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December Total: 5
Season Total: 21
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. - A dominating defensive effort and a career-high 23 points from freshman Alyssa Baron led the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team to a runaway win, 66-38, over St. Francis (N.Y.) Wednesday night at the Pope Physical Education Center in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.
With their first back-to-back wins since a three-game streak at the end of the 2008-09 campaign, the Quakers improved to 4-5 on the year. The 21-point win marked the first time in 30 years that the Quakers won two straight games by at least 20 points. It was Penn's largest win since 2006 when it beat Rider by the same score on Jan. 10. St. Francis, which went the first 11 minutes of the second half without a field goal, fell to 1-9 on the season.
The lead changed hands several times in the first few minutes. Then Kristen Kody knocked down a three from the corner to spark a 17-3 run. Leading by one at the 15:15 mark, Penn scored 10 unanswered. Baron hit a jumper, Meghan McCullough went coast-to-coast off a steal, Jess Knapp hit back-to-back buckets and Jourdan Banks had a lay-in for a 19-8 lead with 11:18 remaining in the half.
The Quakers scored four of the next five and led 23-9 with 9:16 left in the half. During the run, St. Francis went nearly six minutes without a point and was held without a field goal for nearly 11 minutes. Until the Terriers broke the streak with a three at the 4:17 mark, they had made just two field goals during the first 15 minutes.
Following that run, the Quakers were held to just five free throws over the next eight minutes and the Terriers closed the deficit to 28-19. Baron snapped Penn out of the drought with a three and a minute later, she converted a three-point play with one second remaining in the half to give the Red and Blue a double-digit lead into intermission for the second straight game, 36-21.
Penn dominated the second half. The Red and Blue scored the first four and after two Terriers free throws, the Quakers scored the next 12 for a 52-23 lead with 8:51 to play. St. Francis made their first field goal of the half - a three-pointer - at the 8:34 mark. Shortly thereafter, McCullough hit a pair of free throws to give Penn its largest lead of the season, 56-26 with 7:27 to go.
The Terriers scored five straight, but sophomore Katie Davis sunk the first three-pointer of her collegiate career to put the Red and Blue back up 18. Freshman Courtney Wilson and senior Jerin Smith also got into the scoring column with Penn's last two baskets as nine of the 11 Quakers scored and 10 of the 11 recorded a rebound.
Baron reached 20 points for the third time in her career on 8-for-14 shooting. She added five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 32 minutes. Senior Erin Power led the team with seven rebounds while adding eight points and two assists. McCullough had a team-high four assists to go along with her six points, three steals and four rebounds.
The Quakers shot 47 percent (22-of-47) from the field, while St. Francis was just 26 percent (12-of-46). Penn outrebounded the Terriers 41-28 and outscored the home team in the paint, 26-10.
The victory also put Penn at 5-0 all-time against the Terriers and marked the first time Penn has won four games before January since the 2006-07 season. The last time the Quakers won back-to-back games by 20 points or more was in March of 1980. Penn beat Cornell 70-46 and Brown the next night, 83-63.
Next on the slate for the Quakers is a trip to Lafayette on Sunday. In their first game of 2011, the Quakers will tip off with the Leopards in Easton, Pa., at 1 p.m.