LEWISBURG, Pa. - A big effort from a big frontcourt propelled the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team to a big road win over Bucknell, 69-61, at Sojka Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
Freshman forward Sydney Stipanovich posted her first collegiate double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds - both career highs. Meanwhile, junior forward Kara Bonenberger poured in another 16 points as the duo guided Penn to its third straight win.
Penn's frontcourt also played a major role defensively as the Quakers held Bucknell (4-5) to just three offensive rebounds and zero second-chance points. During one stretch, Bucknell, who entered the game unbeaten at home, went nearly 18 minutes without a field goal and trailed the Quakers by as many as 24.
The Bison pushed the tempo from the tip and both sides got off to a hot start. Bonenberger carried the Quakers early with eight of the team's first 11 points. With the teams trading baskets, the lead changed hands eight times in the first 10 minutes. The Bison held their largest advantage, 16-13, after a layup at the 13:04 mark. They would not make another shot until there was 15:52 left in the game.
Penn capitalized. A 28-4 run spanned the two halves. With the score tied at 19-19 the Quakers scored 13 of the last 15 points over the final 8:42 of the first half. Five different Quakers scored in that stretch. Freshman Stephanie Cheney started with a tough bucket in the lane, senior captain Meghan McCullough hit a three, senior captain Courtney Wilson buried a jumper, Bonenberger converted a layup and senior captain Alyssa Baron had four of her team-high 18 points.
The Quakers led 32-23 at the break and promptly scored the first 15 points of the second half. Junior guard Kathleen Roche knocked down a three from the top of the key to start the run and Stipanovich scored six of the last eight to give the Red and Blue a 47-23 lead with 16:00 left.
The lead remained steady for the next several minutes. Penn was still up 24, 55-31, after a steal and layup from Baron with 10:23 to go.
But Penn's top three leading scorers in the game, Baron, Bonenberger and Stipanovich all found themselves in foul trouble - each had four with nearly five minutes to play. At that point, Bucknell had chipped Penn's lead down to 15. Penn went the next four minutes without a point and the Bison scored nine in a row to trail just 65-59 with 41 seconds left.
However, a couple key stops and free throws from Baron and Bonenberger finally put the game away for the Quakers.
Penn finished 25-of-64 (39.1%) from the floor and 3-of-16 (18.8%) from three-point range, while Bucknell was 19-of-47 (40.4%) overall and 4-of-12 (33.3%) from three. Penn won the rebounding battle, 42-32 and outscored the hosts, 38-24, in the paint. Penn also forced 21 turnovers.
Cheney had a career-high five rebounds in five minutes off the bench. Baron and McCullough each had a game-high four steals, while Roche contributed nine points, three rebounds and three assists.
Following this stretch of three games (and wins) in six days, the Quakers will have a bit of a breather before they host Army at The Palestra on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The game can be seen on the Penn Sports Network.