It started before the game.
In the traditional shootaround contest, Penn women’s basketball hit three straight halfcourt shots, and it was an omen of things to come.
Led by junior guard Kathleen Roche and her game-high 20 points, the Quakers jumped out to a hot start and never looked back, capping off a perfect weekend by defeating Yale, 62-48, at John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Conn.
“It’s always a battle defensively against Yale,” Roche said. “This program has come so far, and we’ve come to the point that we can win any game and we just wanted it more.”
The win over Yale came a day after taking down Brown on the road. In the contest with the Bears, the Quakers were led by junior forward Kara Bonenberger, who scored a game-high 22 points and combined with freshman center Sydney Stipanovich for 35 points and 21 rebounds.
On top of Bonenberger’s performance, the Red and Blue received solid passing from their senior guards, as captains Meghan McCullough and Alyssa Baron dished out 11 first-half assists, helping Penn take a 70-54 win in Providence.
Thanks to the two wins and some help, Penn (19-6, 9-2 Ivy) finds itself back in a tie for first place after Brown defeated Princeton on Saturday night.
The Red and Blue started Saturday’s game on fire, hitting eight threes in the first period, including four by Roche.
“We moved the ball really well,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “They really took away our post play. We had a tough time getting the ball in, but we got some really good shots.”
Penn also dominated the boards, outrebounding the Elis 44-34 throughout the game. The Quakers were led by Baron who recorded her first double-double of the year with 16 points and 10 boards.
And Baron continued her ascent up the record books. She tied Jewel Clark for second on Penn’s all-time scoring list and now sits 10th all-time in Ivy history with 1,743 points.
However, the focus of the weekend was responding to last weekend’s deflating defeat vs. Dartmouth.
“It feels really good. It was a great turn of events coming off last weekend,” Roche said. “We played with heart and passion.”
While spirits are riding high after the two big road wins, the Quakers also received some bad news while on the road, as junior forward Katy Allen - a large part of Penn’s bench - is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury she suffered in practice on Tuesday.
The injury puts more pressure on Penn’s starting forwards as well as freshman forward Stephanie Cheney, who contributed eight points, five rebounds and three assists in extended minutes on Friday at Brown.
With their last weekend on the road in the books, the Quakers now find themselves back in a position to control their own destiny. With three games left to play - Cornell and Columbia at home before a trip to Princeton that will likely decide the Ivy title - Penn finds itself in uncharted territory. However, the Red and Blue aren’t looking to next weekend just yet.
“Both [Cornell and Columbia] could go either way,” McLaughlin said. “We just play really we’ll right now, we are in the moment and going to enjoy [it] and we’ll get back at this Monday.”
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