BOSTON --With one minute and nine seconds to play on Friday night at Dartmouth, Erin Ladley's slump continued to plague her. Penn's senior guard was 4-for-18 from the field and hadn't hit a three-pointer all night. But with the shot clock running down, Ladley hit a triple to put Penn up 51-45. The bomb was reminiscent of her game-turning shot from near half court against Columbia in all but one respect. "She was in the zip code this time," Ladley's fellow co-captain Diana Caramanico said. The three was the first of Ladley's 10 points in the final 1:09 against Dartmouth that helped to seal a 59-55 win. It was a perfect prelude to Saturday night's Ivy clincher. Ladley needed six points to reach 1,000 for her career. Caramanico needed 12 to set the Ivy League career record. And the Quakers needed only to beat Harvard in Boston to win their first-ever Ivy League title. The Red and Blue played pretty well in the first half at Harvard, shooting 56 percent from the field. But they only led the Crimson by one point at intermission. After halftime, Lavietes Pavilion played host to the Ladley and Caramanico show. Twenty-five seconds into the second half, Jennifer Jones hit a three-pointer. For the next 19:19, Ladley and Caramanico were the only members of the Red and Blue to score. The two seniors combined for 24 points to lead Penn to its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. "At halftime, we were only up one. We thought we could have been up a lot more," Penn coach Kelly Greenberg said. "That first couple minute stretch, Erin just went crazy." Ladley's burst for four points and two assists in the opening minutes of the second half gave Penn an eight-point lead, its largest of the night. But it was Caramanico who saved the day after Harvard went on a 10-0 run to take the lead. Caramanico scored nine points in three minutes when her team needed her the most. During that time, Harvard scored four, while the rest of the Quakers scored none. Appropriately, Caramanico broke Allison Feaster's career Ivy League scoring record on a layup that gave Penn the lead. "No matter what, Diana finds a way to lead this team, and she did it again tonight," Greenberg said. "She hit some huge baskets when we needed them, gets the rebounds at the end and she'll go down as the leading scorer in Ivy League history, and I hope it stays that way for a long time." For the night, both of Penn's co-captains tallied 20 points. Both shot 7-for-13 from the field. Caramanico pulled down eight boards, while Ladley dished out four assists. Both reached their personal milestones, but more importantly to each, the Quakers have their first league title. "This is all we've ever wanted for the team," Caramanico said. "The final 20 minutes, we just tried to do everything we could." After those 20 minutes, the Red and Blue have the nation's longest winning streak, and for the first time in the program's history, Penn swept Dartmouth and Harvard on the road. "We've just been around for four years, we really wanted to win it tonight," Ladley said. "If we could do it at Harvard, then why don't we do it?" With their senior leaders, the Quakers could do it and did do it. At the beginning of the season, questions revolved around both leaders -- whether Caramanico could survive being triple-teamed without graduated first-team All Ivy guard Mandy West in the backcourt, and whether Ladley could help sufficiently to fill West's scoring shoes. Eleven Ivy League victories later, it's clear just how those questions have been answered by Penn's co-captains. "I can't say enough about the two of them," Greenberg said after the final buzzer on Saturday. "They're unbelievable."Comments powered by Disqus
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