PHILADELPHIA, PA 3/23/2013 – In postseason basketball the idea is to survive and move on. And that is precisely what the University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team did winning 49 – 48 over the Fairfield Stags at the Palestra in a second round WBI classic on a game-winning three-pointer by junior guard Alyssa Baron with point 8 seconds on the clock.
‘I thought we played well, and if we fell at the end it would just be the way basketball goes,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin.
Fairfield took the lead at 48 – 46 with 7.9 seconds on the clock when forward Brittany MacFarlane made a three-pointer from the deep right corner. The basket erased a Penn lead of three-points over the last 3:50 of the game. Penn called timeout after the MacFarlane basket. McLaughlin set up a play that worked for Penn, just not how he designed it.
“In the timeout leading up to the play Coach said this better be going to the basket,” Baron said. “Do not settle for the outside shot, you better attack the basket. I was planning on attacking the basket, but they picked me up. I sagged off. It’s a shot I’ve taken hundreds of times in practice and most every day. I pulled up for the shot and luckily it went in.”
A shot that Baron visualized every day as a basketball player.
“All the time, even in the shoot-around before the game,” Baron said. “I will take crazy shots and count down 3-2-1 and put it up. Those are shots you dream of as kid. Even today, I was dreaming about it.”
The Red and Blue had been experiencing slow starts this season. This game did not fit that mold as Penn got off to an 8 – 0 lead as Fairfield missed their first 10 shots of the game. The Penn lead held until the 14:53 mark of the second half when Stags guard Alexys Vazquez drained a three-pointer. The Quakers fought back to regain the lead on a three-ball by sophomore guard Kathleen Roche at the 6:31 mark. The lead went back and forth until senior guard Brianna Bradford converted a three to put Penn back in front 44 – 43 with 4:16 to play. Two free throws by sophomore forward Kara Bonenberger gave Penn a 46 – 43 lead that Fairfield overcame until the end. Those slow starts earlier forced the Red and Blue to be a resilient team. That resiliency was needed in this game
“We threw the first punch,” Baron said. “It helped in the long run. I don’t know if we would have been able to battle back from another deficit. We could have, but it would have been tough against a Fairfield team. Coming back from another deficit would have been tough. Taking an early lead in a back and forth game definitely helped us.”
With 17 points and 11 redounds Baron recorded her fifth double-double of the her career. Bradford tallied 9 points and sophomore forward Katie Allen grabbed 8 rebounds. MacFarlane led Fairfield with 16 points and 8 rebounds, and forward Katie Cizynski added 9 points.
The Red and Blue move on. The Quakers will face the winner of the Detroit – College of Charleston winner at a site to be determined. If the College of Charleston wins, the game will be at the Palestra on March 27 or 28. Whatever happens, Penn has bought another game.
“Just to buy another game whether it is here or not doesn’t matter,” McLaughlin said. “It’s awesome for them, and they deserve it.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian