Talk about a statement win.
On the heels of their first win over Harvard in 18 tries, the Quakers (12-9, 5-2 Ivy) thoroughly dismantled Dartmouth (6-15, 4-3) on Saturday, 63-40, catapulting themselves into sole possession of second place in the Ivy League.
The win was Penn’s largest ever over the Big Green.
“It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work that these girls have put in for a very long time,” coach Mike McLaughlin said.
Freshman guard Keiera Ray had another strong performance for the Quakers with 19 points against the Big Green. She led all scorers in both games this weekend, including a 31-point night against the Crimson on Friday.
“I just wanted to try and make a difference as much as I could,” Ray said after Penn’s win over Harvard.
“What a weekend, for not only a freshman, but anyone,” McLaughlin said. “She’s not afraid of the moment. She’s determined. She has every characteristic to be a really good player.”
Sophomore forward Kara Bonenberger added 11 points and five rebounds against Dartmouth, while junior guard Alyssa Baron notched 10 points and six assists.
The difference in the game was turnovers. Despite shooting a better percentage from the field than the Quakers, Dartmouth never gave itself a chance and was done in by a litany of poor ballhandling, errant passes and traveling violations.
Penn held a 23-7 turnover advantage over the Big Green and converted those turnovers into 24 points, while Dartmouth had no points off turnovers. That 24-point difference ultimately covered the entire margin of victory.
“We’ve been practicing our defense so hard, we were able to capitalize on their mistakes,” Baron said.
Penn’s win over Dartmouth followed a 77-72 victory over Harvard Friday night.
The Quakers snapped a 17-game losing streak to the Crimson by earning their first win since Feb., 6, 2004.
Midway through the second half, it looked like Penn would cruise to victory after taking a 15-point lead, but a 14-0 Harvard run put the outcome of the game in doubt.
Ray, however, earned several of her career-high 31 points at the charity stripe to close out the win.
“We shoot so many free throws during practice, [and late-game free throws] are just like another free throw in practice. I just have to breathe, take my time and shoot the ball,” she said.
Penn had no trouble putting away Dartmouth after taking a similar double-digit lead in the second half.
“I thought we had a little bit of a killer instinct [against Dartmouth],” McLaughlin said. “The girls were definitely fatigued because they put so much energy into [the Harvard game], but they weren’t going to give up.”
Halfway through conference play, the Red and Blue look up only at first-place Princeton. But the Tigers, undefeated in Ivy play, look nearly impossible to catch — they have yet to lose an Ivy game and topped the Quakers by 30 points in their first meeting.
“We’ve worked so hard this whole season and to come out in second place right now, we’re just looking to keep going forward and maintaining our position in the Ivy League,” Baron said.