Coming off a rough weekend in which the Quakers lost two Ivy League games, Penn will start its first road swing in more than two months tonight.
Coach Mike McLaughlin will look for leadership from his seniors when the Penn women’s basketball team heads to Cornell and Columbia tonight and Saturday, respectively. Both games will tip off at 7 p.m.
“At times like these, we really need to look up to our seniors, to our experienced players,” McLaughlin said. “Not only do they have the most maturity on the court, but they also serve as leaders in the locker room, and set examples for their younger teammates.”
Particularly important to him is senior guard Sarah Bucar, who has led the Quakers (1-18, 0-5 Ivy) in scoring this season, averaging 9.0 points per game.
“[Our seniors] are all going to have to be able to drive inside to score points for us,” McLaughlin added. “The offensive end has been a challenge for us this year, and there’s no doubt we’ll have to improve in that aspect of the game in order to compete.”
Penn is shooting 30.2 percent from the floor on the season, and 19.9 percent from behind the arc, placing the team last in the Ivy League in scoring offense. The coach has been concerned by his team’s shot selection throughout the season.
Offensive production will be especially important against the Lions (13-7, 4-2), who lead the Ivy League in steals this season and are second in rebounding and turnover margin.
“Against Columbia, it will be a matter of controlling the pace of the game,” McLaughlin said of his team’s strategy against the Lions. “By playing well defensively, hopefully we can set our offense up for success.”
Columbia is second in the Ivy League, behind undefeated Princeton. The Lions have been especially competitive at home, winning six of their eight home games. Even their losses were competitive, with one coming in overtime, and the other against No. 24 St. John’s.
Meanwhile, Cornell (5-14, 0-6) is mired in an 11-game losing streak, a drought of length that even the Quakers have managed to avoid (Penn currently sits on a nine-game losing streak). During this streak, the Big Red are 0-3 at home.
But Cornell’s three-point shooting ability still poses a threat to the Quakers. The Big Red have made 35.1 percent of their three-pointers on the season.
“They’re not a team that scores a lot of points,” he said. “But they can make threes, which can keep any team in any game. We’ll have to take the perimeter away from them.”
Cornell has the last-ranked defense in the Ivy League — the same defense that allowed the Quakers to complete a season sweep of the Big Red last year for the first time since 2005.
Heading into the first of those two matchups with Cornell last year, Penn faced a scenario much like the one currently at hand. They were 3-15 overall at that point and winless in the Ivy League.
But the team rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit for a win in Ithaca that essentially saved their season, propelling them to a 6-4 finish.
This year’s Quakers will aim for that same feat, hoping to add to their sole win this season, a 52-48 final against St. Francis (N.Y.) on New Year’s Eve.Comments powered by Disqus
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