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November Total: 2
Season Total: 2
NORFOLK, Va. - Junior Alyssa Baron had a game-high 22 points and freshman Keiera Ray had 14 in her collegiate debut, but the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team was thwarted each time they made a run during the 2012-13 season opener. Norfolk State pulled away in the closing minutes to win 60-51 at Joseph Echols Hall on Friday night.
The season opener for both teams also marked the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Penn (0-1) trailed by three with just 1:45 to play, but, as they did throughout the contest, the Spartans (1-0) would not relinquish the lead. The home team hit some late free throws and sealed the game.
Baron had the first six points of the season for Penn and the Quakers led 6-4 just seven minutes into the opener. But the Red and Blue went nearly six minutes before their next bucket. Ray broke the drought with the first basket of her collegiate career and Penn trailed 13-8.
The teams shared baskets for the next several minutes as Courtney Wilson's jumper had Penn within 22-17 at the 3:20 mark of the opening half. But Norfolk State had the last four points of the half and led 26-17 at the break.
The Spartans quickly jumped out to a 30-19 lead to start the second half. But the Quakers showed some early-season resiliency on the road. Sophomore Meghan McCullough hit a three and Baron dropped in a layup. Ray followed that with a pair of buckets and when Baron drained a three from the wing, it capped a 14-4 run and had the Quakers within 34-33 at the 13:45 mark.
Over the next five minutes, Norfolk State built its lead back to double digits, 46-36. But Penn came back once again.
The Quakers started to chip away at the deficit when Baron hit a jumper and Ray turned a steal into a layup. Sophomore Katy Allen sliced through the defense for a layup and when Baron added another two points, Penn was down just 48-45 with 6:02 to go.
The Red and Blue had several chances to tie the game over the next few minutes, but Norfolk State never relinquished the lead. Sophomore Kara Bonenberger's layup with 1:45 to go moved momentum into Penn's favor and the deficit to 52-49. On Penn's next possession, Baron appeared to have a chance to tie the game with a basket and a foul, but the call went against the Quakers and Norfolk State held on with several free throws down the stretch.
Baron was 8-of-20 from the floor and had a team-high seven rebounds and two steals in addition to two assists. Ray was 6-of-12 from the field with three rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes off the bench. McCullough added five points and six rebounds, while sophomore Kathleen Roche finished with a team-high three assists. Roche also earned her first career start as the opener marked the first time in 57 games in which a freshman did not start for the Quakers.
Both teams shot under 35 percent for the game as Penn was 20-of-63 (32%) and Norfolk State finished 19-of-56 (34%). Penn was just 2-of-14 (14.3%) from beyond the arc, while the Spartans made 3-of-10 (30%). The Quakers forced 22 turnovers, but had 19 of their own. Penn was outrebounded, 46-35.
Penn returns home to take on Virginia, who is receiving votes in the AP Top 25 poll, in the home opener at The Palestra on Monday. This will be the first-ever trip to The Palestra for the ACC foe. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.