Alyssa Baron carries load in women's basketball's overtime win
Sophomore guard scores 27 on 24 shots to down pesky Saint Francis in opener
November 14, 2011, 12:34 am·
Jing Ran | DP
Penn women’s basketball was prepared for a battle in its opener against St. Francis. But the Quakers weren’t exactly expecting an overtime nail-biter against a team that’s never beaten them.
That’s what they got, however, as the tough-minded Terriers pushed the Red and Blue all day before Penn finally rallied to win in overtime, 70-61.
Penn held a slim lead throughout the beginning of the first half, thanks to senior captain Jess Knapp, who opened the game 3-for-4 from the field. However, the Quakers couldn’t gain any separation from St. Francis and its tough zone defense.
“Our offense is really built around a lot of movement, we’re more suited to handle man-to-man,” Knapp said. “Credit to them — they defended us well.”
The Quakers’ offense was so out of sync that they were held at 17 points for almost four minutes — most of their possessions ending in missed threes. For the entire game, Penn attempted an abnormally high 21 treys and only made three of them.
“It was really a result of nerves,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “I wanted to get more of the girls in there early to give them a good feel, but I think that had the opposite effect.”
Late in the second half, St. Francis went on a run, knocking down several trifectas to take a 27-20 lead heading into the locker room.
Penn endured a couple more bad breaks before the half, as first Knapp picked up her third foul.
“That just always happens with me,” Knapp said. “Thankfully, we have so many girls who can come in and do the job just as well.”
Minutes later, sophomore Alyssa Baron, last season’s Rookie of the Year and Ivy League scoring leader, went down with a neck injury.
Baron was able to tough it out, returning for the start of the second half.
Not only did Baron play in the second half, she caught fire. After starting 1-for-7 from the field, she went 7-of-8 from the floor, including two threes. Her play sparked the Quakers’ offense and brought Penn back to take a 42-41 lead with a little over 11 minutes remaining.
But St. Francis stiffened up and Penn fell in love with the three-ball again. As a result, the game went back and forth down the stretch — despite the fact that the Quakers turned the Terriers over 21 times in the game and took 13 more shots.
“I thought we forced up too many early shots,” McLaughlin said.
When the Penn offense needed to be at its best, it was. Trailing, 54-51, with three minutes remaining, the Quakers dialed up a couple rub plays to Baron resulting in easy scores. Knapp hit a free throw with a minute left to tie the game and the defense held beautifully on St. Francis’ final possession to force OT.“We were working on that same one-minute situation the other day, and it showed,” McLaughlin said.
In the extra period, the Red and Blue were able to get to the line and convert. That, plus several impressive blocks from Knapp, sealed the victory.