January Total: 4
Season Total: 25
PHILADELPHIA - Facing a zone defense and an opportunistic offense, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team just could not find the answers Sunday and were outdone by a fundamentally sound Cornell squad, 67-53, in a Palestra matinee.
In front of the largest home crowd of the year, the Quakers struggled to get any momentum. Cornell (8-9, 2-1 Ivy) exploited Penn's recent offensive troubles with a 2-3 zone defense. Penn took a season-high 27 threes, but made just six (22.2%).
Conversely, Cornell took advantage of Penn's weakend defensive frontcourt. Senior forward and co-captain Jess Knapp played for the second straight game on two torn knee ligaments and was limited to 12 minutes of action with four rebounds. Prior to her injury, she led the team in rebounding and blocked shots.
Without her in the paint, Cornell outscored Penn 28-14 in that area. Overall, the Big Red were phenomenally efficient from the field as they connected on 57.1 percent (24-of-42) of their shots.
Sophomore Alyssa Baron kept the Quakers in the contest with a game-high 24 points and a team-high six rebounds and three steals, but a blanced Big Red attack proved too much.
The Quakers (8-9, 1-2 Ivy) scored six straight - a layup from freshman Renee Busch, a jumper from freshman Kara Bonenberger and a bucket from Baron - to take an early 8-4 lead at the 13:04 mark.
A few minutes later, sophomore Brianna Bradford came off the bench to sink a three and give the Red and Blue an 11-6 edge.
The lead was 13-10 when Cornell's offense took over. The Big Red dissected the Ivy League's top defense and scored on nine straight possessions to end the half.
Baron hit three straight jumpers for Penn, but Cornell continued to score and grew its lead to 28-21 at intermission.
Cornell's zone held the Quakers without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the second half. Freshman Jackie Kates broke the drought with a long two, but the Big Red lead had grown to 39-25 at that point.
Trailing 41-28, Penn scored six in a row to get within eight, but Cornell immediately got its lead back to double digits.
Penn made one more run. Down 50-37 with 8:02 to play, Baron hit two threes, followed by a long distance trey from Kates for a 9-3 run.
However, the seven-point deficit turned into 14 with seven straight points from the Big Red. The Quakers were never closer than 12 the rest of the way.
Baron has continued to excel on the defensive end as well. She led the team in rebounding for the third time in the last four games and also leads the team in blocked shots this year - she had the team's only block on Sunday. Kates, who had a team-high three assists, finished with 10 points to register her third straight game in double figures. Freshman Katy Allen added seven points for the Quakers. Cornell outrebounded the Quakers, 31-27.
Next weekend, the Quakers wrap up a five-game Ivy homestand. Penn welcomes Yale and Brown to The Palestra on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The matchup with the Bears also serves as Penn's annual Pink Zone game. All proceeds from that game go toward the fight against breast cancer.