This one was closer than it should have been.
Despite struggling to gain separation early in the contest, Penn women’s basketball extended its perfect run through the Ivy League, defeating Brown on the road, 69-59, on Friday.
The shots did not always fall for the Quakers (19-3, 8-0 Ivy). But strong performances on the boards for forwards Sydney Stipanovich and Michelle Nwokedi, who finished with 19 and nine rebounds apiece, kept Penn afloat when the shots wouldn’t fall.
On the whole, it was not quite the stifling defensive performance the Red and Blue have grown accustomed to. Last time around, the Quakers ceded only 14 first-half points to the Bears (13-10, 1-8). Friday night, however, Penn found themselves up only 21-17 through the opening frame.
"I thought that our aggressiveness was not effective overall in the first half," Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. "We had four offensive rebounds. Sydney 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.
As McLaughlin rested some of his starters early in the contest in favor of freshmen Princess Aghayere and Ashley Russell, scoring for both sides stagnated. The quiet second frame yielded 9-8 Bears advantage as the Quakers headed to the locker room up only 29-26.
"I was hoping that we could use the bench more in the first and second quarter," McLaughlin said. "And I think we did that. ... Obviously being aware of the importance of trying to win but also know that tomorrow is coming as well. And I thought we did a good job of that in the first half."
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.Comments powered by Disqus
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