While the Penn women's basketball team added to its impressive program-record winning streak this weekend by notching two more victories, the Quakers also came a few steps closer to a more important goal -- their first-ever Ivy League championship. With wins over Harvard and Dartmouth at the Palestra last weekend, the Red and Blue now sport a perfect 6-0 conference record. More importantly, they have a 1 1/2-game lead over the Crimson and a two-game edge in the loss column, a sizeable margin this early in the season. However, the league title is far from being in the bag. The Red and Blue have yet to complete even half of their Ancient Eight schedule. Also, the Quakers still have to trek up to Boston to square off against Harvard and will host third-place Brown before the season is over. And, as the Quakers certainly remember, they started with six straight Ivy League wins last year before dropping five of their final eight Ivy contests to finish 9-5. "We started off 6-0 last year and didn't win the Ivies," Penn senior forward Diana Caramanico said. "We're constantly learning and we can't settle for what we have now." Still, the Quakers have reasons to be optimistic about attaining their first Ancient Eight crown. In the past 18 seasons, the Ivy League winner has had three losses only four times. Every Ancient Eight team, other than Penn and Harvard, already has at least three defeats in this season's Ivy campaign. And the Quakers stamped an impressive 14-point victory over the Crimson at the Palestra on Friday night. Also, the Big Green -- two-time defending champ and perennial contender for the Ivy title -- has already amassed four losses and seems to be slipping out of contention. "This was a really huge weekend for us and one that puts Dartmouth in a tough position," Penn senior guard Erin Ladley said. Another positive for the Red and Blue is that Harvard tips off against Brown this weekend. Thus, either the Bears will pick up their fourth loss and have a steep uphill climb for the rest of the season or Harvard will record its third defeat and be pressed to string together a winning streak to keep its chances for the title alive. Probably the most important advantage that the Quakers have secured for themselves this early in the quest for the Ancient Eight crown is that they now control their own destiny. The Red and Blue can spare a loss in the next eight games and still see themselves in the NCAA brackets for the first time come March. However, the Quakers would like to finish their Ivy season with an unblemished record to ensure that they see some postseason action. "Each game is a championship game and a must-win," Epton said. "We would like to try hard to be undefeated." For the Red and Blue to finish with a perfect Ancient Eight record means the Quakers will have won their last 21 games. Although compiling such a huge winning streak seems improbable, Penn continues to find ways to win and soon may be one of the first teams penciled in for the field of 64.Comments powered by Disqus
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