Women's Basketball Suffers First Big 5 Loss, 66-53
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PHILADELPHIA - For the second straight year, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team held a second-half lead over Big 5 rival Saint Joseph's, but could not hold on down the stretch. The Quakers fell, 66-53, in Saturday's matinee at The Palestra.
Penn, which lost for just the second time since Nov. 18, fell to 6-5 on the year and 1-1 in the Big 5. The Quakers still control their own destiny toward the program's first-ever Big 5 title with games against Villanova (Jan. 16) and Temple (Jan. 23) remaining. Both are at The Palestra.
The Quakers held a 33-32 lead with under 12 mintues to play, but Saint Joseph's (9-5, 1-1 Big 5), which defeated No. 5 Maryland this season and was coming off a narrow loss at No. 17 UCLA, went on a 17-4 run and held off the Red and Blue from there.
The teams traded baskets in the early going. Sophomore Kara Bonenberger put the Quakers up 7-6 with a layup five minutes into the contest.
However, the Hawks found a brief rhythm offensively and went on a 14-5 spurt over the next five minutes to take a 20-12 lead at the 9:11 mark. At the time, Saint Joseph's had converted on 9-of-18 (50%) shots. But the Quakers defense, which is tops in the Ivy League, buckled down.
Penn held the visitors to just two baskets over the final nine minutes and forced 13 first-half turnovers. Meanwhile, Baron and freshman Keiera Ray combined for seven straight points for Penn, and when sophomore Katy Allen sunk in a layup to cap the half, the Quakers trailed by just three, 24-21, at intermission.
Bonenberger started the second half with a three-point play to tie the game at 24-24. Moments later, sophomore Kathleen Roche drained a three to cap a 17-6 Penn run and give the Quakers a 29-26 lead with 16:34 to play.
Saint Joseph's scored back-to-back buckets, but another Roche three - here third straight game with multiple triples - gave Penn a two-point edge.
Then senior captain Brianna Bradford hit one of two from the charity stripe for a 33-32 advantage with 12:09 to play, but it was the last lead of the day for the Quakers.
The Hawks went on their game-changing run and led by double digits for the last five minutes. Saint Joseph's iced it from the line where they made 15-of-16 (93.8%) on the afternoon.
Baron finished with a team-high 12 points and Roche added 11 and a team-best seven rebounds to match a career-high. Bonenberger and Allen each had a team-high three assists, while adding nine and eight points, respectively. Bonenberger also had four of the team's five blocks.
Penn struggled to stop the Hawks' leading scorer, Chatilla Van Grinsven, who finished with a career-high 27 points. It also took a career day from Natasha Cloud, who had 19 for Saint Joseph's. The rest of the team combined for just 20 points.
The Quakers were outrebounded 44-21. Saint Joseph's was 25-of-61 (41.0%) shooting and just 1-of-8 (12.5%) from three. The Quakers were 19-of-49 (38.8%) overall and 6-of-12 (50%) from beyond the arc.
Prior to the game, junior captain Alyssa Baron was honored for her 1,000th career point, which was scored in Penn's Big 5 win over La Salle on Nov. 30.
On Tuesday, Penn hosts the first game of a doubleheader with the
men’s team. The Quakers take on Morgan State at 5 p.m. at The
Palestra and then the men host Lafayette at 7:30 p.m. Fans can see the women's game for free with a ticket to the men's game.