With ESPN’s College GameDay bus parked outside the Palestra, the Penn men’s basketball team gained much of the weekend’s attention among Penn sports fans.
However, amidst all the commotion, the women’s basketball team also had a game just miles away, and the squad came very close to stealing the show.
Penn lost to a tough St. Joseph’s team on the road, losing for the third straight game. The Quakers lost by eight, 60-52, but the final score doesn’t even begin to tell the story.
Penn (8-5) entered the game having beaten St. Joe’s (13-4) only once in program history, but it came out swinging from the get -go.
“I thought we came out really strong. We took it right at them,” junior forward Katy Allen said. “We knew they were a good team, and we just wanted to bring everything we had.”
Penn’s defense was stifling throughout the first half, led by freshman center Sydney Stipanovich who blocked three shots in the opening half. The Quakers went on a small offensive run toward the end of the half, and went to the locker room leading, 31-23.
St. Joe’s took control of the game’s momentum immediately in the second half, closing the deficit to within one possession within the first few minutes of the half.
“In the second half, some of our shots didn’t fall, and they made some good plays,” Allen said.
The game remained close throughout most of the second half, but the Quakers received a major blow with only six minutes remaining. It tied up when they lost junior forward Kara Bonenberger, who led the team with 17 points, after a controversial personal foul call followed by a technical foul.
“It was a simple play. Kara kept her arm-bars up – which is legal – and the kid took a flop,” coach McLaughlin said. “It turned into her fourth and fifth foul, and the momentum changed.”
Only two minutes later, Penn’s leading rebounder Sydney Stipanovich fouled out, leaving the Quakers without their dominant frontcourt for the game’s final four minutes.
“We just had to keep going,” Allen said. “You can’t control that stuff.”
Penn kept the scored tied with two minutes remaining, but St. Joe’s was ultimately able to pull away from the depleted Penn lineup in the game’s final two minutes.
“Not having the right personnel out there … we struggled to score for a little bit,” McLaughlin said.
The officials certainly did not do the Quakers any favors, but the team remained positive following the tough loss.
“I thought we played well,” McLaughlin said. “Foul trouble was the difference in the game.
“The officiating was very inconsistent, which really dictated a lot.”
“I’m proud of our team for never giving up, even when things weren’t going our way,” Allen added.
Though Penn lost in the final minutes for the second time in three days, the squad will have a chance to redeem itself and pick up its second Big 5 win of the season against Temple on Wednesday.
Ultimately, the Quakers failed to catch the right breaks on Friday night, but they made their mark on a crazy weekend of Big 5 basketball.
“The crowd was great,” McLaughlin said. “It was a great college atmosphere.
“In this Big 5 stretch, we’re seeing some really talented players that we can match up with … It shows that we can do that against anyone.”