Penn women's basketball hadn't lost a league game on its home floor since Jan. 11.
Jan. 11, 2014, that is.
But that changed on Friday night. Cornell came into the Palestra and beat the Quakers, 60-49, leading from the game's early moments all the way through to the final buzzer.
Penn (11-7, 2-2 Ivy) struggled once again on offense, and Cornell (13-6, 4-1 Ivy) took great care of the ball to keep the Quakers from making up for it defensively. Penn turned it over 14 times and was only able to force the visitors into five miscues.
"It just goes to show you how much they had control of this game," coach Mike McLaughlin said of Cornell's ball control. "We have to cause a little more havoc on defense. We gave up too many shots at the basket, there were too many breakdowns – mental breakdowns."
The Big Red got a big game out of sophomore forward Nicholle Aston, who finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocks. The Quakers also got a good performance from a young forward, as freshman Michelle Nwokedi had 11 points, 13 rebounds and three rejections off the bench.
"Michelle has been really growing as a player all year," senior captain Kathleen Roche said. "She's just so long, so athletic. She's a smart player. She's great to have off the bench as a sixth man."
But Cornell's young guns were just too good for Penn. Of the victor's 60 points, 54 came from sophomores. The Big Red weren't exactly deep, either: 58 of the 60 points came from starters.
Penn's star sophomore Sydney Stipanovich had only five points and turned it over six times. Freshman Beth Brzozowski couldn't buy a bucket, going 1-7 from beyond the arc. Even Anna Ross, coming off of the strongest game of her rookie campaign against Harvard, couldn't get anything going at the helm of the offense, as the Red and Blue found themselves settling for jumpers more often than not.
Cornell outplayed Penn for most of the first half and came out even hotter after the intermission, taking a 38-20 lead in the opening minutes of the second period. The Quakers got themselves back in the ballgame with a barrage of threes, cutting the gap to six on the strength of a 12-0 run.
Penn would get as close as four on an athletic drive to the hoop from Nwokedi, but the deficit proved to be too large to overcome, and the Big Red was able to put out Penn's fire and seal the victory.
"Outside of that quick stretch, we didn't get anything going ... Offensively, we were just pretty poor," McLaughlin said.
Lackluster offensive performances have been a theme for the Quakers, as they are now dead-last in the Ancient Eight in scoring. Penn will look to bounce back on Saturday night when they host Columbia.Comments powered by Disqus
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