After a tough loss, all you can do is get back on your horse. Or Heelys. Or whatever the Quakers are using these days for their latest transportation shenanigans.
Penn women’s basketball will play host to Cornell and Columbia this weekend at the Palestra, looking to get back in rhythm after suffering its first Ivy League loss against Yale last week.
The Red and Blue (15-7, 8-1 Ivy) are still alone atop the Ivy League standings despite losing their shot at perfection, and are a lock to make the Ivy League Tournament in which they will have home-court advantage no matter their seed.
However, there are multiple reasons the Quakers will be determined to maintain their one-game lead over Princeton and 1.5 game lead over Harvard. For one, the top seed would avoid both those teams in the first round of the tournament. And while it no longer carries an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, a regular season title is nothing to scoff at.
Cornell (14-9, 5-5) and Columbia (13-10, 3-7) have no shot at that regular season title, and will be playing their absolute hardest just to get into the tournament as the fourth and final seed. The Red and Blue won’t be taking these games lightly, especially after a loss and another scare against two underdog foes last week.
“Cornell is experienced, they always have five kids on the court that can make plays. They’re very disciplined, very organized, and they’re very senior-laden so they’re composed,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. “They’re just very efficient in what they do. They’re a team where if you break containment or assignment, they’re going to make you pay for it. So we gotta be sharp with our scouting, we gotta be sharp with our personnel, we need to be locked in, and not have a possession off against them, because they’ll make you pay.”
Cornell has managed to beat the Quakers each of the past two seasons, and almost took the first matchup this season in a 61-55 Penn win. They appear to be a bigger threat than the Lions, but the Red and Blue aren’t overlooking their Manhattan foes either.
“Columbia has a really good post game,” junior guard Anna Ross said. “I think [the key is] our defense staying aggressive, and if they’re scoring, not letting that get us down, staying sound for 40 minutes.”
Penn beat the Lions 64-54 in the first matchup, and no Ivy team has a post game good enough to challenge Penn’s star duo of Sydney Stipanovich and Michelle Nwokedi when those two are on top of their game. Stipanovich has been dealing with a nagging injury and wasn’t at her best in the loss to Yale, but if you don’t think every Quaker will bring their A-game this weekend, you don’t know this team.
“We have a lot of extra motivation from that [loss to Yale]... it just didn’t go our way at all,” Ross said. “We still have a chip [on our shoulder]. The Yale game was heartbreaking, we didn’t want to lose a game. Going undefeated halfway through Ivies was a great accomplishment, so it sucks to let one slip by us.”
The Red and Blue want to win, and they want to do it emphatically.
“These games are big, because we didn’t beat them by a lot [last time]. We didn’t play great against Columbia, we only won by 10. And Cornell was with us the whole game,” Ross said.
“We’re a good team that can beat Ivies by 15-plus, you know. I think that’s the goal this weekend.”
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