After playing a big role in Penn’s victories two weeks ago against Yale and Brown, junior guard Renee Busch will look to have a similar impact when the Quakers take the road in rematches against the Bears and Elis.

Credit: Michele Ozer

Fifteen minutes before practice starts, junior guard Renee Busch goes out to begin take shots.

She begins near the basket, shooting from all around the charge circle before practicing mid-range jumpers while mixing in a few reverse layups. She continues going until her teammates join her on the court and begin stretching.

“I’m at the office at probably 10 after three and the ball starts bouncing,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We were in a meeting and we asked who do you think it is. We all said Renee.

“The kid is a machine. She shot 500 threes the other day ... the kid’s work ethic, her drive is as high as anyone’s could be.”

All in a day’s work as Busch and Penn women’s basketball prepare to take the road to face Brown and Yale in two crucial Ivy matchups.

Last weekend, the Quakers (17-6, 7-2 Ivy) went through an emotional roller coaster, taking down Harvard on the road for the first time in 10 years before falling to a weak Dartmouth squad.

The Red and Blue have had to change things up this week after the Big Green clogged the lanes to shut down Penn’s inside game last weekend.

Trying to adjust their play, the Quakers are looking to improve their spacing as they head to Providence to take on Brown (8-16, 2-8), which may try to replicate Dartmouth’s defensive strategy.

“There’s always the copycat thing,” McLaughlin said. "If things work, someone else is going to try it. But I’d be comfortable if another team did that because I think we missed some shots that are threes are capable of making.”

Penn’s guards will be important in the two games this weekend, as Busch and fellow junior guard Kathleen Roche will be a focus of Brown and Yale’s defenses.

The duo combined to hit eight threes over two games against the Bears and Elis (12-12, 6-4) two weeks ago, playing an essential role in Penn’s victories in both contests.

“Going back to something coach always tells me, the one thing I can do well is space the floor which creates space for people inside,” Busch said.

“Also, just coming off the bench, I just want to bring some energy or keep the energy that the starting five have brought to the game.”

Penn will need energy right at the start of the weekend with Brown’s strong three-point shooting. The Bears are 11th in the NCAA in three-point percentage with senior Lauren Clarke and junior Sophie Bikofsky combining to hit over five triples per game.

After Clarke got off to a hot start in Penn’s first meeting with Brown, the Quakers will pay extra attention to her on Friday.

“She can really play,” McLaughlin said. “She can shoot it. She forces you to play all over the court ... We’ll have to contain her. A lot of their offense runs through Lauren.”

While the Quakers try and stop Clarke, both Brown and Yale will look to contain Penn’s inside game, headlined by junior Kara Bonenberger and freshman Sydney Stipanovich. Each put up a big performance against Yale, and Stipanovich followed hers up with a double-double against Brown.

The games this weekend also have major Ivy implications. Penn needs wins to stay ahead of Harvard for second place in the Ancient Eight while trying to stay within striking distance of Princeton.

And while she won’t need to shoot 500 three-pointers this weekend, Busch is looking to help in any way she can as her team approaches its final games of the season.

“I remember [Kristen Kody], one of our captains said before the games last weekend, ‘Seize the moment. Take every game as it comes and play every game as if it’s you last,’” she said. “I think we’re going to relish these last opportunities. 

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