The Penn women's basketball team ended its home season in tremendous fashion this weekend as it beat Harvard on Friday and Dartmouth on Saturday. The victories kept the Quakers (10-13, 6-5 Ivy League) mathematically alive in the Ivy race. "On Friday I challenged the team's pride and on Saturday I questioned their will and they responded on both occasions," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. Although Friday's win over the Crimson was easier than Saturday's victory over the Big Green, both were rewarding. The contest, much like Penn's last game against Harvard (8-14, 5-6 Ivy League), was close from beginning to end. The Quakers started out playing tough defense but were stagnant on offense, tentatively anticipating sophomore Diana Caramanico's 1,000th career point. "The first three or four times down the court we were running plays through Diana with the hope that she would score," Soriero said. "When she didn't we took a timeout and I told the team that the points would come? they seemed to loosen up after that." Penn became more relaxed, and at 10:48 of the first half Caramanico became only the 12th player in Penn history to score 1,000 points. The game stopped as her teammates and parents presented her with flowers and the crowd gave her a standing ovation. "She got it and I'm happy for her," Soriero said. Although Caramanico's achievement was the big news in the Harvard game, the team's performance won accolades as well. "I think Penn played a great game," Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. "When you hold a team to 29 points in the first half, you expect to win the game and Penn was able to do that and we weren't." The Quakers, notorious for their second-half collapses -- including the last one against Harvard, a 60-58 Penn loss on February 6 -- stayed tough in the second stanza to pull out the win. The score was tied at the half, but with 13:17 left in the game, Mandy West drilled a trey to put the team up for good. Standouts for Penn in the Harvard game included not only Caramanico and West but also Erin Ladley, who scored a career-high 18 points. "Erin really played a great game," Soriero said. "She made some key shots and also made some key stops." Any confidence the Quakers might have had after Friday's win did not show in the beginning of Saturday's game against Dartmouth. Conversely, the Big Green, who were coming off a huge win of their own against Ivy-leading Princeton (9-2 Ivy), came out strong, scoring the first five points of the game. Penn came back to take a 6-5, but Dartmouth (15-8, 8-3) simply seemed to want it more, going on a 11-2 run with seven minutes left in the half. The Big Green extended their lead to 12 going into the half. "We were dominated in not one aspect of the game in the first half, we were outplayed in every aspect," West said. Soriero reminded the Quakers that they could win if they played an aggressive game and refused to be intimidated. But at first it looked as if the second half would be the same as the first, as Dartmouth took a 14-point lead with 1:02 gone by in the half. Penn responded with energized play, however, as Ladley nailed a jumper and Jessica Allen hit a quick layup. "We began to put pressure on them and they became tentative," Soriero said. "The large lead seemed to spur us more than it helped them." Penn continued its pressure with a 6-0 run, but Dartmouth followed with its own 11-4 run, to make the Big Green lead 11 once again. But the Quakers refused to quit. The teams traded baskets until a three by Ladley and two treys by West tied the game with 2:37 remaining. Penn then committed two turnovers but the Big Green failed to convert. With 43 seconds to go, Allen made two foul shots to put the Quakers up two. Dartmouth charged back, however, as Nicci Rinaldi went end to end and scored a lay-up with 30 seconds on the clock to send the game to overtime. Dartmouth took a four-point lead to begin overtime but Penn stormed back to tie it with 2:25 to go. Caramanico put the Quakers up for good with a layup at 3:52. Ladley sealed the win with a foul shot with 0.2 seconds left. "It was a really emotional game in many ways," West said. "Dartmouth didn't think they were going to lose and we knew we had the heart to win." The game was sentimental for Soriero, who coached her last game at the Palestra after 10 years leading the Quakers, and for senior Sue Van Stone, playing in her final home game. "The team knew the significance of the game, and I just reminded them of it in the huddle at the beginning of the game," West said. "The win meant that much more because of coach and Sue." The Quakers hope to keep their winning streak alive next weekend when they travel to New York to face Cornell and Columbia. "We just have to keep playing the way we are playing and not get complacent," West said. The Quakers are three games behind league-leading Princeton with three games remaining to play, including the season finale at Princeton.Comments powered by Disqus
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