On Friday, Penn women’s basketball struggled to find the basket. On Saturday, they seemed incapable of doing anything but.
And yet in both games they cruised to double-digit victories.
On the road against Brown and Yale, the Quakers continued their perfect run through Ivy play, taking down the Bears, 69-59, on Friday before trouncing the Bulldogs, 77-59.
Although the Red and Blue had their share of troubles scoring on Friday, it was the Bears’ offensive performance that was the bigger break from the norm. After ceding just 14 points to Brown (13-11, 1-9 Ivy) in the first half when the two teams first met, the Quakers (20-3, 9-0) found themselves up only 21-17 through the opening quarter.
“I thought that our aggressiveness was not effective overall in the first half,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We had four offensive rebounds. Sydney [Stipanovich] had all four, no one else got one. And Brown had two fouls, and we got to the foul line one time. So I don’t think we were aggressive at all.”
It was Stipanovich — who added 10 points for her 10th double-double of the season — and sophomore guard Lauren Whitlatch’s play inside that kept the Red and Blue ahead throughout the first half, combining for 17 boards in the first 20 minutes.
Offensive output in the half came from all corners of the Red and Blue squad, with sophomore Anna Ross’ eight points leading the way as seven players got on the board. And despite the aggressive play off the glass, the Quakers found their way to the charity stripe just a single time in the half.
“We were getting good shots throughout the first half,” Stipanovich said. “We just weren’t knocking them down like we usually do.”
Out of the break, Penn found its offense again, logging 23 third-quarter points to enter the fourth with a 52-41 lead.
For the final 10 minutes, both sides traded blows, with neither able to extend or cut much into the lead. Although with just under four to play, the Red and Blue maintained a 62-46 advantage,
Brown quickly brought it back to around 10, where it stayed for the rest of play.
It was sophomore Beth Brzozowski, who led scoring for the Red and Blue with 16 points, that brought her squad through the fourth quarter, finishing the night with nine of her points at the free throw line.
When the buzzer sounded, the fact that it wasn’t the cleanest game the Quakers have played all year didn’t matter. The end result was the same as it has been 18 other times already.
It was almost as if a different team donned the Red and Blue the next night in New Haven.
On the back of what would become a career-best 25 points from junior guard Kasey Chambers, Penn stormed out to an 8-0 lead, not yielding a point to Yale (11-18, 2-8) in the opening 2:37.
Briefly, Yale began to show signs of life, as three three-pointers from 5-foot-8 junior guard Lena Munzer helped the Elis cut the deficit to 15-11, but a 25-7 run for the Quakers brought it to 40-18 before Chambers and sophomore Lauren Whitlatch helped close out the half with a 54-26 lead.
“The players did a great job knocking down shots, really doing as good of a job hitting threes as we’ve done all year,” McLaughlin said. “Obviously Kasey Chambers had a huge first half making shots, and then Lauren Whitlatch was also a big performer tonight, so it was just a great team effort.”
After tying the program record for points in a single half, the Red and Blue kept pushing, scoring six straight points to reopen play. Until the game’s final moments, the Elis never brought the spread back within 20.
After four players reached double figures — with Michelle Nwokedi’s 10 points joining Chambers, Brzozowski (15 points) and Whitlatch (13) — Penn finally removed its starters with roughly three minutes remaining, cruising to the 18-point win and keeping the dreams of a perfect Ivy season alive.
“It’s fun, it’s why they play, they have a dream to get that [undefeated season] done and I don’t want them to back down on that,” McLaughlin concluded. “If we keep playing hard like we have, they can continue this journey that they’re on, and I want them to appreciate it.”Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.