PHILADELPHIA - Four players scored in double figures, freshman Michelle Nwokedi recorded another double-double and the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team outpaced Harvard, 71-61, at The Palestra on Friday night.
Penn's fourth straight victory over the Crimson marked the 68th career win for the Penn seniors, who became the winningest class in school history. It also clinched the program's third-straight winning season and kept the Quakers (15-7, 6-2 Ivy) in sole possession of second place in the Ivy League.
How it Happened
It was a back-and-forth affair throughout the first half. Freshman Michelle Nwokedi scored the game's first four points before Harvard answered with nine in a row. The Quakers responded with the next eight which included threes from senior captains Katy Allen and Kathleen Roche for a 12-9 lead at the 12:11 mark.
Harvard's defense had the Quakers flustered for much of the half and the Crimson retook the lead. The visitor's led by as many as six, 22-16, with 5:41 left in the half, and were up 26-23 with just over two minutes before the break.
Roche then hit another deep three -- one which moved her into sixth-place on Penn's all-time career list -- to tie the game, and Nwokedi ended the half as she started it -- with four straight points. That gave the Quakers a 30-26 lead at intermission.
On its first possession of the second half, Harvard (10-13, 3-6 Ivy) closed to within two. From there, the Quakers dominated.
Head Coach Mike McLaughlin and his staff implemented a few halftime adjustments, and the Quakers were operating with confidence and complete control on the offensive end. The Quakers quickly went on a 10-2 run in the next three minutes and led 40-30.
A short while later, a 9-2 run had Penn up 51-36. Harvard hit a three to close within 51-39 at the 12:21 mark, but the Red and Blue's vaunted defense did not allow a single point over the next seven minutes.
Meanwhile, Penn, which had 30 points at the half, put up 28 in the first 10 minutes of the second half. The lead was 58-39 after Nwokedi converted a three-point play with 9:47 to go.
Penn, which has won seven of its last eight games, led by as many as 25 after four straight points from Allen increased the advantage to 64-39 with 5:25 to go.
Harvard eventually ended its scoring drought -- which was nearly 10 minutes without a field goal -- and halted Penn's 13-0 run. The Crimson hit a barrage of three's and closed to within 70-59 at the 1:01 mark, but never truly threatend the outcome.
Inside the Numbers
Nwokedi earned her second straight double-double with 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. It was also the two-time reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week's fourth double-double in the last five games and her sixth straight game as a double-digit scorer.
Roche finshed with 14 points and passed Mandy West (1999-00) on Penn's all-time career made threes list with 142 for her career. She entered the game ranked 13th in the nation in three-point percentage (.443) and finished 4-for-9 (.444) from that distance.
Sophomore Sydney Stipanovich scored 12 of her team-high 17 points in the second half and added seven rebounds and a game-high three blocks. Freshman Anna Ross scored in double figures for the second time in her career -- the other was also against Harvard this season -- and finished with 14 points and four assists (she has three or more assists in 14 of the last 15 games).
Allen played 31 key minutes off the bench and filled the box score with seven points, five rebounds and a career-high six assists.
As a team, Penn was 20-of-57 (35.1%) from the field and 8-of-25 (32.0%) from three. The Quakers held Harvard to 18-of-70 (25.7%) shooting and 8-of-25 (32.0%) from beyond the arc. Penn, which entered the game last in the Ivies in free throw percentage, was 23-of-28 (82.1%) from the line, including 16-of-17 (94.1%) in the second half.
Penn's seniors surpassed the Class of 2003 which won 67 games ... This is the first four-game winning streak over Harvard since a five-game stretch from 1999-01 ... The last time Penn posted back-to-back-to-back winning seasons was 2002-05 ... This is the winningest three-year stretch in school history (55 wins) ... In building the program, Coach McLaughlin's record reached .500 in Ivy play for the first time after a 1-15 and 12-31 start ... The Quakers have won 30 straight regular season games when scoring more than 60 points.
Its Penn's annual Play 4Kay game which will be shown nationally on ESPN3.com. The Quakers tip off against Dartmouth at 7 p.m.All fans are encouraged to wear pink to show their support in the fight against breast cancer. There will be free giveaways courtesy of theMid-Atlantic Dairy Association and all ticket proceeds from the game will go to the Play 4Kay foundation. You can donate to Play 4Kayhere.