Penn women's basketball win nets best start since 1982
Quakers improve record to 3-1 with victory over Niagara on Sunday in N.Y.
November 27, 2011, 10:42 pm · Updated November 27, 2011, 10:42 pm·
Jing Ran | DP
Strong defense and a bounce-back performance from sophomore guard Alyssa Baron pushed Penn to its best start in 29 years.
Baron led all scorers with 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting to power the Quakers to a 55-41 win over Niagara and a 3-1 record on the young season.
Niagara’s 41 points were the lowest Penn has allowed since beating Columbia 60-40 on Feb. 12. The Quakers held the Purple Eagles (1-5) to 31 percent from the field and forced 20 turnovers.
“We played really well for 40 minutes,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We defended as well as we have.”
McLaughlin said the Quakers had a lot of success using the full-court press against Niagara, running it more than in any other game this season.
“We disrupted them,” McLaughlin said. “They were getting the ball over half court with 18, 19 seconds on the shot clock.”
“The defense helped transition to the offense,” Baron explained. “They struggled getting into their plays and sets.”
The Quakers took control of the game early in the first half, leading 19-9 after a 12-0 run put them ahead for good. Freshman forward Kara Bonenberger keyed the run with five of her career-high 11 points to go with eight rebounds.
Including Bonenberger, four freshmen and Baron saw the most time on the floor for Penn.
“A lot of the young freshmen played a lot of minutes, and a lot of important minutes,” McLaughlin said. “And I think that was a step in the right direction for this program.”
“They’re progressing the way I hoped they would,” he added. “They’re not intimidated.”
Though Penn controlled play for most of the game — the Quakers also outscored Niagara, 26-12, in the paint — McLaughlin still saw areas for improvement.
“I think we left a lot of points out there,” McLaughlin said.
“We played well enough [defensively] to have a bigger separation,” he said about his team, which shot 41.7 percent on the day. “We just missed some really close ones around the basket.”
Penn was coming off its first loss of the season Tuesday night at La Salle, 58-47. Baron, Penn’s leading scorer, had only six points on 2-of-15 shooting.
“She bounced back the way you would hope, and the way I would expect,” McLaughlin said. “I was really proud of her.”
Just as Baron rebounded, the women’s program has undergone a huge turnaround from two years ago, when the team finished with a 2-26 record.
“It’s definitely a good start for the program. It’s exciting for everyone,” Baron said.