Women's basketball cruises over weekend, stay in Ivy title chase

Victories over Big Red and Lions extend Penn win streak to five games

· February 23, 2013, 9:30 pm

Elizabeth Schwartz | DP

Sophomore guard Kathleen Roche hit game-changing shots in both of Penn’s weekend victories over Cornell and Columbia to keep her team in the Ivy title hunt.


And so the streak continues for the women’s basketball team.

The Quakers extended their Ivy win streak to five games, crushing Cornell and Columbia, 67-40 and 66-48, respectively.

With the two wins this weekend, it is the first time in program history that Penn (14-9, 7-2 Ivy) has improved its win total in three straight seasons.

The hallmark of the Quakers’ play during the two matchups was the depth of their bench.

In both games this weekend, 12 of the 13 active players on Penn’s roster saw time on the court.

“Our guard play this weekend was really good,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “[Freshman guard] Keiera [Ray] again was very good.”

Against Cornell, Ray posted nine points and three assists, while junior guard Alyssa Baron notched 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes of play.

Against both the Big Red (11-12, 3-6) and the Lions (3-20, 1-8), sophomore forward Kathleen Roche came up with the shot that solidified the Quakers’ lead.

As Cornell pulled within single digits at the beginning of the second half, Roche’s two jumpers gave Penn breathing room. The Red and Blue then took complete control in the second half.

With just under four minutes left in regulation, the Quakers led by 29 points, before ultimately securing a 27-point victory, Penn’s largest margin of victory of the season.

After falling one point behind against Columbia early in the first half, Roche’s second three-pointer of the night gave the Quakers a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

“I really think I’ve just been getting open shots,” Roche said. “Obviously everyone’s going to be scouting Keiera after the weekend she had, so I’ve just been able to get open.”

Against Columbia, Roche, Baron, Ray and sophomore forward Kara Bonenberger all scored in double digits.

“We have two people at each position who can really step up and I think that’s what sets us apart from other teams,” Roche said.

Penn has now recorded its most wins in a season since the 2004-05 campaign.

The Quakers will embark on their final road trip of the season to Dartmouth and Harvard this coming weekend. Though the Penn defeated both teams at home earlier this season, the road could potentially be a different story.

Penn has yet to lose an Ivy game at the Palestra, but it is also only 3-2 on the road. To add to the pressure, Harvard sits just one game behind the Quakers for possession of second place in the conference.

McLaughlin’s emphasis all season has been on consistency, and he isn’t changing anything going into the final stretch.

“We know what’s at stake,” McLaughlin said. “We’re not going to change what we’re doing. I’ve said all along with them we’re just going to keep playing. Whatever we’re doing, we’re going to continue to do and try to get better every day.”

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