PHILADELPHIA - It was deja vu. For the third time in a week, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team was tied in the final minutes of a Big 5 road game. The first two ended in heartbreak. But on Wednesday, senior captain Alyssa Baron converted a game-winning three-point play in the final minute to propel the Quakers to a 74-70 win over Temple at McGonigle Hall.
For just the second time in the program's 44-year history, Penn (9-5, 2-2 Big 5) won a pair of Big 5 games in the same season. The Quakers also matched a school record with their ninth non-conference victory, and with the first win over Temple since Dec. 9, 2003, the Red and Blue also won two Big 5 road games for the first time in school history.
On Friday, Penn was tied at Saint Joseph's with under two minutes to play and trailed by two with a half-minute remaining, but ultimately fell by eight. Last Wednesday, the Quakers lost by one at Villanova when Baron's last-second shot fell short.
Exactly one week later, Baron had the ball in her hands with the game on the line again. Temple had just buried a game-tying three when Baron took a handoff near the top of the key from fellow senior captain Meghan McCullough and drove to her right. She was fouled on a driving layup which banked off the backboard and fell safely through the nylon for a two-point lead. She then sunk the free throw -- she was 7-of-7 from the charity stripe on the night -- and put Penn up 73-70 with 30 seconds remaining.
Temple (10-8, 1-3 Big 5) attempted to tie the game from three-point range again, but missed. Freshman Sydney Stipanovich, who had a double-double in her first career start, sunk a free throw with 11 seconds to go to ice the game.
However, Stipanovich and junior Kara Bonenberger helped aleviate that loss with a pair of double-doubles. The duo combined for 30 points, 22 rebounds, seven blocks and six assists.
But it was Baron who carried the Quakers at the start. Temple looked like they might run away early with a 12-4 lead in the first five minutes. But Baron accounted for the first five Penn field goals -- she made three and assisted on the other two.
That kept Penn in it and catapulted an 18-6 run. Stipanovich capped that spurt with a layup and the Quakers led 22-18 with 4:50 left in the opening half.
The teams traded buckets until intermission. Stipanovich's mid-range jumper just before the buzzer gave the Quakers a 30-26 lead at the break.
Temple found some momentum early in the second half when its full court pressure forced some miscues. The Owls started on a 9-4 run and regained the lead, 35-34.
However, McCullough and the Quakers managed the pressure well throughout. Penn had a season-low nine turnovers against a heavy dose of press. In moments, McCullough had Penn back on top with a three.
The lead jostled back-and-forth until a 10-2 run put the Owls up 49-42 with 13:18 to play. But as they have done throughout the year, the Quakers came roaring back.
In just four minutes, Penn was back in the lead. Sophomore Rayne Connell sparked an 8-0 run with a runner in the lane and then her baseline drive had the Red and Blue on top, 55-54 with 9:16 remaining.
Once again, the lead traded hands several times -- 11 times in all on the night, plus eight ties.
Temple went up 64-62 on a three-pointer, but clutch free throws carried the Quakers down the stretch. Bonenberger sunk a pair on the ensuing possession to tie it with 4:10 to go. After a defensive stop, Baron also hit two from the charity stripe. When Temple tied it again, McCullough stepped to the line with 2:23 to go and calmly made both of her free throws for a 68-66 edge.
When Temple made only 1-of-2 from the line, Stipanovich pulled down the rebound and 30 seconds later, gave Penn a three-point lead, 70-67, with a layup at the 1:48 mark.
A minute later, the Owls tied it - which led to Baron's eventual game-winner.
Inside the Numbers
Bonenberger was 9-of-13 from the field and finished with season highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds for her fourth career double-double, while Stipanovich picked up the third of her rookie campaign with 17 points and 10 rebounds in addition to five blocks. Baron had a game-high 21 points, four rebounds and three assists. McCullough led the Quakers with five assists.
Penn was proficient in the second half. The Quakers were 15-of-29 (51.7%) from the field and finished 29-of-64 (45.3%) overall. They were also 14-of-18 (77.8%) from the free throw line, including 7-of-8 in the final five minutes. Temple was 30-of-78 (38.5%) from the field. The hosts missed all eight of their threes in the first half, but were nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc in the second half to finish 5-of-19 (26.3%) from three. Penn was just 2-of-12 (16.7%) from that distance.
The Quakers were outrebounded 50-38, but had 17 assists and just those nine turnovers. Penn also had eight blocks to Temple's three.
- Penn led every Big 5 game at the half this year despite all four being played on the road.
- The only other time Penn won two Big 5 games in the same season was 2004-05 and the only other time the Quakers have won nine non-league games in a single season was in 1999-00.
- This was Penn's first game with two 20-point scorers since the same duo did so against Yale on March 8, 2013.
On Saturday, the Red and Blue host NJIT (5-17) in a doubleheader with the men at The Palestra. Tip off for the women's game is at 5 p.m., and will be followed by the men's matchup against the Highlanders.
Fan Tweet of the Game:
Stephen Baker (@Stephen_Baker10) January 23, 2014