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December Total: 7
Season Total: 13
AMES, Iowa - A strong effort from the bench vaulted the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team past Alabama State, 52-37, in the first game of the Iowa State Cyclone Challenge on Saturday afternoon at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.
In the program's first-ever game in the state of Iowa, the Penn bench had nearly half the team's points (23) and sparked an early game-changing run to put the Quakers in the lead for good. Nine different Quakers scored, nine had an assist and 10 had at least one rebound as Penn won for the fifth time in the last six games.
Another long break between games and a foreign arena may have contributed to a rough start offensively. The Quakers started 1-of-14 (7.1%) from the floor as they managed only a three from sophomore Kathleen Roche and three free throws from sophomore Katy Allen over the first 9:10.
Trailing 9-6, Penn's bench provided a huge spark. Junior Courtney Wilson broke a near eight-minute scoreless drought with back-to-back baskets and added two blocks on the defensive end. Shortly thereafter, sophomore Renee Busch buried a three off a great screen from junior Kristen Kody. Meanwhile, with starting freshman point guard Keiera Ray on the bench with foul trouble, senior captain Brianna Bradford, who finished with a team and career-high eight rebounds, helped stabilize the offense and hit a huge three to cap a 14-2 run.
That effort gave the Quakers (5-4) a 20-11 lead with 4:59 to go in the half. But the Lady Hornets (2-8) scored nine of the last 10 points of the half to cut Penn's lead to 21-20 at the break.
Penn came out firing in the second half. Roche hit a three right at the start, then after a steal, Ray buried another three. Following another steal, sophomore Kara Bonenberger converted a fastbreak layup for a 29-20 edge less than three minutes into the final half.
Moments later, when Ray had to sit again due to foul trouble, Bradford came back in and promptly connected from beyond the arc to stretch the lead to double digits, 32-22.
The Lady Hornets got to within seven, 32-25, but Allen, who matched Bradford with a team-high eight points, hit a three. Once more, with the lead in single digits, the Quakers answered right away as junior Alyssa Baron drove the lane and converted on a layup with a hand in her face. Bradford then went coast-to-coast with a fastbreak layup for a 42-39 edge at the 9:48 mark.
Alabama State was never within single digits again. Sophomore Jessica Monsman put the icing on the cake with her first career three - the sixth different Quaker with a three on the day - for a 52-35 lead in the final minute.
Baron had a team-best five assists and added seven points and seven rebounds in addition to two of the team's six steals. Roche had six rebounds and six points. Bonenberger also added six rebounds as the Quakers won the battle of the boards, 48-45. Busch had six points and three rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench, while Wilson played 19 minutes and contributed six points and four rebounds.
Penn finished 18-of-65 (27.7%) from the field and connected on 10 of their season-high 33 three-point attempts (30.3%). The Quakers had 14 assists on their 18 baskets and held Alabama State to 14-of-56 (25.0%) shooting and 3-of-15 (20.0%) from three. Penn also forced 20 turnovers.
Up next at the Cyclone Challenge, the Quakers take on Air Force at 2 p.m. (EST) on Sunday.