Penn women’s basketball easily handled Dartmouth in a 65-47 win at the Palestra. The Quakers were ahead comfortably for the majority of the game, leading to an expanded bench, particularly in the second half. The win put Penn in a tie with Princeton for first place after the Tigers beat Harvard, Penn’s next opponent. Here are four takeaways from the game.
Ashley Russell is a force
The junior guard finished with 14 points after scoring 12 in the first half. Russell played with her trademark hustle, securing seven rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. These extra opportunities allowed the Quakers to pull away from Dartmouth, even when Penn wasn’t playing at their best.
Russell’s three-point shooting was another highlight, as the Braintree, Mass. native hit two big ones in the first half.
The most impressive part of Russell’s night was the fact that she put up all of those stats while playing only 27 minutes.
Dartmouth gets physical against Nwokedi
The Big Green seemed to come in with a specific game plan in mind: stopping senior forward Michelle Nwokedi. Dartmouth lacked the size to combat Nwokedi and center Eleah Parker one-on-one, so the Big Green double teamed the two early and often. Against Nwokedi, the Dartmouth defenders failed to have too much of an effect – Nwokedi drew foul after foul, earning second chances and new possessions.
While Nwokedi didn’t light up the stat sheet, her mere presence on the floor drew attention away from her teammates, allowing players like Russell and Parker to get open.
The bench saw expanded action
Coach Mike McLaughlin explained his increased willingness to go to the bench by citing both the quick turnaround to the Harvard game and an illness that has been running through the team.
“I thought we’ve been battling a little bit, a lot of kids have been sick, so we wanted to not extend too far tonight,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin had high praise for senior guard Beth Brzozowski, who played well at both point guard and shooting guard. McLaughlin said that Brzozowski’s strong performance allowed him to rest senior Anna Ross.
In all, 15 players saw the floor for Penn, with all but four registering at least one point. The result was a balanced scoring lineup that saw no player stay on the court too long. If nothing else, Penn should be well rested for the back end of the Ivy weekend.
The biggest game until March is next Tuesday
While the Quakers have yet to reach the halfway point of the Ivy League season, the back-to-back champions should make the tournament without too much trouble. The only team that has threated the Red and Blue so far is the one that beat them: Princeton.
Penn’s next game is against Harvard in less than 24 hours. As important as that game is, Harvard now has two losses, including an 80-47 loss to the Tigers Friday night. If that blowout means anything, the rested Quakers should feel comfortable in their ability to dispatch the Crimson.
Regardless of the outcome of that game, Princeton looms. If Penn wants to take the top seed in the Ivy Tournament come March, the game to watch is next week in New Jersey.
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