Women's Basketball Falls to Hot-Shooting Highlanders, 74-63

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Season Total: 12

Box Score

Postgame with Coach McLaughlin

NEWARK, N.J. - An extremely hot shooting NJIT team lit up the gym in the first half and didn't let up on the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team in the second frame as the Quakers fell to the Highlanders, 74-63, Saturday afternoon at Fleisher Athletic Center in Newark, N.J.

The Highlanders, who improved to 1-4 this season, shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in the opening half and finished at a 51-percent clip for the game. They hit from everywhere on the floor as only six of their 29 baskets came from inside the paint. The 74 points were the most surrendered by Penn (2-2) this season. The 29 made field goals for NJIT were the most allowed by Penn in 32 games under Mike McLaughlin, who coached in his 500th career game Saturday.

The teams swapped baskets through the first media timeout before back-to-back buckets by freshman Alyssa Baron and junoir Jourdan Banks gave Penn an 8-4 lead. However, five points in a span of 30 seconds put NJIT in front, 9-8, with just more than six minutes gone in the first half.

Penn had the lead back at 12-11 following a Baron lay-in, but the Highlanders got hot. They hit six of their next seven shots and went on an 11-0 run over the next four minutes to gain a 22-12 advantage with 7:48 to play in the opening half.

A few minutes later, with NJIT on top, 26-17, Baron hit a three from the near corner. Then after a defensive stop, the Quakers pushed the ball up the floor and freshman Meghan McCullough found fellow freshman Kristen Kody open in the far corner for Kody's first career three-pointer. The back-to-back threes had Penn within three, 26-23, at the 4:09 mark.

Penn was within one, 30-29, when Jerin Smith powered her way for two with a little more than a minute to go in the half. But six straight points from the Highlanders gave them a 36-29 halftime edge.

The hot shooting continued for NJIT to start the second half and the Highlanders built a double-digit lead within the first two minutes. A pair of free throws had Penn within 40-32, but after a quick bucket from NJIT, it took more than 10 minutes for the Quakers to cut the deficit to single digits again.

The NJIT lead grew to as many as 15 with just more than seven minutes remaining, but Banks hit two free throws and a layup between a basket from Knapp and Penn was within 63-54 with 5:15 left.

The momentum was short lived. NJIT scored nine of the next 11 points to go ahead 72-56 with 3:06 to play.

Penn scored the next seven - five on free throws - but it was too late for the Red and Blue as NJIT held on for the 74-63 victory.

Baron led the Quakers as she matched a career high with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Banks finished one shy of a career best with 12 points, while Power led the team with nine rebounds. Power and Baron each had a team-high three assists. Kody had a collegiate-best nine points in addition to two rebounds and an assist. Freshman Courtney Wilson had her first career basket and added a personal-best four rebounds.

Though it wasn't enough to keep up, Penn also shot well, going 20-for-50 from the floor (40%) and 4-for-8 from three (50%). The Quakers had 11 assists on those 20 baskets and also outrebounded the Highlanders, 33-32. However, the Red and Blue did have 16 turnovers and forced just nine by NJIT.

On Tuesday, Penn hosts its first home game in 18 days against Niagara at The Palestra. The first-ever matchup with the Purple Eagles is the first of a Penn basketball doubleheader. The Penn women tip at 4:30 p.m. and the Penn men tip at 7 p.m. against UMBC.

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