Penn women's basketball drops fourth straight
Despite a superb defensive effort, Penn can’t overcome scoring drought
January 16, 2012, 11:59 pm · Updated January 17, 2012, 1:14 am·
Kai Tang | DP
Penn has cooled off following the best start in program history, and it won’t be easy to turn things around before conference play resumes.
Despite the Quakers’ best defensive effort this year, they dropped their fourth straight game at Big 5 rival St. Joseph’s, 42-34.
The Red and Blue (7-6, 0-1 Ivy), who struggled from the field, have yet to top 30 percent shooting during this recent slide. On a night when the defense held their composure, the Quakers’ offense went begging as they shot only 26 percent on 13-for-50 shooting against the Hawks (11-5).
“Obviously we need to score the ball a bit better,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “[The offense] has been better in terms of execution. We just need to finish around the rim.”
Penn led, 30-23, with 11:44 to go before St. Joseph’s went on an 11-0 run. The Quakers trailed by just two points with two minutes to play, but they could not manage to sink enough late buckets to pull out what would have been the program’s second win against the Hawks.
Despite stalwart senior Jess Knapp still being sidelined by injury, the Red and Blue put together a strong defensive effort that kept them alive, despite not scoring for large swaths of the game.
“Since we lost Jess, that was the best team defensive effort we’ve had,” McLaughlin said.
St. Joe’s shot just 17-for-58 from the field, and its output was the lowest of a Penn opponent since Knapp went down.
Freshman forward Kara Bonenberger had a double-double with 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting and 10 boards. She led all scorers with the Hawks’ Samira van Grinsven and Katie Kuester.
McLaughlin was pleased with Bonenberger’s performance against what he called a “very good, big, athletic front line.”
Bonenberger came off the bench for the Quakers, but played more minutes — 34 — than all but one Penn player. McLaughlin said he has been starting senior Jourdan Banks to provide more “maturity” on the court to start the game.
St. Joe’s defense held star sophomore guard Alyssa Baron to seven points on 13.3 percent shooting, though she added eight boards and three assists.
Freshman guard Katy Allen had a career-high nine points and six rebounds — a good sign as the team approaches Ivy play.
The Quakers face an even stiffer test Tuesday night as they look to end their skid at Villanova, a team that is also struggling as of late.
The Wildcats are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, including a 23-point loss to No. 3 Connecticut. They are, however, undefeated in Big 5 play heading into their final nonconference game.
“We played fearless [against St. Joe’s],” McLaughlin said, adding that he hopes to see similar play against the Wildcats.
Penn will need to steal a game against either Villanova tonight or Big 5 opponent Temple on Saturday if they want to avoid carrying a six-game losing streak into the resumption of Ivy League play.
“We’ve got a huge task ahead of us, that’s no question,” McLaughlin said.