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Senior captain Ashley Russell will look to lead Penn women's basketball to its third Big 5 win of the season against Temple on Wednesday.

Credit: William Snow

On Wednesday at the Palestra, the Red and Blue will face the Cherry and White. 

Penn women’s basketball is set to face Temple, its last Big 5 foe of the season, in what will cap off an exciting season for Big 5 basketball.

The Quakers (9-3, 2-1 Big 5) are fresh off their first home loss of the season to rival Villanova, the team that upended the Red and Blue’s hopes for a second consecutive Big 5 title. However, this matchup against the Owls (4-13, 2-1) still has significant implications. A win on Wednesday at the Palestra would lead to the Red and Blue’s best start through 13 games since going 11-2 during the Ivy League title 2015-16 season. In addition, a win would keep Penn firmly in control of the best overall win percentage across the League.

Temple is coming into the game having lost five of the team’s last six matchups while Penn has won five of its last six games, despite the loss to Villanova last week. The Quakers might be favored on paper, but both the Red and Blue and the Owls hold a 2-1 record in Big 5 play, further showing how Big 5 basketball brings along with it a different edge to the players and teams involved.

The Red and Blue have had a defensively-oriented mindset throughout this season, as they have only allowed opponents to score an average of 50.7 points per game and shoot at a 31.8 percent clip, both best in the Ivy League. This is due to not only a dominant frontcourt of senior forward Princess Aghayere and sophomore center Eleah Parker racking up the majority of the conference-leading 5.42 blocks per game, but also a dominant presence on the glass. 

The Quakers lead the Ivy League in defensive rebounds per game at 30.3, making second-chance opportunities hard to come by and forcing opponents to make the most of each and every possession. Senior Ashley Russell has been an underrated force on the glass so far this season, averaging 7.1 rebounds despite a disadvantage in size and position as a guard.

The Owls have also relied on glass dominance this season, as each of their wins have featured impressive rebounding numbers in the stat line. Sophomore forward Mia Davis and junior forward Shantay Taylor will look to have big games, as the two players account for more than a third of Temple’s total boards. In losses, Temple has struggled behind the arc and when handling the ball. The Owls average only 27.5 percent from deep on the season while the Quakers have had slightly more success behind the arc, shooting at a 31.8 percent clip. Turnovers have also plagued Temple this year, as the Owls have averaged nearly 17 per game, leading to a loss of critical possessions throughout matchups.

For both Penn and Temple, the glass and paint are key. Whichever team dominates the glass and paint not only controls second-chance points but also dictates tempo on both ends of the floor and in transition. Against an efficient Penn defense, the Owls will need to handle the ball well in order to have a chance to match the Quakers throughout the game, especially down the stretch.

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