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December Total: 6
Season Total: 19
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Sophomore Alyssa Baron posted her first career double-double as the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team held off UNC-Greensboro, 47-36, Thursday afternoon from Viejas Arena. It was Penn's first game in San Diego State's Surf 'N Slam Classic.
With the win, the Quakers advanced to the 2011 Surf 'N Slam championship game on Friday. Penn will take on the host Aztecs for the tournament title at 2 p.m. (PST).
The Quakers, who are in the midst of their first three-game winning streak of the season, are off to the best nine-game start in program history at 7-2. UNC-Greensboro, who lost to San Diego State on Wednesday, 57-29, fell to 2-10 this season.
Penn led wire-to-wire and by as many as 23 in the second half. But the Spartans made it interesting down the stretch.
Baron finished with a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. She and senior Jess Knapp started the scoring with back-to-back buckets. Both teams struggled at the start offensively and the Quakers maintained that edge through the first 12 minutes of play.
The Spartans pulled within 15-12 at the 7:38 mark of the opening half. But they would not score again for the rest of the half. Four different Quakers combined for the final seven points and Penn led at the break, 22-12.
It marked the fewest points Penn has allowed in a half under head coach Mike McLaughlin. The Red and Blue held UNC-Greensboro to 6-of-29 (20.7%) shooting before intermission.
The Quakers, who played on the West Coast for the first time since 2005-06 and won in the Pacific time zone for the first time since 1997 against San Diego, came out sharp in the last half.
The Quakers scored on their first four possessions. Baron had a layup, Knapp hit a three and a lay up, and sophomore Meghan McCullough drained a corner three. That gave Penn a 32-14 lead.
Moments later, McCullough converted a fast break lay up and then assisted freshman Renee Busch's third three of the game. That capped a 22-2 Penn run and gave the Quakers their largest lead, 37-14 with 16:10 to play.
But it wasn't over. The Spartans rallied. Over the next 10 minutes, the Southern Conference foe outscored Penn, 19-4. And a few minutes later, it was a seven-point game with 4:38 left.
But once again, the youthful Quakers, who have won two overtime games already this season, remained poised in the final minutes.
Freshman Katy Allen helped Penn immediately push the lead back to double digits. She knocked down a three - the only bench points of the night for the Red and Blue - for a 44-34 edge with 4:20 to play.
On the next offensive possession, Baron converted a three-point play to stretch the advantage back to 13. It never lowered more than the 11-point final score.
In addition to her first career double-digit day on the boards, Baron added a game-high five assists. Knapp finished with a near double-double with nine points and eight rebounds. Busch finished with nine points on 3-of-3 shooting (all beyond the arc). McCullough had eight points, three assists and two steals.
Penn has won seven of nine games for the first time since 2004-05 and are now two non-conference wins away from matching the single-season program record of nine.
This is the second time this season the Quakers have held an opponent under 40 points and the sixth time under Coach McLaughlin. Its the fewest allowed since a 51-33 win over Cornell on Feb. 11, 2011.
Penn, which won its fourth straight against a So-Con opponent, held the Spartans to 31.5-percent shooting (17-of-54), including 1-of-7 (14.3%) from three and forced 17 turnovers. The Quakers were 18-of-45 (40.0%) from the field and 6-of-19 (31.6%) from beyond the arc. UNCG won the rebounding battle, 35-32.
The 2011 Surf 'N Slam championship game will tip off from Viejas Arena at 2 p.m. (PST). The Quakers are 5-0 in day games this season.
Have you been following the Quakers on Twitter @pennwomensbball? If not, here are two of the exclusive interviews/updates you missed: