It was supposed to be the easy part of the weekend.
Coming off a huge win against fellow-Ivy title contender Harvard, Penn women’s basketball was supposed to roll over Dartmouth - a team winless in the Ivies entering the game - and maintain its position tied for first place in the Ivies.
But that didn’t happen.
In a major upset, one that ended in heartbreaking fashion, the Quakers fell to the Big Green, 53-50.
The Red and Blue (17-6, 7-2 Ivy) got off to an inauspicious start, and the squad could not get anything going on offense from the opening tip.
In fact, Penn was unable to score its first field goal - a three from senior guard Meghan McCullough - within the game’s first seven minutes.
Meanwhile, Dartmouth (4-20, 1-9), a team clearly outmatched in terms of personnel, played
confident basketball from the start.
The Big Green were certainly not shooting lights out, but they were able to put enough points on the board to build a 12-3 cushion before Penn’s first bucket.
By denying Penn’s normally dominant inside tandem of freshman center Syndey Stipanovich and junior forward Kara Bonenberger the ball, Dartmouth was able to force Penn to settle for outside shots.
And Penn’s guards simply could not buy an outside basket in the first half. The Quakers finished the first half shooting a measly 21 percent.
Dartmouth continued to frustrate Penn’s offense for the rest of the first half, taking a commanding 26-17 lead into the locker room.
The trend continued into the second half, as the Quakers trailed by double-digits with under ten
But the Quakers refused to give up.
Sophomore guard Keiera Ray stepped onto the floor for the first time in game since January 17 in hopes of sparking a run, and it worked.
With eight minutes left, Penn made baskets on consecutive possessions for the first time all game. Led by senior guard Alyssa Baron, the Quakers battled back to within one in just a few minutes.
From there it was a tight-fisted affair, one that remained close for the rest of the game.
With 27 seconds left, junior forward Katy Allen scored on a put-back to give the Red and Blue their first and only lead of the night.
However, Dartmouth scored on the very next possession, taking the lead back. An uncharacteristic travel in crunch time by Baron followed by a Dartmouth bucket sealed Penn’s fate.
The loss snaps a nine game winning streak for the Quakers. At 50 points on just 34 percent shooting, it also marks their lowest offensive output of the season.
Penn will look to rebound next Friday on the road against Brown. The Quakers now sit in second place in the Ancient Eight behind Princeton.