Tonight just wasn’t the Quakers’ night.
Penn women’s basketball’s Tuesday night matchup against Princeton was a highly anticipated one, with the two teams playing for the first place spot in the Ivy League. Princeton came out of the gates strong and never let Penn get too close, ultimately beating the Quakers 60-40.
The Red and Blue (15-6, 6-2 Ivy) looked sluggish in the first half, scoring just 20 points as a team and five in the second quarter. They had a greater sense of urgency coming out in the third quarter, cutting the lead down to seven at one point.
“I thought we did a really good job [in the third quarter],” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “It was the best flow we had…Once we were in the flow, I thought that we were getting better shots.”
However, every time Penn came within striking distance, the Tigers (17-4, 7-1) hit a big shot or came up with a big stop. And even in that span when the Red and Blue were playing well, they had several shots that nearly dropped but just couldn’t find the bottom of the net.
The end of the game was similar to the end of the second quarter, as the Quakers were only able to muster three points in the final 10 minutes, their lowest total in a quarter this season. In all, Penn shot just 25.8 percent from the field and 11.8 percent from beyond the arc, both of which marked new season lows.
“We just couldn’t get going, period,” McLaughlin said. “We struggled out of double-teams, we struggled to get any type of flow. We took a couple steps back on the offensive end, for sure.”
Much of the reason for Penn’s struggles was the play of Princeton’s star sophomore Bella Alarie, who dropped 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. While this is clearly a solid statline, she also she did a lot of things well that will not appear in the box score. In particular, Alarie’s presence in the paint forced Penn into many tough situations.
“She just affects the game in so many ways,” McLaughlin said. “Where she was effective was around the rim. We’ve been having success scoring around the rim, but tonight, we didn’t… She’s a heck of a player, and she was the best player on the floor tonight.”
One positive for the Quakers was the energized play of Anna Ross. The senior guard was all over the court, playing gritty basketball even when things weren’t going the team’s way. Ross totaled 14 points and three steals.
However, the Red and Blue could not match the impressive amount of ball movement that the that the Tigers exhibited on Tuesday at Jadwin Gymnasium in New Jersey. While Princeton ended with 15 assists, the Quakers dropped just five dimes in the game, and Ross failed to record an assist for the first time all season.
Much of this disparity can be attributed to the the impressive bench play of Princeton. Of the Tigers 60 points, half of them came from players off of the bench. In particular, freshman guard Abby Meyers, who played just four minutes when these two teams met earlier in the year, was a spark for her team, scoring 17 points in her 24 minutes on the court.
Penn’s usually dominant pair of senior forward Michelle Nwokedi and freshman center Eleah Parker were held to pedestrian offensive performances. Nwokedi scored 12 points on 5 for 18 shooting, while Parker totaled just four points, shooting 2 for 10 from the field.
The Quakers, now ranked second in the Ivy League, have a relatively quick turnaround, as they take a roadtrip to New York this weekend to take on Columbia and Cornell, where they look to get back in the win column.