Sometimes everything just works.
That was the case for Penn women’s basketball on Sunday afternoon at the Palestra, as they dismantled Division III opponent Haverford, 81-46, in their final nonconference game of the season.
The Quakers opened the game not wanting to leave anything to chance, using a relentless full-court press to set up transition opportunities for sophomore center Eleah Parker and junior guard Phoebe Sterba. Parker was especially dominant, scoring eight points and pulling down seven rebounds including four on the offensive glass. Riding the strong play of their center, the Red and Blue (11-3) would end the first quarter leading 25-7.
“We pushed the ball in transition, running out to get easy layups really got us going,” Parker said.
The Fords (14-5) would not go down without a fight so soon. Haverford opened the second quarter on a nice run highlighted by two threes from senior guard Macy Goldbach that would cut the Quaker lead to just 13 points. Needing a spark, Penn once again turned to the frontcourt as Parker would rattle off a 8-0 scoring run of her own, while senior forward Princess Aghayere contributed six more points, putting the game away for good.
“[Parker] was getting deep positioning, obviously there was an advantage size wise, but her skill level is really high and she is always the focal point of what we do,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “She keeps getting better right in front of our eyes.”
“I was just trying to take advantage of the height difference, our dominance in the post across the board from all of our post players really helped us today,” Parker said.
The Quakers took control of almost every facet of the game, forcing 16 turnovers, out-rebounding Haverford 37 to 24, and shooting 50 percent from three-point range. Parker would finish the day leading the team with 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in just 21 minutes.
As a result of their lead, the Quakers were able to go deep into their bench to give playing time to some fresh faces, including freshmen Mia Lakstigala, Sereena Weledji, and Kennedy Suttle. Lakstigala was especially impressive; contributing eight points — including two three-pointers — to go along with three rebounds and two assists. McLaughlin recognized the importance of getting these players game time, especially when given the opportunity.
“We are going to need Mia to continue to grow, we are going to need her in League play to have success. Kennedy has been playing bits and pieces throughout the year as well and continues to get better," he said. “I’m really proud that they are getting where they need to be.”
Regardless of the score today, the Red and Blue are well aware that their biggest challenges lie ahead of them with Ivy League play getting into full swing soon.
“We just put a stamp to the end of our nonconference schedule; I really like where we are at,” McLaughlin said. “I don’t think a whole lot of people would have believed our success, with the schedule we had and the transition from the players last year to this year.”
“I feel really confident in our team,” Parker remarked. “We have the talent, we have the will and we will be ready.”
Only time will tell if the Red and Blue can keep the good times rolling as they open Ivy League play in earnest with an away back-to-back at Cornell and Columbia next weekend.