In the first ever Ivy League Tournament game, Penn women's basketball came out on top, taking down Brown 71-60 to advance to the final. The game was very back and forth, with both teams going on extended runs to take leads. Despite leading through much of the first half, Penn saw their lead shrink down to 33-32 at the break due to a barrage of threes from Brown. The Bears came roaring out of the gates to take the lead, but Penn responded with a 14-0 run to take the lead for good.
Here are the three stars of the game, as well as some lessons learned from the victory.
Stars of the game
Michelle Nwokedi — Nwokedi proved yet again why she was so deserving of the Ivy Player of the Year. The junior forward absolutely dominated on both sides of the ball, leading the Quakers in both points (25) and blocks (7). She also grabbed 10 rebounds to record her seventh straight double-double. If that isn't enough to show you just how good she is, then this should: Nwokedi has a plus/minus of 22, which was eight points higher than the next best Quaker and nine more than the next starter.
Beth Brzozowski — Brzozowski is the definition of a clutch player. It just feels like whenever Penn needs a spark, the guard is there to hit that big three. She started the scoring for Penn, getting the team's first two buckets, but her biggest contribution was galvanizing the Red and Blue's 14-0 run in the third quarter with a huge three and a jumper on consecutive possessions. She also hit perhaps the final dagger in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach for good, and finished the game with a season-high 16 points.
Anna Ross — Three pointers, rebounds, assists, steals — Anna Ross did it all today. During Penn's big run in the third quarter, the junior guard had five points and four assists in a three-minute span. She also helped the Quakers establish a lead early on the game, with a pair of layups and a three in the first quarter.
Penn's defense is legit — Brown had the best offensive unit in the Ivy League, but it didn't look like it today. The Quakers defense held Brown to just 33.8% shooting, a full eight percentage points lower than their average, and aside from a big run in the second quarter, the Bears struggled to find and make quality shots at their usual clip. It was a good sign for Penn, as it showed they can force even great offensive teams to play how the Quakers want them to.
Penn is ready for Stipanovich's graduation — Sydney Stipanovich is one of the best players in program history, but today's game showed that they'll be just fine when she graduates at the end of the year. Stip played only 30 minutes, tied for fewest of the starters, and scored eight points, and the offense looked just fine when she was on the bench. Even when she was on the floor, the offense did not run through her as much as it used to. Penn might have to change the way they play a little bit, but they will definitely find success next year.
Brown will be back — The Quakers might be victorious today, but Brown will most certainly be back. The Bears have an extremely young core, as all five of their starters were sophomores or freshmen. Led by Second-Team All-Ivy members Justine Gaziano and Shayna Mehta, Brown has a bright future, and will certainly provide a challenge for the rest of the league for the next few years.
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