PHILADELPHIA - In addition to celebrating a season full of milestones - including the first two postseason wins in program history - the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team handed out its annual team awards at the end-of-year banquet on Sunday at Maggiano's in Center City. The Quakers and the coaching staff were joined by family, friends and alumni.
As a team in 2012-13, Penn posted the program's third 18-win season as well as two wins in the Women's Basketball Invitational before falling at the buzzer in the semifinals. Penn’s nine non-league wins this year matched the school record set in 1999-00. The winning ways were also evident throughout league play where the Quakers won nine games for just the sixth time in school history. Penn's 18-13 overall record marked the first winning season since 2004-05 and the team's best record since the 2000-01 Ivy title team set the school standard with 22 wins.
Senior Brianna Bradford won multiple awards on the night, claiming the Epton-Tarr Award for her efforts as the consummate team player throughout the 2011-12 campaign. She also earned the team's Miss Intangible award. Bradford played in 29 games last season and in 107 during her career. She was Penn's top scorer off the bench in 2012-13 with 5.1 points per game and was the team's top three-point shooter at 38.2 percent (29-of-76).
Senior Katie Davis was honored with the prestigious Harshberger-Johnson-Brendel (HJB) Prize for Sportsmanship, Loyalty and Leadership. The HJB, created by Penn alumna and former player Cynthia Warner Johnson Crowley CW’52, honors the strong tradition of more than 80 years of women’s varsity basketball at Penn. Katie played in 18 games in 2012-13. She was a member of the largest single-season turnaround in school history as a sophomore and the program’s best-ever 10-game start as a junior. She and Bradford are the first class in program history to increase their win total every year of their career.
Freshman Keiera Ray earned the team's Impact Player of the Year honor. She started 27 games in her rookie campaign and finished second on the team in scoring (10.6), assists (2.1) and steals (1.5). Ray was named Big 5 Rookie of the Year and was honorable mention All-Ivy in addition to becoming the first Ivy League man or woman ever named USBWA National Player of the Week.
Junior Alyssa Baron won the Team Leader award. In her first season as captain, she was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy honoree and a first-team All-Big 5 selection. She led the Quakers in scoring (14.1), assists (3.8), steals (1.9), assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.3) and rebounding (6.4).
Sophomore Kara Bonenberger was Penn's Defensive Player of the Year. She had 49 blocks on the season - tied for third-most in a single season at Penn - and was also second on the team in rebounding (5.2). Offensively, Bonenberger had the team's top field goal percentage (.431) and was third in scoring (9.1).
Sophomores Kathleen Roche and Courtney Wilson split the team's Most Improved award. Roche started 30 games - third-most in single-season school history - and made a team-high 48 threes - ninth-most in single-season school history. Meanwhile, Wilson registered 43 blocks which ranked second in the Ivy League and is sixth-most all-time at Penn in a single season. She also set career highs in points (123), rebounds (80), assists (14) and steals (15).
Bradford and Davis each gave a speech to conclude the banquet. Both of them also wrote a senior tribute that was featured in the banquet program and is shown below:
#10 Brianna Bradford
My four years playing basketball at Penn were unforgettable. It’s been an exciting ride, to say the least. The adversity fought, the victories celebrated, and the losses mourned have all prepared me for whatever life has in store in the coming years. To my parents—THANK YOU! Having you at almost every home game supporting me was amazing, even though I swear you secretly liked the two hour road trip. Your guidance over the past four years has been invaluable. Another thank you to my siblings and other family and friends who took the time to come watch us play, you really made those games extra special for me. McKenzie, you’ve been dragged to basketball games since birth. Literally. From Jonathan to Jared to me. So thanks for coming to cheer me on one last time. Coaches, I cannot thank you enough. I’ve witnessed firsthand how this program has grown by leaps and bounds and it was incredibly special to be a part of. Teammates, my time here would not have been the same without you. You made my Penn experience, and I am going to miss you all terribly. And to Katie—we’ve come so far it’s hard to think we’re physically parting ways for a while. Thank you for being such a rock and an amazing best friend. All of my memories here are deeply ingrained in my mind. I love that Penn basketball is now part of who I am.
#11 Katie Davis
To play an Ivy League sport is a feat in itself. To play arguably the longest and most grueling sport at Penn is an even bigger feat in my opinion. And after having completed my four years, I can say that I did this. But I couldn’t have done it alone in any capacity. To my teammates – thank you for sacrificing your time and bodies every day to make the past years and especially my senior year truly special. The laughs we shared in the locker room and the successes we felt on the court will be some of my best memories from college. I will no doubt remember the times of defeat as well and in that, learning resiliency and strength of character. The camaraderie our team possesses is unlike anything I’ve experienced playing team sports and I hope it persists. I think this spirit makes us work extremely hard for each other in the weight room and in the off-season and gives us support to endure the months of season. To my parents – thank you for allowing me the opportunity to attend such a prestigious institution and supporting me in every way along this journey. To the coaching staff – thank you for being so dedicated and supportive. I appreciate that you allowed me to lead such a great group of girls in my time here. Finally, to Bri – I wouldn’t have picked anyone else to spend the past four years of college and basketball with. Knowing I always had your support gave me confidence to try new things and grow as a person. I am confident that this group will be wildly successful in their future endeavors, a huge part of their strength and drive coming from being a part of the tradition that is Penn Basketball.
A complete list of the awards handed out Sunday:
2013 Team Awards:
Harshberger-Johnson-Brendel Prize for Sportsmanship, Loyalty and Leadership in Basketball - Katie Davis
Epton-Tarr Award - Brianna Bradford
Impact Player of the Year - Keiera Ray
Defensive Player of the Year - Kara Bonenberger
Team Leader - Alyssa Baron
Most Improved Player of the Year - Kathleen Roche & Courtney Wilson
Miss Intangible - Brianna Bradford