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Women's Basketball WNIT first round vs. Hofstra Credit: Ilana Wurman , Ilana Wurman, Ilana Wurman

When it comes down to postseason basketball, no lead is ever safe enough.

Ahead by as many as 13 within the final four minutes, Penn women’s basketball fended off a late run from Hofstra to hold on to its first-ever WNIT victory, 65-58. The Red and Blue (21-8) will host Temple on Sunday at the Palestra in the second round.

The Quakers led 58-45 with 3:26 to play when Hofstra (20-13) started a 10-0 run that brought them within three. However from there, it was all Red and Blue. Sophomore center Sydney Stipanovich knocked down a baseline jumper to put Penn up 5 and the Quakers closed out the game at the free throw line.

“We were fatigued, they were fatigued late in the year. We found a way,” coach Mike McLuahglin said. “It’s a special postseason win.”

While Penn got the win, it wasn’t all positives for the Quakers. Senior forward Kara Bonenberger — who came into the game nursing a knee injury suffered against Princeton — came up limping five minutes into the game and did not return.

Bonenberger’s injury opened up the floor for fellow senior captain Katy Allen. Allen scored eight points and corralled six rebounds in her 30 minutes of play.

“[Kara’s injury] hurt us with depth. We got a little fatigued late,” McLaughlin said of the impact of the injury. “We need to find a way as we move forward to play with one less post [player].”

Penn’s offensive performance was buoyed by excellent three-point shooting as the team struggled inside in the early going. The Quakers shot 9-for-14 from deep on the game, led by senior Kathleen Roche’s 4-for-6 shooting night.

The Quakers managed just eight points in the paint over the course of the game, a surprisingly low number from a typically dominant interior team. However, Penn maintained its composure inside on the defensive end, as Stipanovich blocked an Ivy postseason record eight shots.

“I think we really stressed the defensive end. They have post inside and great shooters outside,” Stipanovich said. “I think our defense is what won us the game today.”

Ivy League Rookie of the Year Michelle Nwokedi finished with team-highs in points and rebounds with 16 and eight respectively.

For Hofstra, sophomore guard Kelly Loftus notched a team-high 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting while playing 39 minutes. Penn struggled to contain Loftus’s outside shooting during the Pride’s late run as the sophomore scored eight points.

The Quakers will host a familiar foe on Sunday at the Palestra. Penn defeated Temple 52-50 in early January on a late three pointer by senior captain Renee Busch.

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