On to the tournament.
Penn women’s basketball defeated Brown 67-56 to finish the regular season on a three-game winning streak. The Quakers topped Yale 64-52 the night before.
Penn (20-7, 11-3 Ivy) led Brown (15-12, 3-11) for most of the game, but the second half featured more than a few nervous moments for the Red and Blue. Across the last two quarters, the Bears continued to cut into the Quakers’ ten-point halftime lead, but Penn was able to prevent their opponents from going ahead. The result was a scoreline that showed Penn up by only two or three possessions for virtually the entirety of the half.
“I don’t think we were clean enough. We had the ball a couple times up eight, had a chance to have a really good possession,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “I don’t think we executed at the right time there to put them away. But give [Yale] credit they just kept coming at us. We had a couple [defensive] breakdowns in there, they capitalized on it.”
With about two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Brown’s biggest push landed them within two. After a Brown 9-1 run, the game hung in the balance; but the veteran Quakers found a way to respond. On senior night, it was those being honored who were able to get the job done when they were needed most.
Forward Michelle Nwokedi’s bucket stopped the bleeding, and her steal on the ensuing Brown possession set up an Anna Ross jumper that re-extended the lead to six. From there, four straight free throws from guard Beth Brzozowski and a fifth from Nwokedi completed the 9-0 Penn run to close out the game.
“That gave us some separation. We had a couple big rebounds there,” McLaughlin said. “We did execute at the right time, we rebounded the ball, and Beth gave us the separation we needed.”
One notable player who did not have the greatest game was freshman Eleah Parker. The center went 3 of 10 from the floor, and finished with four personal fouls, a factor that limited her minutes substantially.
While McLaughlin acknowledged the fatigue that comes with this time of year, he said there is “no concern at all” about Parker’s play. With spring break now in full swing, the hope is that Parker and her teammates are able to rest and be fully prepared for the Ivy Tournament next weekend.
Against Yale (15-12, 8-6), Penn experienced a lot fewer of those nervous moments. The biggest one again came when an opponent closed the gap to just two points. This time, a 12-0 Yale run at the close of the second quarter replaced Penn’s early 19-2 lead, with a 31-29 score at the half.
The third quarter was a return to the dominance Penn exhibited in the first, and the Quakers ended up coasting to a dominant win over the Ivy Tournament’s lowest seed.
With the win over Brown, Penn wrapped up their own seed — the Quakers finished second behind only Princeton — and will face Harvard in the Ivy Tournament on Saturday.
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