BALTIMORE, Md. - Another balanced attack led the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team to its school-record eighth straight non-conference victory on Wednesday night. Thirteen Quakers found the scoring column as Penn cruised to an 85-51 win over Morgan State at Hill Field House.
The eight-game winning streak is the second-longest overall in school history and at 8-2, Penn is off to the best 10-game start in program history.
Penn now heads into a showdown with four-time defending league champion and arch rival Princeton in the Ivy opener on Saturday at The Palestra.
Morgan State (2-12) led 8-7 after the first four minutes and the game was tied at 10-10 at the 14:22 mark. But the Quakers scored the game's next 13 points. During that stretch, junior Kara Bonenberger converted a three-point play, freshman guard Melanie Lockett battled around the basket for an offensive rebound and converted the putback, and senior captain Alyssa Baron buried one of her three threes.
The run extended to 19-3 with buckets from three other Quakers - freshman Sydney Stipanovich, sophomore Keiera Ray and senior captain Meghan McCullough. Ray's steal and fastbreak dish to McCullough gave Penn a 29-13 lead with 7:54 remaining in the half.
The Bears whittled their deficit down to 33-22, but Penn scored eight of the next 10 - backed by two more threes from Baron - and took a 41-25 lead into the break.
Junior Katy Allen eliminated any doubt to the outcome with nine points in the first four minutes of the second half. Combined with a three from junior Kathleen Roche, Penn started the half on a 12-3 run and led 53-28 with 16:07 to play.
Morgan State was never within 23 points again. The lead grew to 30, 68-38, after a pair of free throws from senior captain Courtney Wilson. Freshman Stephanie Cheney gave Penn its largest lead, 81-42, with a layup at the 4:15 mark. Before the buzzer, sophomore Rayne Connell and Brooklyn Juday also got into the scoring column with a pair of buckets for the Red and Blue.
In his 125th game at the helm of the Quakers, this was the program's largest margin of victory under head coach Mike McLaughlin - which topped the old mark set just three days ago (79-49 over Norfolk State). The Red and Blue did it with the highest scoring game under Coach McLaughlin and their best shooting night in his tenure - 52.7 percent (29-of-55).
The defensive-minded coach can also boast some impressive numbers on that side of the ball. The Quakers held the Bears to 25.8 percent (17-of-66) shooting and Stipanovich matched a career-high with six blocks for the second straight game. Her numbers tied for the third-most in a single-game at Penn and set a school record for the most blocks in a two-game span.
Penn, which has started 4-0 on the road for the first time since 1990-91, held a huge advantage on the boards at 51-29 and has now won 19 straight games when outrebounding its opponent.
With a team-high 14 points, Baron became just the fourth player in school history with 1,500 career points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double. Allen was 6-for-6 from the field and had a team-high 14 points in just 16 minutes. Bonenberger contributed seven points, six rebounds and three assists, while Stipanovich added 13 points and eight rebounds. Penn had 21 assists on 29 field goals led by five from McCullough and four from Lockett. Junior Renee Busch added eight points on 3-of-4 shooting. Ray finished with four points, three assists and two steals.
Even senior captain Kristen Kody provided a boost as she made the trip just days after surgery on her ACL.
As is tradition, the Quakers open Ivy play against the Tigers. Penn will host the first matchup this year on Saturday with tip off at The Palestra set for 3 p.m.—the first game of a doubleheader with the men. Those with a ticket to the women’s game can see the Penn-Princeton men’s game for free (6 p.m.).
Fan Tweet of the Game:
Gilly Lane (@GLSquash) January 9, 2014