The women’s hoops team finally played a full 40 minutes of basketball.
In a season that has been plagued with last minute losses and lackluster play following halftime, Penn (9-8, 2-1 Ivy) finally proved that it has left the non-conference mistakes behind as the Quakers begin the Ivy season.
The Red and Blue faced Columbia (2-15, 0-4 Ivy) and Cornell (10-8, 2-2 Ivy) in their first Ivy road trip of the season, beating their opponents by scores of 52-40 and 65-56, respectively.
Both outings were highlighted by strong second half play.
Against the Lions, the Quakers went into the half trailing by four points after shooting 6-for-26. But in the second frame, Penn showed its tough defense, holding Columbia to two baskets and nine points for the final 20 minutes of the game, while racking up 25 points. The Quakers recorded 11 turnovers in this span.
“We came out in the second half, and we were more aggressive on the defensive end,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “The thing that I was really happy with was we rebounded the ball and we got to the foul line which we are trying to improve on, and I think that really helped us.”
The Red and Blue came into the second half with a newfound energy. Sophomore forward Kara Bonenberger and freshman guard Keiera Ray combined to score 30 points in the second half to give the Quakers the sweep for the weekend.
“We scored right at the end of the [first] half on a play by [freshman] Rayne Connell which was a real momentum builder for us,” McLaughlin said. “Kara was able to score down low which really opened up the perimeter for Keiera and Kathleen Roche.”
Though this was Ray’s first Ivy road trip, she was a huge contributor.
“She did shoot the ball at a high percentage, and she got to the basket,” McLaughlin said. “She was aggressive on the offensive end but I thought defensively is particularly where I saw the most progress. She was able to play 33 really hard minutes against a very hard player for Cornell … I thought that was Keiera’s overall — on the offensive and defensive end — probably her best game of the year.”
The Quakers also showed that they did not need to rely heavily on junior Alyssa Baron to win. Against Cornell, Baron only scored three points the entire game, making room for Bonenberger and Ray to pick up the offensive slack.
“Hopefully we’re at a point where, we need Alyssa’s support obviously, but hopefully we’re getting a little bit further along. We have other players that can score the ball too,” McLaughlin said. “She did enough outside of actually scoring to maker her team effective … one of the goals for her in the Ivy League is try to get 8 to 10 rebounds a game.”
In the game against Cornell, Baron recorded 10 rebounds and five assists. She currently sits in second place in the Ivy League in assists.
This marks the first time Penn has beaten both Columbia and Cornell on the road since 2005.
The Quakers will finish their stretch of away games at Yale and Brown next weekend.