Riding an 11-game winning streak laden with gutsy, hard-fought victories, the Penn women's basketball team returns to the friendly confines of the Palestra this weekend to face two familiar foes -- Harvard and Dartmouth. The Quakers(12-5, 4-0 Ivy League), who have played only one home game in the past month, look for the home-court advantage to help them maintain their perfect Ivy League record and prolong their program-record winning streak. But as last week's barnburners in New Haven, Conn., and Providence, R.I. -- in which the Red and Blue needed overtime to outlast Yale, 92-80, and last-minute heroics to knock off Brown, 77-72 -- proved that every Ancient Eight game might be a struggle. "Any team [in the Ivy League] on any given night can win any game, which makes it fun," Penn junior forward Julie Epton said. "That is why you come out to play." Certainly, the Quakers will have their hands full Friday night against the Crimson (7-11, 4-1), who are coming into the game as winners of six of their last seven. Harvard features a strong frontcourt, led by freshman phenom and leading candidate for Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Hana Peljto. "We have to stop the inside game of Harvard," Penn senior co-captain Diana Caramanico said. "We need to play good team defense and limit the touches their post players get." On Saturday, the Quakers will welcome defending champion Dartmouth, which is struggling so far this season. Despite the Big Green's record (6-12, 2-3), Dartmouth won't be a pushover. The Big Green have been playing well as of late, as they've won five of their last six games. The Quakers, however, have added incentive in seeking a victory over Dartmouth. The Big Green handed the Red and Blue two losses last year en route to capturing the Ivy crown. "We don't forget what happened last year," Epton said. "They took it to us last year and we need to do the same this year and show who we are and that we deserve to be where we are." To erase the woes of last year's losses against Dartmouth and to overcome a formidable Harvard squad, the Red and Blue will rely on tenacious defense and controlling the boards. "Defense and rebounding are key," Penn coach Kelly Greenberg said. "A lot of our winning streak is due to rebounding." Last weekend, the Quakers' effort on the glass was huge, as they outrebounded Yale and nearly doubled the Bears' total boards, 45-24. The Crimson's tough inside presence and the Big Green's frontcourt, led by sophomore forward Katharine Hanks, who is averaging a robust 8.4 boards a game, will test the Red and Blue's glasswork. Offensively, Penn will look to use all of its talented weapons to attack the Harvard and Dartmouth defenses. Caramanico has been a consistent force inside all year, posting numbers worthy of Ivy League Player of the Year consideration. Recently, though, other Quakers have stepped up their play to help Penn pull out some clutch wins. Senior guard and current Ivy League Player of the Week Erin Ladley scored 42 points during last weekend's trip. Freshman Jewel Clark put the Quakers up for good against Brown last weekend with a clutch lay-up. Sophomore guards Tara Twomey and Jennifer Jones combined for 30 points against Yale on Friday, and were integral in propelling the Quakers to an overtime win. "On any night, you can call on any of our team members," Clark said. "If they try to focus on one, another steps up." Clearly, the Quakers have the weapons to stay atop the Ivy and continue their unprecedented streak. But, this weekend will be a test that the Crimson and Big Green will make tough for the Red and Blue to pass with flying colors.Comments powered by Disqus
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