Penn women's basketball gets big road victory at La Salle, 64-54
Quakers pick up first win at La Salle in 40 years after Alyssa Baron puts up 23-point, seven-rebound effort
December 3, 2013, 12:59 am·
Andrew Dierkes | DP
La Salle has never been a kind host to Penn women’s basketball.
This year, the Quakers didn’t care.
Facing a potential 0-3 start, Penn women’s basketball turned in one of its best Big 5 performances in recent memory with a 64-54 win over the Explorers, its first road victory over La Salle in 40 years and the first win for the Red and Blue at Tom Gola Arena.
“I thought we approached [the game] the right way, and that helped us to get out to a solid start,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “But we played 40 minutes … we went after the ball, we won a lot of 50-50 balls, played hard and we deserved to win this.”
The Quakers (1-2, 1-0 Big 5) got off to a strong start and were aggressive from the opening tip. Senior guard Meghan McCullough buried two three-pointers early on to give Penn a lead over the Explorers (2-4, 0-1) that the Quakers would never relinquish.
“I really think we came out aggressive and ready to play, we ran the floor hard and got stops on defense,” said junior forward Katy Allen, who grabbed eight rebounds and pocketed three steals.
After a four-minute drought, a Kara Bonenberger layup helped spark a quick 7-0 run that put the Quakers up 24-13 midway through the first half.
In the second stanza, Penn continued to pressure hard, as freshman center Sydney Stipanovich recorded two of her four blocks, which the Quakers converted into fast-break layups by Allen and senior captain Alyssa Baron.
“We made some critical shots at the right time, transitioned the ball much better than we did the first cou- ple of games, and I think 60 [points] is the … number for us to get to a win,” McLaughlin said.
The Red and Blue built their lead to 14 points in the second half after Baron and Bonenberger combined on three straight baskets for a six- point run.
Baron finished the contest with a game-high 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting, while adding seven rebounds and five assists — her best offensive output on the young season.
But Penn’s defense effort was just as impressive. The Quakers forced 16 turnovers from the Explorers while limiting La Salle to just 30.7 percent shooting from the field.
And on top of that, the Red and Blue held their Big 5 rivals to a paltry 12.5 percent from beyond the arc as La Salle went 3-for-24 from three-point range.
“Big 5 games are as important as Ivy League games,” Allen said. “We feel like we come in as an underdog team, and we know we’re good enough to play with anyone.”
The win marked Penn’s first back-to-back seasons with a Big 5 win since 2003-04 and 2004-05. It was also a good start to a busy week. The Quakers will take on LIU Brooklyn at the Palestra on Thursday before traveling to Lewisburg, Pa. to play Bucknell on Saturday.
“This game really starts us off on a good stretch and gives [us] confidence for our next game,” Allen said. “Hopefully we can get a win at home, but we knew this was a big one, and we knew we were right there and ready for a win. So I think we proved to ourselves we could do it and it felt pretty good.”