Penn women's basketball uses strong second half to get past Yale, 62-50

Sydney Stipanovich broke Penn's program record for blocks in a season with 77 total for the year

· February 14, 2014, 8:44 pm   ·  Updated February 16, 2014, 7:44 pm

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Yale had Penn on the brink.

The Quakers had extended their lead to 14 points early in the second half but it was down to just four points, 47-43, with under eight minutes to play after the Elis went on a 12-2 run.

But two big triples from junior guard Renee Busch took any doubt out of the game, helping Penn women’s basketball to a big win over Yale, 62-50.

"Renee can really shoot the basketball," coach Mike McLaughlin said. "She works really hard. She is out here shooting [in practice] more than anyone I've coached. 

"And tonight, she makes two shots. She earned it."

Freshman center Sydney Stipanovich put in another banner effort, breaking Penn’s program record for blocks in a season thanks to her eight blocks, giving her 77 blocks already on the year. She also added 15 points and nine rebounds to the Red and Blue’s victory.

"It's great but I don't really focus on [the records]," Stipanovich said. "I'm more excited about the win."

The victory was not always certain, especially in the first half as the two squads played almost to a draw.

The Quakers began the game in playing man-to-man defense but quickly switched to a zone, befuddling the Elis in the early going. Penn held Yale to just 36.1 percent shooting from the field in first half.

However, Yale would not be pushed aside. The Bulldogs picked up 11 offensive rebounding in the opening half, helping their all-around performance with 10 different players scoring in the first half alone.

And while some late free throws from senior captain Alyssa Baron and junior forward Kara Bonenberger put Penn ahead, 32-29, a late charging call went against Baron, giving the Red and Blue's star guard her third foul before halftime.

But with the score close, the Quakers did what they do best: tighten up defensively.

"I think every shot they got was highly contested," McLaughlin said. "I thought Sydney in the lane changes a ton of shots obviously and it allows our perimeter to really get out on the ball."

After the Elis scored 21 seconds into the second half, Penn held them without a single point for just under seven minutes, letting the Red and Blue go on a 13-0 run.

That run was engineered by Baron and Bonenberger, who scored all 13 points during the stretch.

Penn's offense in the second half ran through the post with Bonenberger and Stipanovich drawing fouls in the post while the officials called a total of 26 fouls in the half.

"We knew that Yale liked to play really close up on defense, so coach [said to] just take it to them and we did that," Bonenberger said. 

But turnovers and rebounding plagued the Red and Blue. The Quakers turned the ball over 17 times while giving up 25 offensive rebounds to the Bulldogs, letting Yale get back in the game before Busch's three-pointers put the Elis away.

Bonenberger led all scorers with 16 points, going 6-for-9 from the field while notching eight boards and three blocks.

Meanwhile, Baron finished with 13 points, moving her to third all-time in Penn history with 1666 career points. She also added a game-high four assists while dealing with foul trouble throughout the game.

Penn stays in a first-place tie in the Ivy League with Harvard and Princeton after both the Crimson and Tigers took care of opponents on their respective homecourts Friday night.

Now, the Quakers will face Brown on Saturday night at the Palestra, looking to stay at the top of the Ancient Eight race.

But McLaughlin is approaching the Ivy season as one game at a time.

"I keep telling them, 'we'll add them all up at the end,'" he said. "We'll get the scout on Brown at 11 tomorrow by email and it's all Brown for the rest of the day."

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