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Credit: Zach Sheldon

For a while it was a little too close for comfort, but Penn women’s basketball eventually put together another commanding performance to head into a nearly two-week hiatus with a win on the road.

After a slow start that featured a slew of missed layups, the Quakers pulled away to defeat Iona, 66-43, in just the third all-time matchup between the two schools.

The Gaels (1-8) proved to be stubborn competitors and hung around for three quarters with a strong performance from behind the arc. They shot 5 of 7 from deep in the first half, but cooled down to shoot 7 of 15 for the game. 

“[Iona] made a bunch of threes in a row on us,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “To our players’ credit, they just responded really well.”

Despite Iona’s early outburst from distance, the Red and Blue’s full-court press made it difficult for the Gaels to set up their offense, and Penn (6-2) closed out the first quarter with an 18-11 lead. 

In the second quarter, Iona managed to cut Penn’s lead to just four points with a three from freshman guard Shyan Mwai, but the Quakers’ stingy two-three zone held firm to give the team a 39-27 lead at halftime. On the other side of the ball, the Red and Blue struggled, shooting a measly 6 of 22 from three.

Nevertheless, sophomore center Eleah Parker followed her 15-point outing against La Salle with a dominating double-double against the Gaels. Parker led three Penn players in double figures with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while senior forward Princess Aghayere added 13 points and nine boards.

“[Eleah] was dominant today,” McLaughlin said. “Offensively, she’s getting great position, she scored the ball in multiple ways around the rim, but she affected the game on the defensive end. When she was on the floor, [she made] a big difference.”

Throughout the game, the Quakers dominated inside, grabbing 43 rebounds to Iona’s 25 and outscoring the Gaels 36-18 in the paint.

After a poor third quarter in which both teams combined to score only 19 points, the Red and Blue broke out of the slump to score 17 points in the fourth. Penn held Iona to just seven points in the final frame to secure the victory.

Key to the Quakers’ overall success was their ability to get stops and score in transition. The Red and Blue scored 21 points off 18 turnovers from the Gaels while turning the ball over only nine times themselves. Additionally, Penn kept Iona away from the free throw line, and the Gaels missed each of their five attempts from the stripe. 

The Quakers now return home looking to take advantage of their extended break before a Dec. 21 visit to Drexel. The game will be the first meeting between the two schools since a 72-67 Penn win in 2015.

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