Penn women’s basketball started a busy weekend with back-to-back Ivy League matchups at home against Dartmouth and Harvard.
The result of Friday night's game against the Big Green seemed clear from the early going. The energized Red and Blue have been on a hot streak, winning their five previous Ivy League matchups. Having taken a 33-point win over this Dartmouth team earlier in the season, the Quakers looked to continue their success at home.
Strong ball movement and smart shot-taking gave the Red and Blue (16-5, 6-2 Ivy) an early lead. This momentum continued through the game, with the Quakers ultimately taking their second win over the Big Green (8-14, 2-7) by a 67-31 score.
The first quarter started with limited success for both sides, as they both had trouble finding their rhythm. Keeping possession was also a problem, as both teams committed multiple turnovers within the opening five minutes. As the quarter progressed, both teams still had trouble finding confidence on offense, giving up the ball and passing poorly. However, the Red and Blue eventually found their beat, as strong ball movement and smart passing produced multiple open shots. Solid play combined with shooting woes for Dartmouth allowed Penn to jump to an eight-point lead to end the first quarter.
Going into the second quarter, the Red and Blue capitalized off of momentum. Extending their lead to 10 immediately, the Quakers' lockdown defense led to Big Green turnovers. Penn's length forced Dartmouth to constantly work against the clock and take highly contested, low-percentage shots. This strategy denied the Big Green points for the first 6:39 of the second quarter and forced them to shoot 7.1% from the field, going into the half up 30-14.
Senior guard Kendall Grasela’s smart passing and lockdown defense were instrumental for the Quakers' successes on both sides of the ball. This powerful defense again forced abysmal Dartmouth shooting and led Penn on an 8-2 run through the first six minutes of the third quarter. Although the Red and Blue were handily in control of the game, they allowed the Big Green no easy shots, constantly pressing the Big Green and extending their lead to 23, finishing the quarter up 49-26.
“Letting our defense fuel our offense on the other end worked well. I think I was really aggressive on the ball, and so were my teammates back in the half-court, and that really helped us," Grasela said. “We forced a lot of turnovers. We forced them to take difficult shots and they weren’t really going in, and we were just rebounding and going."
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Red and Blue continued to produce on offense. Although they held a 33-point lead in the middle of the fourth quarter, the home side was unrelenting on both sides of the ball. Their constant pushes to grab offensive rebounds and press defense allowed them to increase their lead, ending the game with another dominant win over the Big Green.
Overall, this game was an illustration of how strong the Red and Blue are on both sides of the ball. Junior center Eleah Parker continued her excellent play this season, ending the game with a double-double on 24 points and 13 rebounds.
“Executing our plays and getting inside, whether it was through a post entry or just attacking downhill, really helped our offense," Parker said. “I’m excited as we get closer and closer to playoffs. Everybody is fighting for those four spots; I’m just going out there to fight to win."
The Quakers hope to continue their success tomorrow at home versus Harvard. Although they lost their last matchup in Boston by a 58-51 score, Penn's recent play has been incredibly promising.
“We want to be very confident in our approach. We came out and struggled down there offensively and it really hurt us," Grasela said. “We played [Harvard] well, but they out-rebounded us a lot and we weren’t scoring down the other end. … I think we're going to come out and keep the defense up."
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.