Women's basketball dominant in win over Howard, 65-60
Quakers come back from being down early in first postseason game in almost 10 years
March 21, 2013, 9:06 pm·
Andrew Dierkes | DP
In almost all of Penn’s losses this season, the Quakers have gotten off to a slow start while falling behind early.
But in their first postseason game in nine years, the Red and Blue bucked the trend.
Penn (17-12) overcame a 10-1 deficit in the opening minutes of the contest to pick up the first postseason victory in program history, defeating Howard, 65-60.
The Quakers looked rusty to open the game against the Bison (20-12), as the Red and Blue were playing their first game in nine days.
But coach Mike McLaughlin adjusted on the fly, implementing a 2-3 zone that stifled the Bison’s offense and forced 10 first-half turnovers, which created opportunities in transition.
“When we went zone, I don’t think we’ve played that much zone continuously [this season],” McLaughlin said. “But I thought we matched up pretty well with them in zone.”
On the other end of the court, Penn figured out Howard’s suffocating defense behind a balanced attack, as the Red and Blue responded with a 20-4 run that put the team ahead for good.
But the Bison made the game close at the end, using an 8-0 run in the final three minutes to cut Penn’s lead to just two.
Yet thanks to a late layup from sophomore forward Kara Bonenberger and a strong defensive stand, the Quakers held off the charging Bison.
“To their credit, they really came at us the final four minutes,” senior guard Brianna Bradford said. “But I think finally we started to come to the ball more and be the aggressor.”
Bradford help extend Penn’s run by making five three pointers, finishing with 16 points.
“My teammates were definitely finding me,” Bradford said. “I would call for it and they were looking for me but I also just tried to cut hard and get other people open.”
Throughout the game, Howard dominated from beyond the arc. Senior guard Kara Smith led the way for the Bison, making four threes.
But the Quakers took advantage of their interior size. Junior forward Courtney Wilson came off the bench to put up 11 points while Bonenberger added 10 points of her own.
“I thought Courtney was great,” McLaughlin said. “I thought it was a good game for her because she could pass out of double teams and she could score.”
As the game progressed, the Red and Blue drove to the basket at will. This led to a multitude of attempts from the free-throw line, where the Quakers went 20-for-25.
The success from the charity stripe helped Penn overcome the shortcomings of its two of its best players, as Alyssa Baron and Keiera Ray combined to shoot just 4-for-19 from the field.
With the win, the careers of seniors Katie Davis and Bradford continue for at least a few more days, as the Quakers advance to face Fairfield in the quarterfinals of the WBI this Saturday at the Palestra.
“I think [this game] showed a lot of resilience,” McLaughlin said. “We’re gonna play until someone says we can’t play anymore and that’s the mentality that these girls have.”