Penn women’s basketball will be playing postseason basketball this weekend, but it won't be in the NCAA Tournament.
The Quakers will be taking on American in the opening round of the WNIT at the Palestra. Penn (23-6) hasn’t faced the Eagles (22-10) since 2006, and the Quakers are 2-5 all-time against them. Both teams fell short of the NCAA Tournament in their respective conference championship games but will look to still have some postseason success. Here are three keys for Penn if it wants to move onto the next round.
Playing all 40 minutes
In their loss to Princeton in the Ivy League Championship, the Quakers’ offensive was non-existent in the final 10 minutes. Penn entered the fourth quarter with a three point lead but went on to score only seven points in the final period. In fact, the Red and Blue did not make a basket in the final 6:28 of the game.
This season, the Quakers have shown that they can have offensive explosions and go on scoring stretches in a game. If they want to beat the Eagles, they need to have more than just periods of offensive dominance; they have to be offensively dominant for the entirety of the game.
Even if Penn does have a good offensive night, its defense also needs to show up for all four quarters. In their loss to the Tigers, the Red and Blue allowed 21 points in the final 10 minutes. American senior forward Cecily Carl averages almost 16 points per game and will likely look to dominate in the fourth quarter. Carl is also a threat from behind the arc, shooting 39.5 percent from three. The Quakers can’t just plan to outshoot the Eagles for all four quarters; they also need to be aggressive on defense.
Getting to the free throw line and making foul shots
Penn and American have had very similar seasons so far, both winning a share of their individual regular season championships. Both sides also lost in their respective conference championships. They have similar field-goal and three-point percentages, meaning this game may be close throughout. If the Quakers want to get by American, they need to shoot a high percentage from the free throw line. The Eagles have shot 73.9 percent from the line, with 13.2 made per game compared to the Quakers’ 65.7 percent and 9.7 per game.
The Red and Blue had a decent night at the line against Princeton, shooting 71.4 percent on 14 attempts. However, Princeton had a better night at the line with a 72.2 percent mark on 18 attempts. An important part of the Quakers’ free throw production needs to come from sophomore center Eleah Parker. Parker is only shooting 58.6 percent from the line and didn’t even get to the line against Princeton. Parker is aggressive in the paint and has the ability to draw a lot a fouls, and she currently has the most attempts on the team. However, she needs to be able shoot a good percentage from the line.
Some of Penn’s best offensive games have come from great performances from beyond the arc. This is due in large part to junior guard Phoebe Sterba’s 35.4 percentage from three. Sterba has shown that she can have dominant games from that range, and if she is able to have a good night from deep, that will free up space for her teammates. With that being said, Sterba cannot be the only one being productive from three. Penn will also benefit if senior guard Ashley Russell contributes at least a couple of threes. On the other end, with American’s Carl being a threat from deep, Penn's ability to limit her output will also be key.
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