For the Penn women's basketball team's five seniors, it could not have ended any sweeter. Four years ago, they joined a team that went 6-20 the previous season and finished last in the Ivy League. Yesterday, they completed a perfect Ivy League season and cut down the nets after their 78-69 victory over Princeton. "It's the saddest time and the most happy ever," Penn senior forward Diana Caramanico said, trying to hold back tears. "It's been a great four years... what makes it great is my coaches and my team. To finish on this kind of a note is just incredible." In addition to the jubilation of running the table in the Ancient Eight, it was an emotional night for the Quakers' seniors -- Caramanico, Erin Ladley, Claire Cavanaugh, Jessica Allen and Elisabeth Alexander. Their final game at the Palestra began with a ceremony, in which all five seniors were honored with their parents. A few minutes later, Cavanaugh sang the National Anthem before the opening tip-off. "I just always liked to sing. I sing around the team a lot and they kind of made me do it," Cavanaugh said. "No one on the team or the coaches would tell you that I'm shy, but I am a little reserved as far as performing. But I lost a bet, so I made good on it." Despite her successful debut behind the microphone, Cavanaugh does not plan on pursing a career in singing. In fact, she will be joining the Penn women's coaching staff next season. In honor of Senior Night, Penn coach Kelly Greenberg opted to start all five seniors, letting them play the first several minutes of the game together. Allen scored four points and grabbed one rebound, while Cavanaugh and Alexander, a Daily Pennsylvanian photographer, each registered one assist during the game's opening minutes. As usual, the Quakers' captains -- Caramanico and Ladley -- played almost the entire contest and once again helped lead the Red and Blue to victory. Caramanico led Penn with 26 points, which increased her career total to an even 2,400 points. She also did a little bit of everything else, getting eight rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal. Meanwhile, Ladley was the Quakers' biggest rebounder and playmaker. She grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out five assists. The senior guard was also instrumental in erasing Princeton's second half lead. Seventeen of Ladley's 21 points came in the second half, and the 21-point performance moved her to 10th all-time in career points for a Penn women's basketball player. While the seniors' contributions on the court are easy to quantify, their teammates and coaches feel their contribution off the court is immeasurable. "They're leaving so much more than points and rebounds," Greenberg said. "They're leaving a work ethic that hopefully has made this program rock solid." The efforts of these five athletes, along with the addition of Greenberg at the helm, have quickly turned Penn's program around from worst to first in four years. Although the players from the Class of 2001 will never compete on the Palestra hardwood again, their season is far from over. In just over a week, the Quakers will play in the NCAA Tournament.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.