Courtesy of Penn Athletic Communications
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team put forth a gallant effort on Sunday afternoon at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center, but No. 5 seed Texas simply had too much and ultimately overcame the Quakers to win the NCAA Tournament first-round game, 79-61.
Penn's season ends at 22-7 overall, which ties for the program record for wins in a season. Texas, which improved to 22-11 overall, moves on to second-round game with Maryland on Tuesday night.
For almost a half, things were moving along dreamily for the Penn women, who entered Sunday's game with a program-high 12 seed. Alyssa Baron was scoring every which way. Courtney Wilson was providing an unexpected offensive punch. Defensively, the Quakers were stopping Texas at every turn – the Longhorns went more than nine minutes without a field goal.
When Baron knocked down a free throw with 4:35 left before halftime, the score was 32-17 in Penn's favor. At that point, Baron herself had outscored the team, 18-17.
Texas served notice that things would get more difficult going forward. The Longhorns outscored the Quakers, 14-6, before the break. Only two of the six Penn points came off a field goal.
Penn held the lead into the second half, but you felt momentum shifting. It was still 43-35 when Kara Bonenberger hit a layup with 17:11 to play, but Texas reeled off the next 14 points over a span of 3:36 to gain a 49-43 advantage.
Baron finally stopped the run, but she hardly stopped the bleeding -- Texas scored eight in a row to make the score 57-45 with 10:27 to go. It turned out to be the knockout blow, as Penn never got within single digits after that.
Baron ended the game with 25 points, knocking down four three-pointers, and also had five assists. Playing in her final collegiate game, Wilson scored 10 points, which was a season high and one shy of her career best. Sydney Stipanovich was plagued by foul trouble all game -- she ended up playing just 19 minutes -- finished with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Bonenberger, who also struggled with foul trouble, finished Sunday's contest with seveon points, six rebounds and two steals.
For Texas, the 6-foot-7 center Imani McGee-Stafford finished the night with 20 points and 12 rebounds, going for 15 and 7 in the decisive second half. Empress Davenport had all of her 10 points in the second period, while Nekia Jones bulled her way to 14 points.