NEW YORK — It wasn't smooth sailing, but when it mattered most, the Red and Blue got the job done.
In a game of runs, Penn women’s basketball held on late to beat Columbia, 72-60. The Quakers (13-3, 3-0 Ivy) remain the only undefeated team in the Ivy League.
In the first quarter, the Quakers jumped out to an early lead behind some hot three-point shooting and stayed there, thanks to senior guard Ashley Russell’s all-around game. The captain finished with 16 points and seven assists.
The 19-7 lead after the first period quickly evaporated. A 9-0 Columbia run brought the Lions (5-12, 1-3) within four — they would ultimately score 21 in the quarter after only managing seven in the first.
Columbia’s hot shooting was paired with a Penn cold streak from beyond the arc — the Quakers went 1-of-13 for a stretch spanning the first two quarters — letting Columbia back into the game. Penn managed to hold onto a 31-28 lead at the half.
“It was a really good game,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “I just loved the way we responded; we had a long trip last night — we were running on fumes a little bit at the end.”
“Saturday to me is all about heart and guts. Who is ready to come and play?” Columbia coach Megan Griffith said.
Penn, with Russell leading by example, had more heart and guts in the end than a young Columbia team. Russell’s experience with the Ivy weekend helped the Quakers to steady the game and dictate the tempo they wanted.
“Every year, I’ve become more accustomed to playing back-to-back nights, and it’s just getting the freshmen and sophomores to come along with it. It’s really more mental than it is physical toughness,” Russell said.
The third quarter was more of the same. Both teams started hot, with the Quakers holding a slight edge. However, when Penn's shooters cooled off, the Lions went on a run to even the score.
After trading buckets for most of the fourth quarter, the Red and Blue were able to hold on late, thanks to strong free throw shooting, in particular from sophomore guard Michae Jones. Penn ended the game on a 12-2 run that sealed the win.
While the Lions shot far fewer threes, they converted at a much higher rate than the Quakers, which kept them in the game. Columbia shot 43.5 percent while the Quakers only managed a 27.3 percent conversion rate. Meanwhile, sophomore center Eleah Parker was held to a relatively quiet 13 points.
“The way [the Lions] defended Eleah, they were really jamming her down. We’re not a team that really wants to be shooting a lot of threes, but that’s what the game gave us. We had a tough weekend shooting the three,” McLaughlin said.
“It’s super exciting when you find a way to win in the Ivy League on Saturday."
“When you can get a win like this on the road, at a place like Columbia, where the fans are really loud, it’s really big," Russell said.
Penn finished the weekend alone at the top of the Ancient Eight standings as the only undefeated team remaining. All three of the Quakers' wins have come on the road. Next weekend, they'll get a welcome respite from the travel as they host Brown and Yale.
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