Many good things came to a pleasant end for the record-setting Penn women's basketball team last night as the Quakers rolled over Princeton, 68-54, at the Palestra in the season finale for both teams. Penn guard Mandy West, the lone senior on the team, capped her collegiate career with a 17-point night, including a pair of three-pointers that put the Quakers (18-10, 9-5 Ivy League) up by 18 late in the first half. "That totally took the momentum out of Princeton," Penn forward Diana Caramanico said. "When somebody hits two threes on you in a row when your game is to shoot threes? she just beat them at their own game." Caramanico played solidly in the paint to lead all scorers with 22 points, which included a short bank shot midway through the second half that put the Quakers up by 19 points -- Penn's largest lead of the night. The Penn tri-captain's shot and the Quakers' huge lead was answered, though, by the heroics of Princeton guard Kate Thirolf. The senior took the Tigers (9-19, 6-8) on her back for four full minutes in the heart of the second half, mounting a solo, 9-2 comeback that was met only by a pair of Caramanico free throws with 9:44 left. Running on the momentum of Thirolf -- who totaled a team-high 17 points before fouling out with 1:13 remaining -- Princeton managed to bring the deficit down to eight with two minutes to go. By that time, however, the Tigers were forced to begin fouling a Penn team that shoots 72 percent at the line. "We had a lot of shooters out there, and I really thought we could shake loose and knock down a couple of threes," Princeton coach Liz Feeley said. "We didn't capitalize on our next possession after we cut it to eight, and then we started fouling. And once we started fouling, all they had to do was knock them down." West went 5-for-5 at the free throw line last night -- including a pair that pushed the Penn lead up to 10 points with 1:13 left on the clock -- preserving her claim to the Penn career free-throw percentage record at 82 percent. And by night's end, West could claim a second team record. Including the two treys last night, West leaves the Red and Blue holding the team record for most threes made in a season with a total of 77 hit from downtown in her final Penn campaign. West's record-setting numbers have drawn deserved respect from opposing sides as well as her own team. "You have to contest her shot," Feeley said. "You basically have to be right there, sitting on her right hand to stop her. That's why she's scored over 1,000 points in two years, because she can just knock those down." But the departing tri-captain isn't only known for her shooting touch. Her special guard-forward passing connection with Caramanico -- who finished her junior year last night just 19 points shy of Ernie Beck's all-time Penn scoring mark -- is also an aspect of West's game that has resulted in individual and team success. This connection was highlighted in the game's final minute, when West made her last assist as a Quaker from midcourt under a Princeton double-team to an open Caramanico down low. Caramanico's layup -- giving the star forward the last of her 22 points and Penn a 66-54 lead -- provided West with a fitting end to her Penn career. "I'm glad it ended on that," West said. "Di and I have complemented each other so well. I wouldn't get all my open shots from the outside [without her], and vice-versa with her. I think it's pretty cool that we ended on that connection." Caramanico, too, was pleased that their connection was the closing chapter of West's tenure in a Penn uniform. "I actually thought about that when she passed to me, that it might be the last time," Caramanico said. "It was really special. Just the feeling that we had that connection and we knew what the other person was thinking, that's really special and I'll really miss it next season." The Quakers, riding the West-Caramanico connection for the last time, hardly missed a beat against Princeton in the first half. After trading the lead with the Tigers for the first six minutes, Penn finally broke free with a 10-0 run over a three-minute span that put the game virtually out of reach for Princeton. The run was halted midway through the half on a three-pointer from Princeton guard Allison Cahill, but it was not enough to cool the red-hot Quakers. By halftime, Penn was up by a comfortable 38-23 margin on impressive 62 percent shooting from the floor. The team was anchored by Caramanico and West, who both contributed 10 points in the opening stanza. The 15-point deficit on the scoreboard was unnerving for Princeton in its halftime locker room. "We knew that we would have to keep Penn in the 50s in order to have any chance to win this game," said Feeley, whose Tigers had not given up more than 51 points per game in their last six contests. With the victory over Princeton, Penn ends the season with 18 total wins and a .643 winning percentage, both team records. The Quakers also scored a team-record 2,122 total points, with a record-breaking team scoring average of 75.8 points per game.Comments powered by Disqus
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