Penn's women's basketball was more than hungry for a win this weekend as the Quakers gobbled up the competition in its last game before Thanksgiving break.
Penn made sure that NJIT left the Palestra still searching for its first win by demolishing the Highlanders, 85-42. This is the fourth straight time the Red and Blue (3-1) have defeated NJIT (0-4) in nine all-time meetings.
The Quakers have relied on their ability to dominate the paint this season, and today was no different. The team out-rebounded NJIT 46-37, was plus-14 in the paint, and plus-seven on second-chance points.
Additionally, the three-point line was extra friendly to Penn on Saturday. After only shooting 24 percent from behind the arc coming into Saturday's contest, the Red and Blue went 12 of 24 from deep. Senior guard Ashley Russell was the story today, as number 25 went for 25 points, going a perfect 4 of 4 from three after starting the season 1 of 6 from deep.
“I kind of just let the shots come to me instead of trying to force them. I knew I had been off in the last few games, but I was just letting them come to me. I had wide open shots so I had to take them,” Russell said. “I wasn’t letting me missing shots in the last few games get to my head or anything.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Penn’s stout 2-3 zone did as expected, holding the Highlanders to only 20 points in the paint. Also, quick hands in the passing lanes led to 17 total forced turnovers and 21 points off those turnovers. However, even more impressive was the Red and Blue’s ability to contest three-pointers while staying with the zone throughout, allowing the Highlanders to only make 5 out of 29 attempts on the game.
“We do a lot of talking as coaches at them during the game,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We talked about them knowing who is coming on the baseline, what number that kid is and if they are defined as a shooter … We told them, the key is you guys have to grow up, we can help them along, and I thought I saw that tonight.”
To start, the Highlanders converted a quick three and a couple of layups in the paint to go up 7-4. However, the Quakers responded quickly. A quick layup by sophomore center Eleah Parker and a driving pull-up from Russell gave the Quakers their first lead of the game — a lead the Red and Blue wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the contest.
The Quakers turned this 4-0 run into a 17-2 run when junior guard Phoebe Sterba hit her second three of the quarter, and the team as a whole began to heat up from behind the arc.
For the rest of the game, Penn was very comfortable letting its opponent take threes, as the Highlanders went 2 for 13 from three in the first half against the Quakers' 2-3 zone.
At the end of the first half, the Quakers were up 51-19.
The domination continued in the second half, and the Red and Blue were able to see some production from their bench players.
“We had five freshmen in the end, and everyone was able to see the court,” McLaughlin said. “I told them, now we can evaluate you guys … I thought that was the best part. Last quarter, no stress.”
Penn's offense is two-dimensional, and with three-point shooters in the team’s arsenal, the offense has opened up the season hot and should continue to be one of the top three teams in the Ivy League going forward.