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January Total: 10
Season Total: 31
PHILADELPHIA - It was a six-year wait for the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team in their quest to top a Big 5 opponent, but just three days after accomplishing that goal, the Quakers nearly knocked off another one. A strong defensive team effort and a career-high 23 points from freshman Alyssa Baron, came up just short in a 62-55 defeat to Temple Saturday afternoon at The Palestra.
The Quakers finished their non-conference slate at 6-8 and are 6-9 overall, including a 1-3 record in the Big 5. Temple won their sixth straight and improved to 13-6 and 2-0 in the Big 5.
It was a six-point game, 59-53, with one minute remaining. That's when senior Erin Power hit a pair of free throws and the deficit was just four. But the Quakers turned it over on their next two possessions and Temple hit some late free throws to hold off the Quakers.
Penn's defense, which ranked 15th in the nation in points allowed entering the game, was dominant at the start once again. And so were Penn's freshmen on the offensive end.
Temple scored first at the 17:43 mark and then scored on its next possession. However, other than three free throws, the Owls did not make another basket for the next five minutes.
Meanwhile, the Penn freshmen combined for the team's first 11 points. Meghan McCullough hit a three, Baron scored six straight and McCullough capped an 11-2 run with a running layup for an 11-4 lead with 13:14 to play in the opening half.
Temple scored eight straight to regain the lead, but junior Jourdan Banks scored the game's next five points and gave Penn a 16-12 lead with 7:28 to play in the first half.
The Owls, though, finished the half on an extended 19-6 run to take a 31-22 lead into the half.
Penn's defense responded again at the start of the second frame. The Quakers held the Owls to just a single basket in the first five minutes. That led to a 10-2 Penn run to start the half and pull the Quakers within one, 33-32.
Temple then converted a three-point play, but senior Caroline Nicholson and sophomore Brianna Bradford scored back-to-back buckets to tie the game, 36-36, just six minutes into the second half.
The team's alternated baskets for the next eight minutes and the Quakers were down just one, 41-40 with 9:10 to go. But Temple scored 11 of the next 12 points and took an 11-point lead, 52-41, with just under five to play.
Baron tried to bring the Quakers back. She scored seven straight for the Red and Blue and had Penn within 53-48 at the 3:33 mark. But after Power's free throws two minutes later, the Quakers got no closer.
Baron, who reached the 23-point mark for the third time in her career on 8-of-14 shooting, also had a career-high five assists and three steals to lead the Quakers. Nicholson and Power each had a team-high six rebounds, while Knapp had a game-high three blocked shots.
Temple finished the game at a clip of 33.8 percent (22-of-65) from the field, but were on target from three-point range at 42.1 percent (8-of-19). The Quakers finished 18-of-45 (40%) from the field. Temple outrebounded the Quakers, 45-31.
Penn heads into the Ivy season with four straight road games beginning next weekend at Yale on Friday and at Brown on Saturday. Tip off for both games is at 7 p.m.