Penn women's basketball faces one more test before break
Against Drexel, the Quakers will look to continue their solid defensive play
December 21, 2011, 3:01 pm · Updated December 23, 2011, 2:24 am·
Ranked third in the nation, Notre Dame women’s basketball has averaged over 80 points per game this season.
When the Fighting Irish took on Penn last month, they put 69 points on the board. Only Duke and Purdue, ranked No. 9 and No. 20 respectively, have held the Irish to fewer points in a game this year.
Such a defensive effort encapsulates the Red and Blue’s season thus far. Even on nights when their offense has failed to emerge, the Quakers have been able to lean on their physical defense to keep games close.
The Quakers (5-2) have averaged 4.4 blocks and 8.1 steals per game through their first seven contests.
The defense has been anchored by senior captain Jess Knapp and sophomore Alyssa Baron, who lead the team with ten blocks each and stand first and second in steals. Knapp has 12 swipes thus far, while Baron has 14.
And while Baron’s offensive numbers have been similar to those she put up last season during her Ivy League Rookie of the Year campaign, her improvement on the defensive end is palpable.
Last season, Baron finished with 35 steals in 28 contests, or 1.25 steals per game. Thus far this year, she’s averaged 2.0 steals a game, and her 10 blocks are already more than the six she had all last season.
The Quakers lost a defensive leader with Erin Power’s departure after graduating last spring — Power led the team in rebounds and steals and ranked second in blocks a year ago.
So going into the season, the Red and Blue knew they would need someone to step up and fill that void. It seems as though Penn found its answer in Baron, also its leading scorer on the offensive end.
When the Quakers take on Drexel (5-3) at noon on Thursday at the Palestra, the Red and Blue’s defense will be the key to the game. Though the Dragons are ranked 22nd in three-point percentage, Penn has allowed the second fewest three-point field goals in the NCAA.
Drexel is coming off a 72-59 win on Monday over La Salle. In November, the Quakers fell, 58-47, to the Explorers — the only team other than Notre Dame to beat them so far this year.