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Sophomore guard Michelle Nwokedi led the way for Penn women's basketball with 24 points as the Quakers stormed past Columbia, 71-51, on Friday.

Credit: Ilana Wurman , Ilana Wurman, Ilana Wurman

The Quakers have many things to be thankful for, but rest isn’t one of them.

Less than 48 hours after making the seven-hour trip back from New Hampshire, Penn women’s basketball will host Colorado State on Tuesday, looking to make it four wins in a row on the heels of a season-opening loss to Duke.

The Red and Blue (3-1) took care of business in the Granite State on Sunday with a 67-60 win over the Wildcats. But the Rams (3-0) are heading into the Palestra with some momentum of their own.

Colorado State is holding opponents to a meager 45 points per game through its first three contests. For Penn, getting the win will likely mean crossing the 60-point threshold — the Quakers have won 35 straight regular-season games and are 61-9 under coach Mike McLaughlin in games in which they have eclipsed that total, but are 28-79 when they fail to do so.

Anna Ross, who scored nearly half of that magic number on her own against New Hampshire, will look to post another strong showing matched up with the Rams. The sophomore guard had a career-high 25 points on Sunday after scoring just 13 combined through the first three games.

“She does have the ability to score the ball, and [Sunday] we did ask her to step out and try to score the ball more,” McLaughlin said. “That’s what I’d like to see, I’d like to see her carry over what she’s done, look to be aggressive.

“She also played unbelievable defense,” he added.

The win didn’t come easily for the Quakers. Although Penn led by 11 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, it only had a 59-58 lead with 90 seconds remaining before managing to hold off a furious late push from the Wildcats.

McLaughlin would have rather taken a less stressful route to his 497th career win, but he believes the experience will help the team going forward.

“What we learned from that game is composure. It’s a 40-minute game, there’s gonna be ebbs and flows,” he said. “Keep your composure, trust what you’re doing and play it all the way till the end. I think we really learned that, and we were rewarded for being able to execute late. Hopefully next time we’re [in a spot like that], we can reach back and remember how we won that game.”

While the schedule hasn’t afforded the Quakers much of a respite recently, there is plenty of rest, relaxation and turkey on the horizon. After battling Colorado State, Penn will have 10 days off before its next contest, and the squad will take two more long breaks in December for finals and the holidays before heading to Hawaii to play a pair of games in the Aloha State.

“They get a nice little break, which is really good for them physically and mentally,” McLaughlin said. “So we asked them to give us everything they’ve got until [Tuesday] night after the game. They’ll have plenty of time to recoup their bodies after that."

The Rams are most certainly not a familiar foe. The two teams have met just twice before — most recently in 1994 — and never at the Palestra.

“We do have access to everyone’s games [on film]. But they’re in the same boat too, they don’t see us either,” McLaughlin said. “So there’s advantages for both teams and disadvantages for both teams. It’s exciting. It’s good to see a different team.

“We’ve seen four teams with four different styles so far, so I think we’ll be able to adapt pretty quickly to whatever we see that we may have not seen yet.”

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