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antonio-woods

Senior guard Antonio Woods and the rest of Penn men's basketball still have it all to play for as Ivy League play closes next weekend.

Credit: Chase Sutton

The Ivy sweep the Quakers were seeking came on Saturday, with Penn men's and women's basketball both scoring much-needed wins over Dartmouth.

Just two conference games remain on the schedule, and the men's victory kept their hopes of reaching the Ivy League tournament alive and strong, while the women remain deadlocked with Princeton atop the Ancient Eight standings after both sides picked up a pair of wins this weekend.

Here's what we took away from the games against the Big Green.

Watch out for the men when and if they get hot

Penn's win was fueled by a massive 29-5 run over a span of just under 13 minutes in in the second half. Over this period, the Red and Blue hit five three-pointers and held strong defensively, limiting the Big Green to two field goals.

With the game tied at 27 a few minutes following halftime and the home fans pressing their team forward, it looked to be either team's win for the taking. But Penn found the inspiration it needed and cracked the contest open, never allowing Dartmouth to come within 14 points of the lead in the final 10 minutes.

Saturday's win provided a stark difference from Friday's loss to Harvard, where the Quakers could only muster seven points in the game's final seven minutes, a drought that allowed the Crimson to pull away. It wasn't the only time this season where Penn has run out of gas towards the end of the game, so it just depends which version of the team we'll see in the Red and Blue's final two contests.

The women's talent runs deep

On any given night, you never know who will go off for the Red and Blue. On Friday night, it was sophomore guard Michae Jones, who exploded for a career-high 19 points to lift Penn over Harvard in overtime. Saturday night, the familiar pair of senior guard Princess Aghayere and sophomore center Eleah Parker combined for 41 of the Quakers' 56 points, including all of the team's third-quarter scoring.

Juniors Phoebe Sterba and Kendall Grasela have also had their moments in the spotlight, and despite leaving Friday's game with an ankle injury, senior guard Ashley Russell was back to lead the team against the Big Green and played for all 40 minutes. 

Junior center Emily Anderson and sophomore forward Tori Crawford have also seen increasing minutes this season and provide a valuable presence off the bench for the team when called upon.

It's complicated, but the men are still in it

After their fifth consecutive weekend split in Ivy play, the the Quakers sit at 5-7 in conference play, tied with Cornell for fifth and one game behind Brown in fourth. What makes this interesting is that the Red and Blue host the Bears next Saturday in what could be a de facto play in game for Ivy Madness. But that timeline is contingent on a few other results.

First and foremost, a Brown loss to Princeton on Friday night would help the Quakers out immensely. Penn would need to win out should the Bears leave New Jersey victorious, which means beating a League-leading Yale and then Brown itself.

Let's not forget the Big Red, who could play spoiler if they find themselves in a two-way tie with the Red and Blue. Since Cornell split its games with the Quakers this season, a Penn win over the Bears could see the next tiebreaker come into play — whoever has the best record against the conference champion. If Cornell wins out, it could hold the advantage there with two wins over Harvard, so putting it simply, Penn's best chance of reaching the Madness lies in winning its own games.

The women are fighting for the top seed

Since last Tuesday's home loss to Princeton, the Red and Blue have been tied with the Tigers on top of the Ivy League, now with identical 10-2 records and having locked up the top two spots in conference play. While both sides can tie as Ancient Eight champions, only one can claim the coveted No. 1 seed for the Ivy Tournament. 

Penn's final two games are on the road against Yale, currently fourth in the league and on the cusp of qualifying for the tournament, and League-worst Brown. Princeton plays this pair on alternating nights as the Quakers, so each will surely be keeping tabs on the other as regular-season League play comes to a close.

The prize for the top seed? Not having to play the No. 3 seed, likely Harvard, en route to the title game. The Crimson have already beaten the Quakers once this season and taken them to overtime a second time, so they're no easy out. Although another Penn-Princeton final looks as probable as ever, the Red and Blue should keep taking one game at a time.

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