NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Senior Kathleen Roche tied a career-high with six threes as the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team used some hot shooting and a suffocating defense on Saturday night to win at Yale, 62-48, and move back into first place in the Ivy League.
Penn won for the 11th time in the last 12 games to improve to 19-6 overall. The 19 wins are second-most in school history. The Quakers also off to their first 9-2 start in Ivy play in 10 years. That record leaves the Quakers in a tie with Princeton atop the Ivy League standings after the Tigers lost by three at Brown on Saturday night.
Roche got started early with her first trey just three minutes into the game. Yale led 8-7, but after Sydney Stipanovich drained a deep jumper to put Penn on top at the 15:23 mark, Penn never trailed again.
For the game, Penn connected on a season-high 12 threes. Senior Alyssa Baron had three of those and finished with her first double-double of the season. She also moved into second place all-time at Penn and 10th all-time among Ivy Leaguers in career scoring. Her first trey started a 9-2 run that was capped by another Roche three and the Quakers led 20-13 with 9:13 left in the half.
Yale (13-13, 6-6 Ivy) closed to within six, 23-17, but Roche hit her fourth three of the half to put Penn up, 26-17, with 5:53 until the break.
It was clearly Penn's night when freshman Stephanie Cheney banked in a three just moments later. And Baron capped off the half with Penn's eighth three of the opening 20 minutes. That sent the Quakers into intermission with a 36-24 lead.
It was Penn's defense that highlighted the second half. The Bulldogs managed just three field goals and nine points over the first 13 minutes of the second stanza.
Meanwhile, the Red and Blue continued to have little trouble finding the bottom of the net at Lee Amphitheater. Senior captain Meghan McCullough started the half with a three, Baron added another one and junior Kara Bonenberger had four points in a 14-6 run to put Penn ahead, 50-30, with 11:03 to play.
The lead grew to as many as 22 when Baron made another three with 7:10 to play. Yale decreased its deficit to 58-42, but Roche continued the theme of the night with another swish from beyond the arc and the Quakers cruised to their first four-game season sweep of Yale and Brown since 2007.
Inside the Numbers
Baron finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth career double-double. She now has 1,748 points and passed Jewel Clark for second on Penn's all-time scoring list and cracked the Ivy League's top 10. The only Quaker with more points than the Miami, Fla., native is the Ivy League's all-time leading scorer - Diana Caramanico (2,415).
Roche finished with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 6-of-9 marksmanship from three-point range. Junior Renee Busch also added a three for the Quakers.
Bonenberger had six points, seven rebounds and matched a career high with four assists. Stipanovich had seven points and seven rebounds. McCullough added six assists and finished with 14 for the weekend in addition to three points and six boards on Saturday night. Cheney finished with seven points in 10 minutes off the bench.
Penn shot 20-of-47 (42.6%) from the field and had 15 assists. The Quakers also held a strong rebounding edge, 44-34. Yale finished 19-of-64 (29.7%) overall and 8-of-16 (50.0%) from three.
Outside the Box Score
This is Penn's second straight win at Lee Amphitheater, but just the second win in the last three years in New Haven as Yale won the 2013 game when it was moved to Lanham Recreation Center due to unplayable conditions.
In a sign of things to come, the Quakers made an impressive five halfcourt shots - including three in a row - during the team's traditional Players vs. Coaches halfcourt competition at shootaround. In its third year, it was by far the most makes in a single shootaround and the players won, 3-2. McCullough, Lockett and Stipanovich made for the players while head coach Mike McLaughlin and volunteer assistant and former Quakers Jess Knapp scored for the coaches. Halfcourt highlights here.
Penn returns home to The Palestra for the first time in three weeks. Its the final homestand of the season and the careers for four Penn seniors. On Friday, March 7, the Red and Blue host Columbia at 7 p.m., and the following night, the Quakers will honor the Class of 2014 prior to an 8 p.m. tip off against Cornell.