Women's Basketball Advances to WBI Quarterfinals, 65-60

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March Total: 7
Season Total: 40

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PHILADELPHIA - Four Quakers scored in double figures to lead the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team to its first-ever postseason win. The second-seeded Quakers outlasted seventh-seeded Howard, 65-60, on Thursday night in the First Round of the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) at The Palestra.

Penn, which has now won 17 games for just the fourth time in program history, advances to play Fairfield at home on Saturday at 7 p.m. The third-seeded Stags topped sixth-seeded St. Francis (Pa.), 71-51 on Thursday in Connecticut. It will mark the first all-time meeting between Penn and Fairfield.

Senior captain Brianna Bradford set a program postseason record with a career-high five threes and finished with a team-best 16 points. She and junior center Courtney Wilson, who finished with a career-high 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, sparked the Quakers off the bench. Those two alone outscored the Bison subs, 27-10.

In their first game in nine days, the Quakers got off to a slow start. Howard jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the first four minutes. But Bradford checked in and hit her first two threes of the night to spark a 20-4 run. Wilson added six points in that stretch and her last jumper had Penn on top, 21-14 at the 7:05 mark.

The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half until head coach Mike McLaughlin called a timeout with eight seconds remaining. He drew up a play for sophomore Kathleen Roche who buried a three as the buzzer sounded and put Penn up 36-28 heading into the break.

The Bison nearly erased all that deficit within the first four minutes of the second half. Howard started 8-of-9 (88%) from three-point range on the night and a pair of early second-half threes closed the Penn advantage to 41-40.

Penn never relinquished the lead though. After a pair of free throws from junior captain Alyssa Baron, Wilson hit a three for a six-point lead with 14:11 to go.

Neither team missed much on the night and the Red and Blue once again traded baskets with Howard over the next several minutes. The lead was still six, 55-49, when sophomore Katy Allen sunk two free throws and Bradford drained another three for the largest lead of the night, 60-49, with 6:42 remaining.

Leading by 10, 62-52, with 3:12 to play, Howard put on an aggresive full court press. It led to a quick 8-0 run and the MEAC opponent was within 62-60 with 1:20 left.

Sophomore Keiera Ray came down with a big offensive rebound on the ensuing possession and that led directly to a lay-in from sophomore Kara Bonenberger for a four-point edge with 43 seconds remaining.

Howard had three shots from beyond the arc on their final possession, but none fell and the Quakers held on for their eighth non-league win of the season - second-most all-time.

Baron and Bonenberger each finished with 10 points. Baron and Wilson added a team-high five rebounds. Baron had five assists and Ray had four. Bonenberger and Wilson, who finished first and second in the Ivy League in blocks, respectively, had two apiece on the night.

In its fourth season, the WBI is a 16-team tournament split into two regions. Minnesota, who qualified for the WNIT this season, is the defending champion. The winner of the Penn-Fairfield matchup will play either top-seeded Detroit or No.5 seed College of Charlston in the WBI semifinals.

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