Coming in as the Ivy League’s only remaining undefeated team, Penn certainly looked the part on Friday night, as the Quakers led for all but two minutes of the game in their 64-54 victory over Columbia. The star of the night was certainly Princess Aghayere, but several other players also stepped up with solid outings. Check out the stars of the game and other takeaways below.
Stars of the game:
Princess Aghayere: When you’re the backup for two of the best players in the Ivy League (Sydney Stipanovich and Michelle Nwokedi), it can be easy to go a little unnoticed. This was definitely not the case tonight as sophomore forward Princess Aghayere came off the bench to lead the Quakers with 21 points and 6 rebounds. Aghayere’s 11-point effort in the third quarter was especially impressive, but she was incredibly efficient the entire game, missing only two of her 11 shots.
Ashley Russell: Seeing increased playing time in the wake of Lauren Whitlatch’s recent injury, sophomore guard Ashley Russell made the most of her opportunities tonight. The Massachusetts native came off the bench to score 7 points in a career-high 28 minutes and led Penn with an eye-opening plus/minus of plus 31.
Michelle Nwokedi: Michelle Nwokedi did not take over the game tonight like she has in the past, but she did more than enough to help the Quakers leave Manhattan with a win. The junior forward stuffed the stat sheet for 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks. She also certainly took some of the defense’s attention away from Aghayere, who was able to capitalize in her career-best performance.
Penn was pretty dominant throughout, but Columbia just had no answer for the Quakers in the second quarter. The Red and Blue won the quarter 21-8 to put them up by 18 points at halftime, a lead that would not be seriously threatened for the remainder of the game.
The Lions simply could not stop the Quakers in the paint. As a team, Penn out-rebounded the Lions 39-28 and scored 38 points in the paint, while Columbia managed just 26. The Red and Blue also finished with nine blocks to the Lions’ zero. Columbia junior forward Camille Zimmerman did her best with 28 points and seven rebounds, but Penn’s front court proved to be just way too much.
It was a bit of an off night for reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Sydney Stipanovich, but her teammates more than picked up the slack. The senior center finished with only six points, but she was still able to impact the game in other ways, racking up seven rebounds and four blocks. The fact that the Quakers were still able to run away with the game is good news though, as Stipanovich will inevitably have some rough scoring nights every now and then.
Interesting Stat of the Game
11 - The Quakers’ victory tonight marked the 11th straight time Penn has played Columbia and come away with a win. The streak dates all the way back to 2011 and the Red and Blue will enter their February 25th matchup with Columbia as heavy favorites, so expect this streak to be safe heading into 2018 as well.
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