record for wins in a season and their 12 league wins are second-most in program history. Princeton, which lost at home to an Ivy opponent for just the second time in the last five seasons, fell to 20-8 overall and finished second in the Ancient Eight standings at 11-3.
Penn jumped out to an early lead and led by 12 at the half. The Quakers were up by as many as 17 early in the second half and never allowed the Tigers closer than nine the rest of the way.
Senior captain and the program's second all-time leading scorer, Alyssa Baron, started the scoring at the 19:12 mark and Penn never trailed. With a 6-5 lead, the Quakers held Princeton scoreless for seven minutes -- forcing seven turnovers in that span.
In the meantime, the Quakers poured in 10 points behind four buckets from four different players and led 16-5 at the 9:45 mark after back-to-back threes from junior Kathleen Roche and senior captain Meghan McCullough.
Princeton closed to within 20-13 with 6:29 left in the opening half, but Penn scored eight of the next 10. On back-to-back possessions, Baron converted a three-point play and then sank a three to give Penn a 28-15 advantage with 4:12 until the break.
The Quakers held that 13-point edge until intermission and led, 32-19. It was the lowest-scoring first half of the season for the Tigers.
In the second half, Princeton's Ivy League leading offense came alive. But each time the Quakers had an answer. Penn's 48 points were the most in a half under head coach Mike McLaughlin.
After the Tigers had the first four points to get within nine, Penn went on a 10-2 run. When McCullough found junior Kara Bonenberger, who finished one rebound shy of a double-double, for a fastbreak layup, the Quakers had their largest lead, 42-25 with 16:50 to play.
Princeton countered with seven straight over the next three minutes. But once again, the Quakers responded. Senior captain Courtney Wilson, who played 15 minutes off the bench, had back-to-back buckets and Penn was up, 46-34, with 11:51 to go.
The teams traded buckets until Princeton closed within 53-44 with 8:55 to go. But Bonenberger converted a three-point play and Baron hit a jumper to push Penn's lead back to 58-44 with 7:39 to play.
Princeton was never within double digits again. The Tigers closed to within 65-54 with 3:23 to go, but the Quakers connected on 15-of-18 (.833) free throws in the final three minutes to snap an 11-game losing streak to Princeton and post the program's first win at Jadwin Gym in nine years.
Inside the Numbers
Baron led four Penn players in double figures with 23 points, and she also added seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. She led Penn in scoring for the 73rd time in her career and moved into ninth-place on the Ivy League's all-time scoring list and now has 1,781 points. The Miami, Fla., native also moved into fourth-place at Penn with 161 career made threes.
Both freshman Sydney Stipanovich (19 points, 9 rebounds) and Bonenberger (11 points, 9 rebounds) nearly had double-doubles, while Roche knocked down three three-pointers en route to 17 points.
McCullough added six points, four rebounds, four assists and a season-high four steals. She, along with Baron and Stipanovich, played every minute prior to being pulled to a standing ovation from the Quaker faithful in the waning seconds.
Penn improved to 16-0 this year and 34-1 over the last three seasons when shooting better than 40 percent from the field. The Quakers were an impressive 27-of-56 (48.2%) overall and 6-of-17 (35.3%) from three.
Meanwhile, Penn, which ranks third in the nation in field goal percentage defense, held Princeton's offense, which ranks seventh-best in the country in field goal percentage (47.6%), to just 24-of-64 (37.5%) from the field. The Tigers were 8-of-20 (40.0%) from beyond the arc. Penn also held the edge in rebounding, 40-37, over a Princeton team that averaged a plus-10 in rebounding margin entering the game.
Outside the Box Score
- Penn's fifth straight win and 14th in the last 15 games gives the Quakers 22 victories for 2013-14 and ties the program record set during the 2000-01 campaign. It also marks the first win over Princeton since an 85-78 victory exactly six years ago to the day.
- Penn's 40 wins over the last two seasons matches the best two-year span in school history (1999-00 and 2000-01).
- Penn has won 22 of its last 26 games and seven of the last eight games.
- The Red and Blue are 20-0 this season when scoring more than 60 points and 47-8 under Coach McLaughlin (.855).
- Penn is 18-1 all-time under Coach McLaughlin when scoring at least 70 points.
- Penn scored 80 points for the third time this season and the fifth time under Coach McLaughlin.
- Penn is 14-1 this season when shooting better than 70 percent from the free throw line and 9-0 when Roche hits multiple threes.
- Penn has won 27 of the last 28 games when outrebounding its opponents.
- This marked Princeton's second home Ivy loss in the last 38 games dating back to the 2008-09 season.
Penn heads to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003-04. The NCAA selection show is Monday night and will be televised on ESPN.