PHILADELPHIA, Pa. 2/24/12 – The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team played one of its best team games of the season as they easily defeat the Big Green of Dartmouth 63 – 49 at the Palestra. Eight Penn players scored in the contest, and eight players had assists. As a team Penn registered 20 assists on their 25 field goals, Sophomore guard Alyssa Baron led the way for Penn with 20 points. Senior forward Jess Knapp had a double-double with 11 points and 1o rebounds.
“I thought it was,” said Coach Mike McLaughlin about this being the best team game to this point for Penn. “We made the extra pass whenever we needed to. The extra pass got us open shots. The percentage we shot was a lot better because we got quality shots.”
The Red and Blue made 25 of 60 field goal attempts (41.7%), and connected on 7 of 13 (53.8%) from beyond the arc.
The game was back and forth early in the first half. There were 5 lead changes on 5 possessions early in the half. Dartmouth guard Faziah Steen scored with 6:12 to play in the first half cutting the Penn lead to 24 – 20 with 6:12 remaining. That would be the last point scored by Dartmouth in the half as Penn took a 31 – 20 lead into the locker room. The scoreless streak would continue for another 2:54 as Penn put together a string of 15 points to lead 39 – 22 with 17:06 to play. Later Penn would increase their lead to 25 points at 54 – 29 with 11:06 to play.
“The time they didn’t score took a lot of pressure off our offense,” said Knapp about the importance of holding Dartmouth without a point for 9:06 in the game. “It allowed us to get in a groove naturally instead of forcing it. Defensively, when we play well it takes a lot off our shoulders.”
On defense Penn held Dartmouth to 15 – 57 shooting (26.3%) which was the lowest shooting percentage for an opponent against the Quakers this season. The Red and Blue blocked 7 shots. Freshman forward Kara Bonenberger had 6 blocks, a career-high and one short of the school record.
“Defensively we were solid,” said McLaughlin. “We made some shots, they missed some shots. We didn’t miss many assignments, and that was huge for us.”
Dartmouth guard Milicia Toskovic had a team-high 17 points for the Big Green. Forward Sasha Dosenko scored 11 and center Tia Dawson contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Penn improves to 11 – 13 for the season. The Quakers are 4 – 6 in the Ivy League, and have won 3 of their last for games. Penn readies for their final home game of the season as Harvard visits on Saturday. It was the first back to back win for Penn since December, and their first in conference this season. It is especially meaningful for a team that is growing, and learning how to win.
“This is humongous,” said Knapp. “Tomorrow is our last game in the Palestra. We can build a platform for the younger girls. They can send us off, and we can send them off on a note that’s winning high note and give them motivation to come back even stronger.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian
SENIOR DAY – SATURDAY FEBRUARY 25, 2012 – IS COMING FOR JESS KNAPP AND JOURDAN BANKS
When Penn meets Harvard, it will be Senior Day. The day is very special and emotional for players and coaches. Knapp and forward Jourdan Banks play their final collegiate game in the Palestra. That day will finally arrive for Knapp. She is excited to experience it. Whatever it may be for the Carlstadt, NJ native.
“The set up is a nice ceremony,” Knapp said. “It gets your emotions going, gets you crying, then tip-off. I’ve watched it for three years now. It’s been emotional for me, that’s a given. You put everything you have into this program for four years. Your heart, your sweat, your soul, everything, for how many hours a day. For it all come down and try to recognize everything in one night, it’s hard to grasp. It’s such a huge part of your life that’s come to an end rapidly. Especially in the Ivy League playing weekends, before you know it the season is over. Now, we’re normal students. It will be emotional, and I hope I can hold myself together.”
The night for Jess Knapp will not be an end. It will be a beginning. Hopefully, she can channel the emotion into a positive Palestra ending. She has played the last part of the season with two torn ligaments in her left knee. Knapp has been an inspiration to her teammates. It would be deserving that her last home game be one of her most memorable.
Written By: Glenn Papazian