Quakers face tough slate of road games
Penn looking to continue improved road play
December 9, 2012, 2:59 pm·
As the Penn women’s basketball team heads into this season’s winter break, two issues stand tall above the rest.
The Quakers will hope to improve their winning ways on the road and adjust to life playing back-to-backs over the three-week stretch.
Three of the Red and Blue’s four games over the break will be on the road, including trips to Drexel and the Iowa State Cyclone challenge in Ames, Iowa.
Early in the season, traveling had not been kind to the Quakers, who had a miraculous comeback at St. Francis (NY) on Wednesday and blowout at LIU-Brooklyn.
“We’ve played two road games and have not put together 40 minutes of complete basketball like we have already in our three home games,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “It’s easier at home sometimes to deal with little adversity … on the road you’ve got to be stronger within and I think this team has to understand that in order for us to win on the road.”
The Quakers showed signs that they got that message on Sunday.
Junior guard Alyssa Baron’s 17-point performance led teh Quakers to a blowout 54-40 victory.
Penn’s biggest road trip — and test — will come on its trip to Ames.
“It gives us three to four days together as a group,” said McLaughlin. “That’s always a good thing. [It] gives us those back-to-back games which will prepare us for Ivy play.”
The Red and Blue will play Alabama State in their opening matchup, before continuing on to face either Air Force or the 22nd ranked hosts.
“It’s going to be good competition,” Baron said. “Going on a trip, taking a plane somewhere is always fun, if not for the basketball, just for the team bonding.”
This tournament will mark the first slate of back-to-back games of the season for the Quakers, an Ivy League hallmark.
Penn has had some difficulty playing a full 40 minutes, an issue compounded by the daunting upcoming slate.
In their first loss against Norfolk State, the Quakers only scored six points in the final six minutes of the game. Against Army, the Quakers allowed an 8-0 run in the middle of the second half that lasted over four minutes.
“I think that’s the growth that players naturally hopefully get,” McLaughlin said. “I think that’s happening and I do think we have a great desire to win.”
“We’ve been working on those end of the game situations where … we need to be able to get that last stop or step up and score the ball,” Baron added. “Also, the bench players being able to step up gives some of the starters some more rest so I think that definitely helps the whole 40 minutes.”
And the Quakers’ bench has indeed performed well of late.
Against St. Francis, sophomore Kathleen Roche, who averaged 3.6 points per contest coming into the game, scored a career-high 20 points, taking the pressure off some of the team’s usual leading scorers.
The Quakers will likely need their bench at their best when they face their rivals up 33rd Street.
The Quakers were able to take down a hungry Drexel squad in overtime last year after dropping their four previous contests.
Now everyone knows that the Dragons will be out for revenge.
“Drexel will definitely be a big challenge,” Baron said. “That was definitely one of our biggest wins and I know they’re having a good year this year.”
Looming over all of the winter break matchups is the Ivy League opener against three-time defending champion Princeton.
“We’re going to have to be almost perfect if we’re going to be able to beat them,” Baron said.
With a strong performance over break, the Quakers will be that much closer to said perfection.