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Sophomore center Sydney Stipanovich led the Red and Blue past Dartmouth on Friday night.

With nonconference play in the rearview mirror, it’s Ivy action from here on out for Penn women’s basketball. The defending champions showed their prowess this weekend against both Dartmouth and Harvard.

The Red and Blue cruised by Dartmouth on Friday night, holding the Big Green to just 27 percent from the field in a 55-39 road win at Leede Arena, before surviving a furious late-game rally to beat Harvard 74-69 at Lavietes Pavilion on Saturday.

Sophomore center Sydney Stipanovich led the Quakers (11-6, 2-1 Ivy) on Friday with 16 points, nine boardsand three blocks, pacing the team in each category. Penn also got solid performances out of seniors Kathleen Roche, with 11 points, seven rebounds and Kara Bonenberger, with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Dartmouth (10-8, 1-3 Ivy) was led by 14 points from sophomore stud Fanni Szabo, the Ivy League’s leading scorer. But her co-star, junior Lakin Roland, struggled mightily and left the game briefly after an injury. The two teams were close early on, but a pair of 12-2 runs by Penn helped ensure its first Ivy win of the year.

The Crimson (8-10, 1-3 Ivy) gave Penn a much closer game. The hosts jumped out to a 7-0 advantage, and after the Quakers fought to close the gap and quickly opened up a 26-16 lead, Harvard caught fire and struck once more, taking a 33-30 edge into the locker room for halftime.

The second half started out as a low-scoring back-and-forth battle, with neither team able to pull away. But with the game tied at 43 and 10 minutes left on the clock, Penn hit its stride, devastating Harvard from beyond the arc and from the charity stripe.

Meanwhile, the Red and Blue continued to shine on defense, and with just 1:41 left in the game, the Quakers had a 61-47 lead and appeared set to coast to the finish line.

Harvard refused to quit, however. A stunning barrage of Crimson threes, free throws and points off of turnovers made the Ancient Eight’s reigning champs sweat it out until the final whistle. The Crimson scored a mind-boggling 22 points in the game’s final 1:41, taking some air out of what was otherwise a dominating performance by Penn’s defense.

“Harvard gave us a bit of a scare there at the end,” guard Roche, who played all 40 minutes, said. “They’re really good at that. They have a ton of offensive firepower.”

Penn was ultimately able to hold on, thanks to excellent free-throw shooting down the stretch. Freshman guard Anna Ross was a perfect 9-for-9 from the line and played a very strong game overall, posting 19 points, six rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.

“I’m so excited for her, and I’m so proud of her,” coach Mike McLaughlin raved after the game.

“For a freshman to play this position and continue to show unbelievable progress ... it’s a credit to her. She’s worked so hard on her conditioning, on her strength ... this was her best performance yet. She worked her tail off, and she got rewarded.”

Stipanovich went scoreless in the second game and spent nearly half the game on the bench after getting in foul trouble while dealing with Harvard forward Temi Fagbenle. McLaughlin, however, wasn’t too concerned with the sophomore’s quiet night.

“It just wasn’t Sydney’s night on the offensive end ... but to be able to score the way we did without her having her best night, it’s a real credit to the growth we’ve shown as a team. Michelle Nwokedi really picked her up tonight.”

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Quakers have two wins to show for their road trip this weekend, and theywill return to the Palestra to host Cornell and Columbia next weekend.

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