Pistoia (Pontebuggianese), Italy – In the final game of its 2014 Italy Tour, the University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team nearly overcame an 18-point deficit to Chemcats Chemnitz – a professional team from Germany – but fell 62-56 on Monday night in Pistoia, Italy.
Penn, which finished 2-1 during its international competition, was in control early and led 14-8 after the first quarter of play. However, in the waning moments of the quarter, sophomore Melanie Lockett went down hard and left the game with a knee injury. She did not return and the Quakers were down to eight players (Keiera Ray and Katy Allen also missed the game due to injuries dating back to last season).
Penn had built an 18-10 lead, but the pace and physicality increased tremendously in the second quarter. Both teams utilized a full court press throughout most of the contest and the Quakers struggled in the immediate absence of Lockett. Chemcats used the defensive pressure to keep the Red and Blue without a field goal over the last seven minutes of the quarter. Meanwhile, the Germans capped the half with a 22-3 run and Penn trailed 32-21 at the break.
Senior Renee Busch, who finished with a team-high 21 points, stopped a 14-0 run to pull within 34-23, but the next eight points went to the German professionals and the deficit was 41-23 with 7:38 to play in the third quarter.
Always a staple under head coach Mike McLaughlin, it was Penn’s defense that came to the rescue again. The Quakers held their German counterparts without a point for more than a quarter. Meanwhile, the Red and Blue posted a 16-0 run, highlighted by a pair of threes from senior Kathleen Roche, who finished with nine points, and four points apiece from Kara Bonenberger and Brooklyn Juday, pulled Penn within 41-39 with 7:51 to play.
Penn’s professional opponents finally broke the scoreless streak with back-to-back buckets to go up six. The Quakers closed to within three, 49-46 with a little more than five minutes to go, but Chemcats Chemnitz scored five straight and maintained a seven-point lead into the final minute. Roche hit her third three of the game to get Penn within 60-56 with 18 seconds left, but the Quakers would not score again.
Overall, the Quakers were 18-of-71 (25.4%) from the field, 7-of-15 (46.7%) from the three-point range and 13-of-22 (59.0%) from the free throw line. Juday finished with eight points and Bonenberger added six. Sydney Stipanovich finished with seven points and Rayne Connell had four.
For the tournament, Stipanovich led the Quakers with 16.3 points per game. Busch also averaged double figures with 10.7 points/game. Bonenberger finished with 25 points for the tournament (8.3 pts/game) and Juday scored 23 in the three games (7.7 pts/gm). As a team, the Quakers finished with 67.7 points per game and surrendered just 49.7 points per game. Penn topped the Italy All Stars, 69-39, in Costa Masnaga on Wednesday and won in La Spezia on Sunday night, 78-49 over AS Vertis La Spezia.
The game was the final contest for the Quakers in Italy, but the team will spend the next two days touring Rome before wrapping up the 10-day trip with a flight home to Philadelphia on Thursday.