While the Penn women's basketball team will rely on its veteran leadership while the Quakers try to capture their first Ivy League title this weekend in New England, the Penn hopes might be dashed by one of the Ancient Eight's youngest stars. After battling a tough Dartmouth squad Friday night, the Quakers will have no reprieve Saturday as they tip off against Harvard and freshman phenom Hana Peljto. On Monday, Peljto was named Rookie of the Week for the third straight week, marking the sixth time this year she has earned the honor. Peljto is about as assured of being crowned Ivy League Rookie of the Year as the Red and Blue's Diana Caramanico is of taking home her third Player of the Year honor. Clearly, Peljto, who hails from Osseo High School in Brooklyn Park, Minn., has more in common with Penn's star forward than her 6'2'' stature. Peljto, like Caramanico, is a terror around the basket in both converting scoring opportunities and grabbing rebounds. The freshman forward is averaging an impressive 15.3 points and 8.4 boards per game, placing her second in the conference -- behind Caramanico -- in scoring and fourth in rebounding. "Hana is a dominant player, like Di in many regards," Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. "Di is not one-dimensional. If you try to stop one dimension of her game, she finds another way. "Hana is of the same mold... and she gets better each game." Peljto also strikingly resembles Caramanico in her humility. While she is the clear favorite for Ivy League Rookie of the Year, she never gloats about her success. "Ihaven't thought about it, but it would be an honor [to win Rookie of the Year]," Peljto said. Although Peljto hasn't spent time reflecting on her own accomplishments, she certainly has all her opponents -- the Quakers included -- grasping for answers. "We've been focusing a lot on her," Penn senior guard Erin Ladley said. "If we contain her, we can contain the whole team." But the Quakers know they have their own weapons in the frontcourt to counteract Peljto's attack. "We know she's a great player and we definitely respect her game, but we're not going to let her push us around," Penn senior forward Julie Epton said. "She is versatile but so are our forwards, and we are equipped to handle her in size and quickness." Penn's interior defense was solid in its last encounter with the Crimson, as the Quakers held Peljto to 12 points and six rebounds en route to earning a 65-51 victory. The Red and Blue may have a tougher time containing the stellar Crimson forward this time around. Peljto is hot off of a scorching weekend in which she averaged 23 points and eight boards. Still, no player or team is as hot as the Quakers are right now, and the Rookie of the Year to-be is going to have to put together a heroic performance to stop the Red and Blue from having their first net-cutting ceremony.Comments powered by Disqus
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