PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/12/2012 – It has long been a tradition at the University of Pennsylvania to play the best on-conference teams they can schedule. In addition to the Big Five games and the Battle of 33rd Street with Drexel, Penn opened their home season against the University of Virginia Cavaliers of the ACC. Virginia is ranked just outside of the top 25. The Red and Blue showed they can play with the power conference teams, but the next step is what the Red and Blue wants to take. Virginia took a one point lead with 1:25 to play and held off two Penn game-tying attempts to escape with a 68 – 65 win at the Palestra.
“We hope that is the next logical step,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “We like to bring the best teams in here. This is a tough one for us, it would have been a marquee win for us, but we’ll have another day.”
The Quakers got off to a hot shooting start in the game leading 35 – 23 at halftime. The Red and Blue shot 53.6% in the half compared to 32.3% for Virginia. Penn got inside points from Kara Bonenberger and outside points and drives from Alyssa Baron. The inside-outside combination and ball movement helped the offense to flow.
“We wanted to play inside-out,” said Bonenberger. “The last game did not go as well, so we wanted to try harder to get the ball inside. We did a lot better to just get it in, get the double team, and get it back out for tons of threes. It was really helpful.”
Those shots did not fall as often in the second half as Penn made 10 of 31 shots. Yet the Quakers doggedly held the lead. Kelsey Wolfe put Virginia in front 57 – 56 at th 4:20 mark. Sophomore forward Katy Allen answered for Penn to get the lead back. Wolfe 9 of her game-high 22 down the stretch to give the Cavaliers up 64 – 63 at the 1:59 mark. The Quaker refused to quit. Baron got the lead back for Penn, but Virginia buckets by Ataira Franklin, a preseason All-ACC guard, and a layup by Telia McCall, whose basket that followed a Penn turnover, provided the final margin of victory. The Red and Blue had two three-point shots at the end by Sophomore guard Kathleen Roche were off the mark, and the buzzer sounded ending the game.
“They made their run when we went up,” said Baron. “The lead kept dropping, 12, 10, but we kept trying to fight back. Their defensive intensity picked up. We weren’t as efficient on the defensive end. That’s what killed us in the end.”
Wolfe also contributed 9 rebounds and 6 assists for Virginia. Mc Call scored 14 points and took down 8 rebounds. Franklin had 13 points and 7 rebounds. As a team Virginia shot 53.6% (15-28) in the second half, 25 of 59 (42.4%) for the game.
Baron led Penn with 21 points and also pulled down 9 rebounds while dishing out 5 assists. had 14 points, and Roche scored 10. The contribution of Roche in future games will be needed for Penn.
“We need to have a third and fourth scorer.” McLaughlin said. “We need to find out who that will be. Kathleen (Roche) can knock down the three and that will spread the floor for us. Keiera Ray is fearless. She got to the rim for us.”
The Red and Blue still seek their first victory of the season. The Quakers travel to Army on Saturday for their next game. Penn has fallen short, but the team still believes better days lie ahead.
“We compete against ACC schools, Big Five teams, Princeton, Harvard, we will be ready for anyone.” said Baron.
Written By: Glenn Papazian