In the first game of the men and women's basketball doubleheader against Yale, Penn women's basketball held on to defeat Yale, 65-56, closing out the game in the last few minutes at a nearly empty Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Conn.
While the Quakers (21-5, 11-2 Ivy) dominated the first quarter and led 18-8 after 10 minutes, the Bulldogs (16-12, 6-7 Ivy) outscored Penn in the second and third periods before the Red and Blue pulled away late in the fourth. Here are three takeaways from Friday night's game.
Penn's defense is key to its success going forward
Throughout this season, the Quakers have been dominant on the defensive end. Friday night was no exception. Penn held Yale to just 31.7 percent shooting from the field, epitomizing a season that has been built on limiting good looks for opponents. The Red and Blue are 9-1 in games where they hold their opponents to under 50 points; their lone loss of this sort was against Maine in November.
Just over a week after allowing 68 points to Princeton and 70 points to Harvard, Penn tightened up its defense against Yale thanks in large part to fantastic perimeter defense. The group held Yale to just 4-of-23 from beyond the arc and racked up six steals. Penn's biggest challenge come tournament time will be Princeton, but with a strong defense, the Quakers will have what it takes to slow down Princeton's potent offense.
Eleah Parker stepped up when it mattered
Eleah Parker's final stats were very impressive, but they still don't describe how important she was for the Quakers. The sophomore center tallied a career-high 29 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks while also limiting 6-foot-5 freshman forward Camilla Emsbo to 3-of-11 shooting.
Parker, who is second in Division I with 3.24 blocks per game, made some crucial shots in the fourth quarter after Yale took its first lead with 8:56 left in the game. She laid the ball in on back-to-back possessions and then drilled a foul shot to give the Red and Blue a 45-44 lead. Then, with 1:51 left in the game — just after a Bulldog three-pointer cut Penn's lead to just four — Parker followed up her missed jump shot with an offensive rebound, drawing a foul and sinking both free throws to extend the lead to six. The details of these plays aren't apparent in the box score, but they matter most in tight games.
The Quakers can stay composed in the face of adversity
Penn dominated this game from the opening whistle and led by as much as 13 in the third quarter. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs were determined, and junior guard Roxy Barahman scored nine straight points for Yale to tie the game at 40 apiece. Yale took a 44-40 lead early into the fourth quarter, firing up the home crowd and sending the Quakers scrambling to recover.
However, the Red and Blue kept their heads high and proceeded to promptly score 10 unanswered points. They've shown the ability to claw their way back into games this season — most notably at Harvard and Princeton — and Friday night's performance helped solidify their resilience as a team.