PHILADELPHIA - In the Ivy opener for both teams, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team fell to Princeton, 84-53, in a Saturday matinee at The Palestra.
The loss ended an eight-game winning streak for the Quakers and marked Penn's first defeat since Nov. 23, 2013 against No. 5 Notre Dame. It was the second-longest winning streak in school history. Despite the loss, Penn has still tied the 1974-75 team for the best 11-game start in school history at 8-3. Princeton improved to 10-5 with the win.
The Quakers looked sharp in the opening minutes as senior captain Meghan McCullough and junior guard Kathleen Roche each buried a three for a 6-3 lead. Penn was up 7-5 at the 16:27 mark, but just as the Quakers went cold, the Tigers got hot. Princeton went on a 16-0 run over the next five minutes and led 21-7.
Penn scored five in a row on a three-point play from senior Alyssa Baron - which moved her into the Ivy League's top 25 in career scoring - and a fastbreak layup from Keiera Ray. That made it 21-12 with 10:04 left in the first half, but that was the final time the Quakers were within single digits.
The teams played even throughout the rest of the half. Penn was never closer than 11, but never down by more than 15 - when the Tigers led 32-17. Penn scored seven of the next 10 and trailed 35-24 with 1:55 until the half, but Princeton pushed the lead back to 13, 38-25, at the break.
Junior guard Katy Allen started the second half with a three. But the Red and Blue dould not break the deficit into single digits. They had several opportunities in the first half, but after junior forward Kara Bonenberger finished off a layup to pull within 44-33 at the 16:31 mark, Princeton scored five straight.
Penn was within 53-41 after a layup from Baron with 12:17 remaining, but the Tigers put the game away with a 20-2 run. Princeton's lead then hovered around 30 for the final seven minutes.
Inside the Numbers
Bonenberger and Baron each led the Quakers with 10 points. Bonenberger also added eight rebounds in 28 minutes, while Baron pulled down five. McCullough had nine points, four rebounds and a team-high four assists. Freshman Sydney Stipanovich played 29 minutes and finished with five points, eight rebounds and a game-high two blocks.
Princeton shot 43.9 percent from the floor (29-of-66), including 7-of-17 (41.2%) from three. Penn was 18-of-59 (30.5%) overall and 5-of-19 (26.3%) from beyond the arc. The Tigers made 86 percent from the charity stripe, while the Quakers made just 52 percent from that mark. Princeton outrebounded the Quakers, 48-37, and the Quakers had nearly twice as many turnovers at 17-9.
Penn will compete for its first-ever Big 5 title. Penn plays three straight opponents from the Philadelphia basketball conference—all on the road and all of them rank in the top 35 in the RPI. The Quakers are 1-0 in the Big 5 with a win over La Salle and have Villanova (Wednesday, 7 p.m.), Saint Joseph’s (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Temple (Jan. 22, 7 p.m.) remaining on the schedule.
“This is a difficult part of our schedule,” head coach Mike McLaughlin said. “Obviously, we have Villanova, St. Joe’s and Temple within the next week so regardless of who you are, that’s tough. All three are on the road. (But) it is fun. The Big 5 is separate from anything that any of the schools in our league experience. Big competition always makes you better in the end."
“And we’re not going change what we do. We practice hard, we compete hard, we play hard. The girls are phenomenal in what they do. One game is not going to define us. We’re not going to let it happen. We’ll get back at this on Monday and we’ll prepare but hopefully...we’ll learn a great deal from today."
Fan Tweet of the Game:
— Penn Gymnastics (@PennGym) January 11, 2014