Penn women close out Bucknell in OT
Quakers made up for offensive struggles by forcing 21 turnovers
December 4, 2012, 1:36 am·
Jing Ran | DP
After competing in tight games all season, the Penn women’s basketball squad seems to have it figured out.
The Quakers eked out a 58-53 overtime win over Bucknell on Monday night at the Palestra. The Red and Blue’s second straight victory was again decided by single-digits — just as every game they have played this year has been.
“That’s why we practice long hours,” junior guard Alyssa Baron said. “We’re conditioned well enough so that we can fight through in the end, and the last two [games] we were able to pull out the ‘W.’”
On a night when the Quakers (2-3) shot just 28.8 percent from the field, they topped a Bison team riding a five-game winning streak thanks to an outstanding defensive effort, particularly in the first half.
Penn forced 21 turnovers, notched eight blocks and held the Bison (5-3) to just 35.7 percent shooting.
“I think defense kept us in the game,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “Defensively, we hung in there until we were able to make some shots.”
“We definitely played great help defense tonight, and I think that was key,” Baron added.
Junior forward Courtney Wilson provided a huge spark for the Red and Blue off the bench. She filled the stat sheet with eight points, six boards, four blocks and four steals.
“I think Courtney has really solidified the middle for us defensively,” McLaughlin said. “Courtney’s been really, really good, and I’m glad to see she’s being rewarded.”
She also hit a couple of huge shots down the stretch, including a dagger three that put the Quakers up, 56-52, with only 45 seconds left.
“All of us practice every day to step up. Last game Renee [Busch] hit four threes, and today was just my turn to make it,” Wilson said.
Penn had a chance to put the game away in regulation after a Wilson jumper. But with 46 seconds left on the clock, Baron turned the ball over on the inbound, and Bucknell junior Shelby Romine tied the game on the Bison’s ensuing possession.
Freshman guard Keiera Ray led all scorers with 13 points, while Baron added 12, though the two combined to shoot just 7-of-34 from the field.
What she lacked on offense, though, Baron more than made up for defensively. She disrupted passing lanes all night and finished with three steals along with many more tipped passes that didn’t show up in the box score.
Neither team had a first half to remember offensively. The opening frame featured a three-and-a-half minute stretch during which both teams went scoreless, but the defensive-minded Quakers took a 20-17 lead into halftime. The Red and Blue forced 12 first-half turnovers to go with five blocks.
Baron said Penn’s full-court press in the first half slowed down the Bison offense and stopped them from getting into a rhythm.
Penn takes on St. Francis (NY) on Wednesday night. The Quakers have never lost to the Terriers in four meetings, so they may have the perfect opportunity to reach .500 and extend their winning streak to three games.
“We’re not trying to rattle teams off,” McLaughlin said. “We’re trying to win one game and get on to the next one. And if they add up at the end of the day and they come into a streak, we’ll be happy to take that.”