WBBPreview_Ross

Senior guard Anna Ross is just five assists away from tying program record and has a chance to break the record against Temple.

Credit: Chase Sutton

"Why not?" 

That’s the mentality for Penn women's basketball coach Mike McLaughlin as his team heads into its Big 5 matchup against Temple and its upcoming slew of Ivy League games in the coming weeks. 

Fresh off their last-second victory over Villanova last Wednesday, the Red and Blue (9-5, 2-1 Big 5) now turn their attention to Temple (9-9, 2-1). 

There's always extra excitement and added motivation surrounding Big 5 matchups, and the seniors know it's their last opportunity to secure a coveted Big 5 title.  

"Last week, we thought 'this is our last time to finally get a win over Villanova' and that was enough to do it for us," senior guard Anna Ross said. 

The Quakers have won their last three games, two of which came against conference opponents Cornell and Columbia.  

Temple, on the other hand, has been trending in the opposite direction. The Owls are looking to right the ship after dropping each of their previous four games and six of their last seven, including a 56-point defeat at the hands of No. 1 UConn this past Sunday. 

McLaughlin, however, knows that the Owls still pose a definitive threat.  

"They do a great job of attacking the glass and producing second chance opportunities, so we need to limit their space and stop them from converting those second chance points," McLaughlin said. 

Containing Temple's Tanaya Atkinson looks to be a major challenge for the Quakers defense, as the 6-foot guard leads the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in scoring (22.9 PPG) and rebounding (9.6 RPG).  

"She is very, very good," McLaughlin said, "She's a great athlete and she can score in all three phases of the game and she's going to be a tough matchup, for sure." 

Wednesday night's game could be one to remember for Ross, as she goes into the contest just five assists shy of matching the school record. Ross, who is averaging 5.9 assists per game on the season, is certainly in good position to accomplish the feat against Temple. 

"She has been a huge factor in our success over the years and with our last two Ivy League Championships," McLaughlin said. 

Ross loves to get her teammates involved and attributes part of her success to their strong play throughout her time at Penn. 

"I have been fortunate to play with three of the best post players who have ever gone through Penn, which has been awesome, and I am just honored to share the court with them," Ross said. 

One of those strong post presences is freshman standout center Eleah Parker, who once again has been named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week for this past week. 

"Eleah has turned it up another level and makes everyone around her better," McLaughlin said. 

"We're definitely going to need her for the big games, with the Big 5 championship and Ivy League play, Ross added. "I don’t think anyone can stop her." 

Senior guard Lauren Whitlatch has been spreading the floor well and converting her chances too, as she is shooting a career-high 37 percent from beyond the arc and averaging just over ten points per game. 

Throughout the Quakers' recent win streak, McLaughlin has seen vast improvements from his team in terms of scoring the ball and getting out in transition. 

"I am confident we're improving, we're in a good spot, and we're going to carry that momentum into our upcoming stretch of games," McLaughlin said. 

The Red and Blue currently hold second place in the Ivy League, with a conference record of 2-1. They are well on their way to the Ivy League tournament and McLaughlin and his team believe they can win their third straight Ivy League Championship.  

And, why not? 

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.