PHILADELPHIA - The score doesn't always tell the story. But it sure is accurate in this case. The University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team was every bit as dominant as the 29-point victory would indicate. The Quakers trounced first-place and previously unbeaten Harvard, 67-38, at The Palestra on Saturday night - the largest margin of victory in series history for the Quakers.
Penn (12-5, 2-1 Ivy), which put on a show for a number of former Quakers who were back in Philadelphia for the program's annual Alumni Weekend, has won four straight and 12 of its last 15. Harvard lost its first Ivy game of the season and fell to 13-5 overall and 3-1 in league play. That has caused a bottleneck atop the Ivy standings. Every team has at least one loss.
It was a complete team effort as the Quakers cluttered the box score. But we'll get to the offensive numbers - highlighted junior Kara Bonenberger's double-double and freshman Sydney Stipanovich's near triple-double - this one was about a dominant defensive effort.
Harvard entered the game second in the Ivy League in scoring, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and rebounding margin. On Saturday...
...The Quakers, who had never before held Harvard under 50 points in Ivy play, kept the Crimson to 38 points in 40 minutes - more than 30 points below their season scoring average.
...The Crimson shot at a 43 percent clip entering the game, including 35 percent from three, but Penn held Harvard to 18.3 percent (13-of-71) from the field and 5-of-28 (17.9%) from three.
...Penn outrebounded the Crimson, 55-45. Entering the game, Harvard had outrebounded opponents by an average of eight per game.
Stipanovich had much to do with all of that. She had nine blocks - which tied for third-most in an Ivy League game and broke the school record she set exactly one week earlier.
Offensively, the Quakers showed incredible depth. Five players scored in double figures led by Stipanovich, who filled the stat sheet again for the Quakers. She finished with a game-high 15 points to go with nine rebounds. In addition to her program-record nine blocked shots, she nearly became the first Penn player to ever record a triple-double.
Senior guard Meghan McCullough was one rebound shy of her first career double-double and added 11 points and a game-high five assists. Senior guard Alyssa Baron also added 11 points and scored the 1,600th point of her career - just the fourth Penn player and 21st Ivy Leaguer to ever do so. She was joined by junior guard Renee Busch, who also had 11 off the bench behind three first-half threes. Not to be outdone, junior forward Kara Bonenberger rounded out the Quakers in double figures with 10 points, registering her second double-double of the season with 12 rebounds in addition to two blocks.
Penn shot better than 50 percent in the second half and was 20-of-55 (36.4%) overall and 6-of18 (33.3%) from three.
How it Happened
Penn's defense set the tone early. Harvard had just six points in the first 10 minutes of the game. But the Quakers struggled during that time as well. Penn started 1-for-11 from the field and it was just a two-point game, 8-6.
Busch proved to be the spark for the Red and Blue. She buried two straight threes and the Quakers opened up a 14-9 edge at the 7:05 mark. A few minutes later, with Penn up seven, Busch swished another three for a 21-11 lead.
Harvard closed to within 21-14 at the break, but it still marked the fewest points Penn has allowed at the half this year.
It was a nine-point game, 27-18, three minutes into the second stanza when Baron, Stipanovich and Bonenberger scored consecutively to give the Quakers their largest lead, 33-18.
That grew to 20 when two senior captains and a freshman sent The Palestra crowd into a frenzy. McCullough crossed over her defender, who fell down, and McCullough promptly knocked down a three. Then after another Stipanovich block, Baron hit a three of her own for a 41-21 lead with 12:28 to go.
Harvard briefly got the lead down to 16 with 7:03 to play, but an 11-0 run put a cap on an impressive night. McCullough and Stipanovich combined for had nine points in that stretch and Penn led 57-30 at the 3:40 mark. The largest lead of the game was the final margin.
- This is the second straight home sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth. Penn had only done that once before in its history (1984-85).
- This marks Penn's first back-to-back home wins over Harvard since 1999-2001.
- Stipanovich's nine blocks are the fifth-most by an Ivy Leaguer in any game (league and non-conference).
- Penn’s 11 total blocks tied a team record that has been set four times, most recently against Norfolk State on Jan. 5.
- Penn’s 55 rebounds is a team record under Coach McLaughlin.
- Penn has had five players score in double figures in two of the last three games and four players have done so in three straight games.
- The annual Red vs. Blue alumni game took place Saturday afternoon and actually ended in a tie, 45-45. The Red and Blue teams had split victories the previous two years.
Its the first Ivy League road trip of the season. Penn takes the tour through the Empire State with a stop in Ithaca, N.Y., on Friday to take on Cornell, and then on to New York City to face Columbia. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. and can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Fan Tweet(s) of the Game:
@PennWBB — Chaz Howard (@Chaz_Howard) February 2, 2014
@PennWBB way to go! You guys rock! #pennpride— Mark Fabish (@Coach_Fab) February 2, 2014
What a game! @pennwbb dominated Harvard tonight at The Palestra! #FightOnPenn http://t.co/bOKFvZF3ND— Kassy McAloon (@Kassy_Mae) February 2, 2014
Awesome game, @PennWBB! #fightonpenn— Amanda Suarez (@AmandaMSuarez) February 2, 2014
the @PennWBB team has made me like sports #amazingwin— Kelly Ha (@kellynaeun) February 2, 2014
Congratulations to @PennWBB! An incredible win over Harvard!!!! #pennpride #FightOn— Penn Cheer (@Penn_Cheer) February 2, 2014