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February Total: 8
Season Total: 44
PHILADELPHIA - Temperatures reached record highs in Philadelphia on Friday and inside The Palestra, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team reached one of their own. Penn broke open a tie game with a 17-3 run early in the second half to pull away for a 55-43 win over Brown. With eight more wins than last season, the Quakers set the school record with the largest one-year turnaround in program history.
With its third straight victory, Penn improved to 10-12 on the year and marked its first 10-win season since 2006-07. The Quakers also moved to 4-4 in league play to slide into fourth-place in the Ivy standings. Brown fell to 7-16 overall and 3-6 against the Ivy League.
Both offenses got off to a quick start. Penn scored on its first three possessions to jump out to a 6-2 lead. The Quakers made seven of their first 10 shots, but Brown kept up, hitting at a 67-percent clip from the field in the first seven minutes.
Penn, which opened 3-0 at home against the Ivy League for the first time since 2003-04, maintained a small lead throughout the early going. It was extended to 21-13 with a 7-2 spurt that was capped by an inside spin and lay-up from senior Jerin Smith with 11 minutes left in the half.
That was the last basket for the Quakers for the next eight minutes. Brown scored the next 11 points and led 24-21 with 3:56 remaining until intermission.
Freshman Alyssa Baron, who finished with a game-high 24 points, broke Penn's dry spell with a game-tying three at the 3:26 mark and later hit a free throw to send the Quakers into the locker room with the halftime lead, 25-24.
Senior Caroline Nicholson, who poured in a career-high 12 points, had the first basket of the second half, but Brown tied the game on its next possession, 27-27, at the 17:22 mark.
The Red and Blue used the next three and a half minutes to build a 36-27 advantage. Baron finished off the 9-0 run with a step-back three followed by a fastbreak jumper.
The Bears momentarily broke up Penn's push with a three, but freshman Meghan McCullough and Baron both sunk threes to give the Quakers a 42-30 edge with 12:08 to play.
The Bears, who were swept by Penn for the second time in three years, were never within single digits again. The teams shared baskets the rest of the way. Penn never led by more than 15, but Brown was never closer than the final margin of 12.
For the seventh time this season, the Quakers' No. 14-nationally ranked defense, held their opponent to 45 or fewer points. Brown shot at a 44-percent clip in trailing by just one at the half, but Penn held the Bears to 7-for-31 (22.6%) shooting in the second frame. The visitors were also held to 2-of-17 (11.8%) shooting from three-point range for the game. Penn was 22-for-53 (41.5%) from the field in the game and outrebounded the Bears by one, 37-36. The Quakers nearly doubled up Brown in the paint, 30-16, and forced 16 Bears turnovers.
In addition to the second-highest scoring output of her collegiate career, Baron added six rebounds and five assists in 36 minutes. Nicholson was 6-for-8 from the floor, grabbed six rebounds and matched career-highs with two assists and two steals in 27 minutes of action. Senior Erin Power led the team with seven rebounds and tied season highs with a game-high six assists and four steals. Smith, who had Penn's only four points off the bench, also grabbed three rebounds and had an assist and block.
Penn, riding its first three-game winning streak since 2008-09, is back in action Saturday night. The Quakers look to avenge a nine-point loss to Yale earlier this season when they tip off with the Bulldogs at 7 p.m.