Women's Basketball Survives Lafayette, 49-39

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Box Score

PHILADELPHIA - On a night when the defenses dominated, freshman Renee Busch hit five threes to propel the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team to the best five-game start in program history. The Quakers held off Lafayette Wednesday night at The Palestra, 49-39.

Penn is off to its best start in program history at 4-1. The Quakers have relied on a strong defense and were at their best against the Leopards. Lafayette (2-5) shot just 15-of-51 from the floor and was 0-for-7 from three-point range. It marked the sixth time the Quakers have held an opponent to 40 or fewer points in the Coach McLaughlin era.

Lafayette led 4-2 in the first two minutes, but a full-court press flustered the Leopards into several turnovers and the Quakers scored six quick points to take an 8-4 lead.

Busch then hit her first two threes - the second of which gave the Red and Blue a 15-9 edge at the 13:23 mark of the opening half.

Penn's lead grew to as many as seven, 21-14, when freshman Jackie Kates assisted freshman Kara Bonenberger's mid-range jumper with 6:45 left in the half.

But that marked the final points of the half for the hosts. It was Penn's stifling defense that kept the Quakers in the lead. The Leopards managed just two points in that time and Penn held a 21-16 advantage at the half.

Busch and senior Jourdan Banks had quick buckets to start the second half and Penn was up 26-21 with 18:02 to go. But the defenses quickly took over again.

Both teams managed fewer than 10 points over the next 10 minutes until the Leopards scored five straight to close to within 33-32 with 7:44 left in the contest.

Penn inched the lead to 39-35 with five minutes remaining. Sophomore Alyssa Baron then drained a three which was quickly followed by another three from Busch and the Quakers had their largest lead to that point, 45-35, with 3:04 to play.

The Quakers led by as many as 12 to put the game away in the closing minutes.

Busch's five threes were the most for any Penn player since Sarah Bucar hit the same number against Columbia on March 8, 2008. Baron finished with 14 poitns and tied a career high with six assists. Bonenberger had a career-best 10 rebounds to go along with eight points and twoo assists in 27 minutes off the bench. Senior Jess Knapp had six rebounds, six points, four assists and two steals.

Penn never trailed after sophomore Meghan McCullough's lay-up with 17:22 remaining. Lafayette also had an impressive game on defense. Penn shot just 20-of-64 (31.3%) from the field. But the Quakers had 15 assists and just 11 turnovers and held a 15-3 edge in points off turnovers. Lafayette held the slight rebounding edge at 42-41.

This was the beginning of a wild few days for the Quakers. The team has less than 12 hours before it leaves for South Bend, Ind. The Red and Blue take on No. 3 Notre Dame - the national runner-up last season - at the Joyce Center Friday night. Tip off against the Big East preseason favorites is at 7 p.m.

Download: 5-Lafayette.pdf