Women's Basketball Drops Big 5 Opener, 60-45

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PHILADELPHIA - In the Big 5 opener for both teams, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team gave up an early run to to Saint Joseph's and couldn't complete the second half comeback attempt in a 60-45 defeat Tuesday night at The Palestra.

Junior Jess Knapp recorded her third career double-double and second this season with 13 points and a team-high 12 rebounds as Penn fell to 2-5 on the year and 0-1 in Big 5 play. The Hawks improved to 5-3 and 1-0 in the Big 5.

Exactly three minutes in, freshman Alyssa Baron hit a three for Penn's first points to tie the game. Saint Joseph's scored on two straight possessions to go up five and maintained that advantage for the next five minutes as the teams traded buckets.

Then the Hawks pulled away. A 12-0 run in which they held Penn scoreless for more than six minutes, gave the visitors a 24-9 lead with 6:40 to play in the first half.

Baron broke the run and the scoreless drought with a three at the 5:56 mark and after the ensuing Hawks turnover, Baron connected with senior Jerin Smith for a layup to pull Penn within 24-14. Following a St. Joseph's shot clock violation, freshman Meghan McCullough hit a deep three with a hand in her face and the Red and Blue were down just seven.

With the Hawks leading 26-19 with 3:47 left, they scored nine of the last 11 points of the half to take a 35-21 lead into intermission.

McCullough opened the scoring in the second half with a layup to get the deficit down to 12, but the Hawks scored the next five for their largest lead of the game, 40-23, with 17 minutes remaining.

Penn responded with its best stretch of the game. Baron hit a three, Brianna Bradford hit a corner jumper, Knapp hit two free throws and Courtney Wilson knocked down a three right in front of the Penn bench. Knapp then hit two more free throws and the 12-2 run had the Red and Blue within 42-35 with 12:32 to go.

Saint Joseph's scored the next four and didn't let the Quakers within nine after that point. Penn was down just 10, 54-44, with 5:16 to play, but the Hawks scored six straight to put the game out of reach and won by 15.

Baron finished with a game-high 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 night from three-point range. She also added five rebounds - second on the team behind Knapp. Baron and Knapp also each had a team-high two assists. McCullough added seven points, two steals and three rebounds.

Penn shot just 28 percent (7-of-25) in the first half and finished at 30.6 percent (15-of-49). The Quakers were on target from beyond the three-point line, hitting at a season-high clip of 62.5 percent (5-of-8). Meanwhile, the Hawks shot 60 percent (15-of-25) in the opening 20 minutes and finished at 49 percent (24-of-49). Penn had 10 assists on their 15 baskets, but were outscored in the paint, 24-16, and off the bench, 18-5. Both teams finished with 28 rebounds.

Penn has one more game before a 19-day layoff for the holiday break. The Quakers host Maine on Friday at 7 p.m. It is also Community Night and all schools, community groups, church groups, youth teams etc., can receive free admission. Click here for more information.

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