Women's Basketball Battles Past LIU, 70-59

: 1
December Total: 2

Season Total: 4

PHILADELPHIA - A sloppy start was undone with a strong second half as the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team battled past LIU Brooklyn, 70-57, on Thursday night at The Palestra.

The Quakers, who won their second straight and first at home this season, struggled at the start with seven turnovers and no field goals over the first six minutes. However, over the final 34 minutes, the Red and Blue had just eight turnovers and turned a double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead.

Junior forward Kara Bonenberger, who finished with 13 points and a team-best eight rebounds and three assists, had Penn's only point over the first seven minutes. Freshman Sydney Stipanovich, who also had 13 points and added seven boards, recorded Penn's first field goal and the Quakers trailed 9-3.

The Quakers continued to struggle throughout much of the opening half as the Blackbirds built a 19-9 advantage with 8:31 left. Penn tried to chip away but the teams mostly traded baskets until the final minute. The Quakers scored four of the last five points to pull within 33-27 at intermission.

Penn (2-2) looked like a different team in the second half. Bonenberger and junior Kathleen Roche started the half with back-to-back layups to spark a 13-4 run. A Baron three gave the Quakers their first lead of the day, 38-37, with 15:37 to play.

LIU Brooklyn (0-7) chipped away and tied the game four minutes later. Penn maintained a slim lead through the next media timeout and led 50-49 at the 6:26 mark.

From there, the Quakers asserted themselves. Sophomore guard Rayne Connell had a pair of free throws to start a 12-2 run. Junior Katy Allen had four points in that stretch and capped the run with a driving layup for a 62-51 advantage with just 2:58 to go.

The Blackbirds pulled within 6, 65-59 with 1:15 to play, but never scored again. Stipanovich and senior captain Meghan McCullough put the game away from the charity stripe.

Penn finished 19-of-49 (38.8%) from the field and 2-of-14 (14.3%) from three. The Blackbirds were nearly identical at 23-of-59 (39.0%) overall and 3-of-14 (21.4%) from three. Penn ultimately benefited from getting to the charity stripe where they made 30-of-38 (78.9%). It matched the most free throws made under head coach Mike McLaughlin.

The Quakers held the rebounding advantage, 38-34, and forced 18 turnovers.

Senior Alyssa Baron was instrumental in the second half surge. Eleven of her team-high 15 points came in the final 20 minutes. Defensively, all three of her team-best three steals came in the second half as well. Allen finished with seven points and five rebounds, while Roche contributed five points and five boards. Off the bench, Connell and freshman Melanie Lockett each had four points.

On Saturday, the Quakers will leave Philadelphia for the first time this year when they head to Lewisburg, Pa. The Red and Blue tip off at Bucknell at 4 p.m. Fans can watch the game for free on the Patriot League Network.

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