PHILADELPHIA - On the first day of 2014, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team won its first-ever game over an ACC opponent. That set the tone for one of the best years in program history. In a New Years Eve matinee at The Palestra on Wednesday, the Quakers capped 2014 with yet another victory, 85-20, over King's College.
From the first day to the last, Penn had much to celebrate in 2014. The Quakers won at the buzzer at Miami (Fla.) on New Years Day. Two months later, the Red and Blue clinched the program's third Ivy League title and NCAA Tournament berth. This season, Penn is off to a 2-0 start in Big 5 play for just the second time in school history. With the win on Wednesday, the Quakers finished 13-2 at The Palestra during the 2014 calendar year. It also improved Penn to 6-4 on the season.
How it Happened
For the second straight game, senior captain Renee Busch hit a three to start the game. Fellow senior captain Kathleen Roche took over from there. She had 10 points in the first 6:30, including a pair of threes, to propel Penn to an early 17-4 lead.
King's, a Division III school from Wilkes-Barre, went scoreless over the last 6:34 of the first half, and the Quakers built a 44-8 lead at the break. Sophomore Jackie Falconer added a nice drive and layup, while freshman Lauren Whitlatch scored her second bucket of the season during the closing minutes of the half.
The Lady Monarchs' scoreless streak continued for the first eight minutes of the second half. Freshman Michelle Nwokedihad three blocks and six points in that stretch to give the Quakers a 63-8 lead. Sophomore Sade Gibbons and junior Brooklyn Juday each scored over the next several minutes to give Penn a 70-9 lead with 8:14 to play. The Quakers held their biggest lead, 84-16, after a pair of free throws from freshman Beth Brzozowski with 2:35 remaining.
Inside the Numbers
Every Penn player recorded a rebound as the Quakers dominated the boards, 55-23. Thirteen different Quakers reached the scoring column for the Red and Blue, including Roche, Nwokedi and Stipanovich, who all finished with a game-high 10 points. Stipanovich added a game-high 10 rebounds to become just the 10th player in school history to record 14 career double-doubles.
Freshman Anna Ross led the Quakers with five assists and added four points and four rebounds. Nwokedi finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and a game-high four blocks. Brzozowski was just shy of double-digits with nine points and contributed three assists and three rebounds.
Falconer finished with a career-high seven points and five rebounds. Juday added a career-best four points and five rebounds in addition to three assists and a game-high four steals. Gibbons also reached a career high with seven points and added three blocks.
Penn was 33-of-69 (47.8%) from the floor, including 6-of-16 (37.5%) from three-point range. The Quakers held King's to 8-of-50 (16.0%) shooting and 2-of-19 (10.5%) from beyond the arc. Penn forced 20 turnovers and had just 11 miscues. The Quakers also added 24 assists.
Possibly the biggest Big 5 matchup in school history. The Quakers have a chance to clinch a share of the program’s first-ever Big title when they open 2015 with a home game against Temple. Tip off from The Palestra is set for 7 p.m. on Monday.
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