Anna Ross might be the definition of selfless.
In a dominating win on Sunday, Penn women’s basketball easily took care of Gwynedd Mercy, 89-25. The highlight of the game wasn’t the score differential – one point away from tying a program record – but rather Ross, the Quakers’ senior point guard, finally breaking the program assist record with a career total of 429 and counting.
Up until the record-breaking assist, Penn’s whole bench was frozen with anticipation, and there were many close calls. In the first quarter, Ross was dishing it out, but the Quakers (11-5, 2-1 Ivy) started out slow on offense and many of the potential baskets rimmed out. In one instance in the second quarter, where it seemed as if she had finally done it, the basket didn’t count due to a walk.
And then finally, after a slick pass to the post moments later, Ross became the new owner of the record. The bench erupted with excitement, and after a timeout was called, Ross was embraced in a tight huddle by her coaches and team due to her outstanding achievement.
“It’s a really special moment, and I’m glad I can celebrate it with my teammates,” Ross said.
And, of course, her teammates shared the feeling of accomplishment.
“Since freshman year she’s been the glue of this team,” senior guard Lauren Whitlatch added.
The rest of the game indicated a dominant Penn squad. Anytime the Griffins (12-7) put together anything resembling a run, the Quakers would immediately answer. This pattern of success can be attributed to the team’s extremely active defense, which practically suffocated any of the visitor’s attempts to turn this blowout into a game.
Due to the clear advantage Penn had over Gwynedd Mercy coming into Sunday’s matchup, the team decided to experiment with different defensive approaches. Throughout the first half, the Quakers frequently initiated a full court press, leading to many turnovers for the Griffins. Coach Mike McLaughlin had his players switching between man and zone defenses as well, both proving to be effective against a hampered Gwynedd Mercy offense.
“We were working on a few things that we needed to go into league play,” McLaughlin said
The Quakers ended up posting 15 steals, nine blocks, and 29 points off turnovers to cap an amazing defensive performance. Penn even forced shot clock violations on multiple occasions.
Another aspect of the teams’ discrepancy was height. Gwynedd Mercy only had three players six feet or taller. As for the Quakers? Nine. This physical advantage led to many mismatches in the post, the Quakers putting up 42 points in the paint, and a lot of offensive boards – 29 to be exact.
This game marked the last non-conference matchup before an onslaught of Ivy head-to-heads culminating in the Ivy League tournament, which will be hosted at the Palestra during the last weekend of Penn’s spring break. Next, Penn will be traveling to play Brown in Providence this coming Friday after a short break in action.
Armed with a unique chemistry headed by Ross and others, as well as a tough and versatile defense, the Quakers certainly have a chance to dance come March.
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