With Colorado State down 49-48 and eight seconds remaining, Ellen Nystrom drove for a pull-up jumper over Penn women’s basketball’s Sydney Stipanovich.
The ball hit front iron and landed safely in the hands of sophomore Beth Brzozowski, securing a fourth straight win for the Red and Blue. The Quakers (4-1) came from behind to hand Colorado State (5-1) its first loss of the season as the Rams held a 12-point advantage midway through the third quarter.
The win was the 498th for coach Mike McLaughlin, who narrows in on 500 career wins as a collegiate head coach. McLaughlin is 91-88 with the Quakers, who he has brought from a two-win team in his first season to back-to-back 20-win seasons in the past two years.
The Red and Blue started out the game relatively strong, holding even with Colorado State through the first quarter and coming out of the opening period with a two-point edge, 17-15. The Quakers limited the Rams offense on most plays, but gave up 10 second-chance points in the period as Colorado State collected eight offensive rebounds.
Defensive rebounding was an issue for the Quakers throughout the game, as the Rams recorded 18 offensive rebounds and owned the rebounding margin, 47 to 39. The extra offensive possessions allowed Colorado State to stay in the game despite shooting just 27.1 percent from the field.
While Colorado State only made seven of their 31 shots from beyond the arc, quick spurts of hot shooting helped them nearly separate from the Quakers on a few occasions. The first came midway through the first quarter when three long balls in a two-and-a-half-minute span brought the team out to a 13-10 lead. The second came at the beginning of the second quarter, when a trio of three pointers staked the Rams to a seven-point lead.
Colorado State’s real run came in the third quarter, though, as a 9-2 run out of the gate brought the team to a 12-point lead with just over 16 minutes to play. Penn wasn’t finished, however, as Stipanovich scored the next four points, followed by a Brzozowski three-pointer to bring Penn’s deficit to just five.
In the end, sophomore forward Michelle Nwokedi came through with consistent offense in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of her 25 points to close out the game. Nwokedi scored 10 of the last 12 points for the Quakers as the team locked down defensively to hold Colorado State to just six points in the final period.
Stipanovich finished the game with a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double, along with four blocks to help pace the Quakers. The junior center became the program’s all-time leader in blocks with her second swat of the game, and finished the game with 197 on her career — three more than longtime leader Katarina Poulsen.
For Colorado State, forward Keyora Wharry — the only Rams player to score in double-digits — led the way with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Wharry has been the team’s leading scorer this season with 10.8 points per game.
In the end, it was a gritty, defensively-minded win for the Quakers, who have made that commonplace during the McLaughlin era. Penn didn’t lead for a 25-minute span during the middle of the game, but made the plays they needed to at the end of the game to secure the victory.
After playing five games during the first 11 days of the season, Penn now waits until Dec. 5 to host Navy at the Palestra.
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