In its Ivy opener, Penn women's basketball fell to Princeton, 70-55. The Quakers (6-5, 0-1 Ivy) struggled offensively, while Princeton (11-3, 1-0), behind strong performances from junior Gabrielle Rush, sophomore Bella Alarie, and senior Leslie Robinson, proved too much for the Red and Blue to handle. Here are some takeaways from the game.
Penn needs to make its layups and open shots
Penn shot only 33 percent from the field, and a lot of that was due to easy misses. The Quakers missed far too many layups and put-backs which ultimately came back to bite them. Eleah Parker and Michelle Nwokedi were strong in the paint and did a good job getting to the basket, but too often they just couldn't finish. And when the Red and Blue were trying to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, they couldn't knock down open threes. Compounded with Princeton's stout defense, these missed opportunities proved too much for the Quakers to overcome.
Princeton's bench won them the game
Throughout the season, Penn's depth has been crucial, and coach Mike McLaughlin has gone to it often. But today, Princeton's bench was the deciding factor. The Tigers had 24 bench points to Penn's nine, and most of that was due to the play of junior Gabrielle Rush. Rush finished with 17 points, including five treys, on just nine shots, and her efficient shooting helped the Tigers pull away. McLaughlin also didn't go to his bench as much as usual, with only freshman Katie Kinum and junior Princess Aghayere logging more than 10 minutes. Those two were also Penn's only bench players to score points. Moving forward, the Quakers are going to need more from their reserves.
Princeton did an excellent job disrupting Penn's offense
Penn hurt its chances by failing to capitalize on many opportunities, but Princeton sealed the deal with an excellent defensive effort, both individually and as a team. Freshman Carlie Littlefield stuck to Anna Ross like glue as soon as she got the ball, and several times caused Ross's normally steady handles to falter.
"She handled who I think is one of the best guards in our league in Anna Ross, really handled her well, kept it in front, forced her to counter us, and just matched her physicality," Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said.
Once the Quakers started to get the ball inside, the Tigers swarmed, forcing turnovers and bad decisions from Penn. And reigning Ivy Rookie of the Year Bella Alarie absolutely dominated as a rim protector, racking up eight blocks and altering many more shots.
The Ivy League race will be heavily contested for the next few years
While it certainly wasn't easy, Penn's Ivy championship last season wasn't too close. The Quakers lost only one of sixteen Ivy games, and handled every team in the league quite well. But this year, that's just not going to be the case. Princeton is better than it was last year, and today showed the Tigers can handle the Quakers. The Tigers have a young core, perhaps the best player in the Ivy League in Bella Alarie, and are sure to give the Red and Blue fits for several years to come. Today just wasn't Penn's day, but the Quakers be back, and it'll be a tight race all the way to the Ivy championship.
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