A win is always the best way to give your seniors the farewell they deserve.
It was a celebratory atmosphere in the Palestra on Saturday night, as the Quakers honored their senior players and managers in their final game in the Palestra with a 56-52 over Dartmouth. Additionally, the Red and Blue have already clinched a berth in the Ivy League tournament after beating Harvard 75-70 on Friday.
Dartmouth didn't make it easy for the Quakers, however, keeping the game close throughout.
"It was a grind," coach Mike McLaughlin said. "I thought we had moments where we were smoother, but it was definitely a grind, it was a typical Ivy League game."
Senior forward Princess Aghayere wasted no time taking over and scored nine of the Quakers (20-5, 10-2 Ivy) 14 first quarter points. The Quakers’ leading scorer, sophomore center Eleah Parker, struggled early offensively, missing her first five shots. After sinking a layup through contact for her first points, however, Parker got going and racked up eight points by halftime.
"It was tough in the beginning, trying to get my shots to fall, getting my layups to fall," Parker said.
The Red and Blue had a much easier time against the Big Green (12-13, 5-7) in their first meeting, where they enjoyed a 14-point lead at halftime. Dartmouth played much better defense this time around, only trailing 26-24 at the break. The visitors also got a big lift off the bench from freshman guard Katie Douglas, who hit three of her four first half three-point attempts.
The tandem of Aghayere and Parker continued to lead the Quakers in the second half, scoring all of the team’s third quarter points. Neither missed a shot from the field in the quarter, and their dominance helped the Quakers increase their lead to six entering the fourth.
"We're always working," Aghayere said. "We've been looking for a game where we both rose up and it just happened that today was the day."
Aghayere, also playing on her birthday, was the star of the game, leading all scorers with 22 points. Just as she’s done all season, Aghayere scored efficiently, only needing 13 shots and adding a few three pointers.
"Princess started us off really well, and the second chance points that she gave us late really helped us," McLaughlin said.
Unable to stop Parker and Aghayere, Dartmouth completely shut down the rest of Penn’s lineup. In the second half, the dynamic duo combined for 24 second half points while the rest of the Quakers only managed six points.
Penn’s two leading scorers on the season proved to be too much for the Big Green, however, and a crucial stop by the Quakers with only 20 seconds left in the game effectively sealed the victory.
The Quakers will hit the road for the final weekend of conference play at Yale and Brown next week, looking to continue their momentum into Ivy Madness.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.