PHILADELPHIA – A dominant first half propelled the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s basketball team past New Hampshire, 74-39, in The Palestra on Tuesday night, sending the Quakers into the holiday break with plenty to be thankful for.
The 35-point margin of victory is the second-highest under Mike McLaughlin, bested by only a 36-point win over NJIT on Jan. 25, 2014. At one point, the Quakers were ahead of the Wildcats by 39 points, 74-35, tying the largest lead by the Red and Blue under McLaughlin.
The win is the first by 30+ points for the Quakers since an 85-51 win over Morgan State on Jan. 8, 2013.
The Quakers had three players in double figures, led by Michelle Nwokedi’s 17 – more than she had scored in her first three collegiate games combined. Fellow freshman Beth Brzozowski was second on the team with 14 points – equaling her total for her first three games. Combined, the pair was 7-for-10 from three-point range. Keiera Ray completed the trio of Quakers in double figures, scoring 11 points.
All three players in double figures came off the bench for the Red and Blue, part of a dominating effort from the bench. The Quakers outscored the Wildcats in bench points, 58-15.
Penn needed a few minutes to find its footing in the game, opening the contest with misses on its first four shot attempts before Anna Ross connected on a three-pointer to cut an early UNH lead to 4-3. After a layup from Kaylee Kilpatrick, the Quakers would tie the game on a Michelle Nwokedi three with 14:56 left in the first half.
The Quakers would never trail the rest of the way.
A layup from Bonenberger with 14:27 left in the opening half gave the Red and Blue its first lead of the game, and the offense would efficiently add to that lead the remainder of the opening period.
After starting the game 1-for-9 shooting, the Quakers would hit 15 of their next 26 shots, including a 7-for-13 clip from three-point range. The Wildcats were unable to stay within range, finishing the first half 6-for-25 shooting.
The depth of the Quakers was on display in the dominant first half, with all five players who came off the bench scoring at least three points in the first twenty minutes of play. Nwokedi led the bench players with 11 points in the first half, pacing Penn to a 31-3 edge in bench scoring in the first period.
The win in The Palestra completes two superb performances in the “Cathedral of Basketball” in the last week. Six days ago, the Quakers knocked off La Salle, 57-29, on the strength of 13 points allowed in the first half. This night, it was 14 points allowed in the opening period which sent the Quakers on their way to victory.
12 different players scored for the Quakers and 13 had at least one rebound.
The Quakers are off until December 2 when they head to Easton, Pa. for a 7 p.m. tip with Lafayette.