Last year, the sounding of the game-ending buzzer at Harvard's Lavietes Pavilion signaled to all in attendance that the Penn women's basketball team had just clinched its first-ever Ivy League title.
Last week, that same sound dealt an opposite and cruel dose of reality to the Penn faithful -- the Quakers probably will not be defending their Ancient Eight crown.
With the 59-55 loss to the Crimson on Friday, Penn (9-13, 5-4 Ivy League) fell three games back of Harvard in the conference standings.
And now with just five Ivy games left, any combination of three Harvard wins and Penn losses will eliminate the Quakers from contention for the 2001-02 title.
"We do understand that we're not totally out of the Ivy League race, but we also know that we need to get a lot of help from other people," Penn coach Kelly Greenberg said. "So now we're just trying to focus on us."
Part of that inner focus includes a new goal to finish the season 6-0 after the Harvard loss.
The Quakers got off on the right foot last Saturday, defeating Dartmouth, 64-60, in Hanover, N.H.
The Red and Blue will head north this weekend to continue their mission. Penn will take on Brown (5-18, 2-8) tonight at the Pizzitola Center in Providence, R.I., then travel to New Haven, Conn., tomorrow for a matchup with Yale (12-11, 5-5) at the Lee Amphitheater.
Notching a 2-0 record this weekend will not be easy. First, Penn must go through the Bears, which Greenberg believes will be much tougher than they were two weeks ago at the Palestra.
"It's always scary to play teams on the road after you beat them at home, because you can get the false sense that it's going to be an easy one," Greenberg said.
It definitely will not be an easy one for the Quakers if the Bears' play last weekend is any indication of how the they will play tonight.
Although they were not able to grab a win, the Bears came within one of beating Columbia on Friday and lost by just two to Cornell.
Once again, the Quakers will be significantly challenged by Brown's height advantage.
The Quakers will need to make up for that with a strong effort on team defense similar to the one they had two weeks ago.
Multiple Penn players had steals in the contest against the Bears, which led to easy layups for guard Jewel Clark.
The sophomore sensation rang up 26 points in the 86-63 blowout over Brown on Feb. 9, and the Quakers will probably need a similar contribution from her tonight.
Clark has been especially reliable in Ivy competition, averaging 18.8 points, 11 rebounds and 2.89 steals per game. She is first or second in the league in all three categories.
The Elis do not have an individual star like Penn's Clark, but will utilize a number of talented backcourt players who all have the potential for a scoring outburst.
"They have five, six, seven girls that can come in, put it on the floor and shoot the three," Greenberg said. "We just have to play smart against them and not let them get into what they do well."
Most importantly, the Quakers need to understand that Brown and Yale will not be pushovers.
"I hope our players realize that just because we beat them here [at the Palestra], doesn't mean it's going to be an easy one," Greenberg said. "Because it'll be the furthest thing from it."Comments powered by Disqus
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