PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/21/2013 – The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team won their first postseason basketball game in school history defeating the Bison of Howard University 65 – 60 at the Palestra. It was a significant win in the opening round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational and allows the Penn team to play another game. It was important as to where the game was played, on the Palestra floor. And it added another accomplishment for this team. The Red and Blue got a career-high 16 points from senior guard Brianna Bradford, who also set a career mark with 5 made three-pointers. The senior felt this win had great meaning for the program.
“We’ve come so far and to finally have a postseason win means a lot,” said Bradford. “It’s been a huge team effort in growing as a team these past four years.”
The start of the game was not in favor of the Red and Blue, something they have dealt with all season. Howard got out to a 10 – 1 lead four minutes into the game. Guard Kara Smith scored the first 5 points of the game on her way to a game-high 22 points for the Bison. Penn settled down and began to get back into the game. The Quakers played more aggressive on defense, and the zone bothered Howard. Gradually, the offense began to gather momentum. The Red and Blue went on a 14 – 2 run to take their first lead of the game on a three-pointer by Bradford at 15 – 14 with 10:32 on the clock. Penn stretched the lead to 25 – 20 on inside baskets from Sophomore forwards Kara Bonenberger and Courtney Wilson, and junior guard Alyssa Baron. A basket from beyond the arc at the horn by sophomore guard Kathleen Roche gave Penn a 36 – 28 halftime lead. In the half Penn had a 16 – 3 advantage in points off turnovers forcing 10 Bison miscues.
“It looks like its turning into a habit now,” said Baron about the slow starts for the Quakers. “We start slow, then we bounce back and get a lead and keep it. It got close at the end. We were able to work hard on the defensive end, and let it translate into the offense.”
The second half was more up and down basketball. Howard closed to within a point at 43 – 42 on a three-pointer by guard Adelle Walton at the 15:24 mark. Penn responded by going on a 17 – 7 run to take their largest lead of the game 60 – 49 with 6:42 to play on another three-pointer by Bradford. Wilson keyed the run with 5 consecutive points.
Howard had one more rally in them. An 11 – 2 run got the Bison to within 62 – 60 with 1:20 to play. A basket by Bonenberger at the 42 second mark was the first bucket for Penn in six minutes, but gave the Red and Blue a 64 – 60 lead. In that span Penn missed 7 shots and turned the ball over 3 times. While Howard made a move they were hurt by making 3 of 7 free throws down the stretch. Bradford converted a free throw with 7.1 seconds to play to end the scoring and allowed Penn to celebrate.
Penn had three other players in double-figures. Wilson scored a career-best 11 points. Bonenberger scored 10 along with Baron. Penn finished with a 22 – 12 edge in points off turnovers. The Red and Blue bench outscored the Bison bench 27 – 10. Non-starters Bradford and Wilson accounted for 27 of the 65 points scored by the Quakers.
The Red and Blue (17 – 12) will host Fairfield on Saturday in the second round of the WBI. With this win Penn gets a chance to play another game, grow more, and continue to add to their list of accomplishments. They can continue to build on a significant win.
“To play here and win here, there’s nothing better,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin.
“We want to keep playing until we can’t play anymore. That’s the mentality these girls have. I’m excited we practice tomorrow and take the court on Saturday.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian