Penn’s 67-66 win over the host Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday was the Quakers’ first victory against an Atlantic Coast Conference school — after 13 losses — and no one was happier than hometown hero Alyssa Baron.
A graduate of Miami’s Gulliver Prep, Baron scored 14 points and was on the court when teammate Katy Allen hit the game-winning shot, a layup with 5.6 seconds left.
The Canes (8-5) still had a chance to win, but Caprice Dennis missed a three-pointer from the left wing to give Penn (6-2) its sixth consecutive win.
“It’s a great accomplishment — a huge win for our program,” said Baron, who said she had more than 100 family and friends at the game.
Baron, a 5-10 senior guard, said she was offered a scholarship out of high school by FIU but not Miami. She might have been receptive to Miami but was looking to go away for college anyway. Things have worked out exceptionally well for Baron, who is set to graduate from an Ivy League school this spring with a degree in communications. She also wants to play pro ball overseas.
Her college career has been stellar. In 2011, she became the first freshman to lead the Ivy League in scoring (16.6). She also took the scoring title as a sophomore (16.9). Last season, she averaged 14.1 points and did not win the title but had a career-high 119 assists, nearly double her previous best.
Baron is averaging 14.9 points this season and showed what she can do against the Canes, drilling 4 of 6 three-pointers.
Penn led by as many as 16 points in the first half, but the Canes mounted an impressive comeback and took a 66-62 lead on a Dennis jumper with 1:34 left. But the Canes, playing man-to-man defense, gave up a three-pointer to Meghan McCullough with 1:21 left to cut their lead to one.
For the game, Penn made 48 percent of its threes (11 of 23), and Miami hit just 17 percent (3 of 18).
After McCullough’s shot, Miami freshman guard Adrienne Motley missed a jumper. On a team lacking in perimeter scoring, Motley continued her recent hot streak. She had a career-high 18 points in her previous game, against New Mexico, and added 17 against Penn.
Miami struggled at the foul line, making just 9 of 18.
“We were not ready,” said UM coach Katie Meier, whose team opens ACC play Saturday at Wake Forest. “We had some players who started the game without a real Miami passion. I saw it early and took them out.
“The team that wanted it more and played their guts out was Penn.”