PHILADELPHIA - A first-half barrage of three-pointers was the difference as the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team fell to Villanova, 70-44, in the Big 5 finale at The Palestra on Wednesday night.
Penn (8-6) will share its first-ever Big 5 title with Villanova (11-8) as both teams finished 3-1 in city conference play (Saint Joseph's can also finish 3-1 with a win over La Salle later this season). The Quakers, who had never won the city championship prior to this season, set a school record with three Big 5 wins in a season.
How it Happened
Penn's school record four-game Big 5 winning streak was snapped largely due to a bombardment of threes. Sophomore Sydney Stipanovich scored the first bucket of the game with a long jumper from the wing, but Villanova scored the next 14 points - anchored by four threes - and led 14-2 at the 15:01 mark.
Senior captain Kara Bonenberger ended that Wildcats spurt with a jumper, but Nova answered with two more threes in the next three minutes to take a 24-8 advantage with 12:09 remaining in the half.
Senior Kathleen Roche and Bonenberger, who led the Quakers with 13 points, scored to get Penn within 10 midway through the half. The teams traded buckets and the Quakers had several possessions with a chance to get within single digits, but the Wildcats maintained that edge and led 39-27 at the break.
Unfortunately for the Quakers, Villanova's hot streak did not end at the half. The Wildcats promptly hit a three on the first possession of the second half. The deficit grew to 55-35 after the first seven minutes and was as large as 30, 70-40, before freshman Lauren Whitlatch hit her first career three and freshman Michelle Nwokedi scored her seventh point of the game to cap the scoring.
Inside the Numbers
Bonenberger's 13 points brings her within 41 points of 1,000 for her career. Stipanovich added eight points and a team-high seven rebounds. Roche and Nwokedi had Penn's only blocked shots, while freshman Beth Brzozowski had two of the team's three steals in addition to five points. Senior captain Katy Allen matched a career high with four assists to lead the Quakers.
Villanova shot nearly 60 percent in the first half and finished the game at 29-of-58 (50.0%). The Wildcats made eight of their first 13 threes and then finished 9-for-21 (42.9%) for the game. Penn was 17-of-57 (29.8%) from the field and 2-of-14 (14.3%) from three. Both teams had just seven turnovers, and the Wildcats held a slight rebounding edge, 39-36.
Penn wraps up its non-league schedule with a road contest at NJIT on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Download: 14 - Villanova Box.pdf