Penn women's basketball's playoff hopes in limbo after weekend split
Quakers can't complete comeback against Yale
March 11, 2013, 2:06 am·
Joshua Ng | DP
Penn women’s basketball’s postseason hopes took a significant hit this past weekend.
The Quakers (16-11, 9-4 Ivy) split their home weekend slate, topping Brown, 60-48, on Friday before falling to Yale, 70-65, on Saturday night.
Because Harvard and Princeton both swept their pair of games this weekend, Penn is guaranteed to finish in third place in the Ivy League. The top two teams in the Ivies receive automatic bids to the NCAA tournament and the Women’s NIT, respectively. The Quakers haven’t seen postseason play since they won the Ancient Eight crown in the 2003-2004 season.
The Quakers rode a very strong defensive performance to cruise past Brown (9-19, 3-11). Penn held the Bears to under 30 percent shooting from the field.
Freshman Keiera Ray led the Quakers with 16 points, and junior Courtney Wilson recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Against the Bulldogs (13-15, 8-6), Penn trailed by 19 points with 12:08 remaining before launching a furious comeback to pull within two with 35 seconds left in the contest.
“I liked our poise and our composure,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We just came up a little short.”
Junior Alyssa Baron led the Quakers with 22 points, while sophomore Kara Bonenberger added 20 points and 12 boards.
McLaughlin said the game was one of Bonenberger’s best this season.
“[Bonenberger] went after every ball that was in the air,” he said. “She gave us that opportunity to get it down to a possession or two at the end.”
Ultimately, McLaughlin thought the Quakers’ ineffective defensive rebounding, particularly in the first half, was their undoing.
Yale finished with 17 offensive rebounds — four more than the Quakers had on the night — though Penn finished with a six-point advantage in second-chance points.
The Bulldogs also shot extremely well from long range, finishing 12-for-22 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Penn only hit six of its 24 three-point attempts.
The Quakers’ loss to Yale was their first Ivy home loss of the season, as they were 5-0 at the Palestra heading into the matchup.
“That has been one of the big positives as we come out of the season,” McLaughlin said. “To be successful you have to be very good on your home court, and I think we were this year.”
Though Penn cannot receive an automatic postseason bid anymore, there is still a possibility that it receives an at-large bid from the Women’s NIT or the Women’s Basketball Invitational. Any such bid would be more probable if the Quakers manage to upset first-place Princeton at the Palestra on Tuesday.
McLaughlin called postseason speculation “premature” before the outcome of the Princeton game, but he acknowledged that the team did discuss the possibility of playing past Tuesday.
He also said the coaches would set smaller goals before the game against a Tigers squad that beat Penn by 30 earlier in the year.
“If we reach these small goals we can get closer with them, and you always have an opportunity to win,” McLaughlin said.