Courtesy of Penn Athletic Communications
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Ivy League champions.
All it took was a total team effort on the road against the four-time defending champions and the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team raised the Ivy trophy at Jadwin Gym on Tuesday night. The Quakers led wire-to-wire and defeated Princeton, 80-64, to earn the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2003-04.
This is Penn's third Ivy League title, and its first since 2003-04. The Quakers (22-6, 12-2 Ivy) tied a school record for wins in a season and their 12 league wins are second-most in program history. Princeton, which lost at home to an Ivy opponent for just the second time in the last five seasons, fell to 20-8 overall and finished second in the Ancient Eight standings at 11-3.
Penn jumped out to an early lead and led by 12 at the half. The Quakers were up by as many as 17 early in the second half and never allowed the Tigers closer than nine the rest of the way.
Senior captain and the program's second all-time leading scorer, Alyssa Baron, started the scoring at the 19:12 mark and Penn never trailed. With a 6-5 lead, the Quakers held Princeton scoreless for seven minutes -- forcing seven turnovers in that span.
In the meantime, the Quakers poured in 10 points behind four buckets from four different players and led 16-5 at the 9:45 mark after back-to-back threes from junior Kathleen Roche and senior captain Meghan McCullough.
Princeton closed to within 20-13 with 6:29 left in the opening half, but Penn scored eight of the next 10. On back-to-back possessions, Baron converted a three-point play and then sank a three to give Penn a 28-15 advantage with 4:12 until the break.
The Quakers held that 13-point edge until intermission and led, 32-19. It was the lowest-scoring first half of the season for the Tigers.
In the second half, Princeton's Ivy League leading offense came alive. But each time the Quakers had an answer. Penn's 48 points were the most in a half under head coach Mike McLaughlin.
After the Tigers had the first four points to get within nine, Penn went on a 10-2 run. When McCullough found junior Kara Bonenberger, who finished one rebound shy of a double-double, for a fastbreak layup, the Quakers had their largest lead, 42-25 with 16:50 to play.
Princeton countered with seven straight over the next three minutes. But once again, the Quakers responded. Senior captain Courtney Wilson had back-to-back buckets.
Penn would capitalize at the foul line to stave off the Princeton comeback, the Quakers shooting 19-for-26 from the stripe in the second half. Baron (7-for-7) and Stipanovich (7-for-8) were practically perfect for the Quakers at the line in the game.
Inside the Numbers
Baron led four Penn players in double figures with 23 points, and she also added seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Both Sydney Stipanovich (19 points, 9 rebounds) and Kara Bonenberger (11 points, 9 rebounds) nearly had double-doubles, while Kathleen Roche knocked down three three-pointers en route to 17 points.
The wire-to-wire win gives Penn 22 victories for 2013-14 and ties the program record set during the 2000-01 campaign. It also snaps an 11-game losing streak to the Tigers who had won every meeting sicne the Quakers had notched an 85-78 win exactly six years ago to the day.
Outside the Box Score - This marked Princeton's second home Ivy loss in the last 38 games dating back to the 2008-09 season.
Penn heads to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003-04. The NCAA selection show is Monday night and will be televised on ESPN.