Although it wasn’t as lopsided as Tuesday's loss, the Quakers did not make the Ivy League comeback that their fans wanted to see.
Penn women's basketball (18-7, 8-4 Ivy) was in high spirits for its final Friday night home game of the season, and so was the crowd. The stands of the Palestra were filled with parents from both Penn and Yale (17-8, 7-5), but despite the home-court advantage, the Quakers slipped to a 71-54 loss.
The first points of the night went to Yale junior guard Tori Andrew, as she splashed home a three-pointer. However, the Quakers were able to keep it close early.
Through a couple of foul shots and three pointers of their own, the Red and Blue were able to keep the deficit to just two points by the end of the first quarter at 12-10.
The second 10 minutes saw the Quakers begin to lose control and become overtaken by the Elis. With only five points in the first 7:56 of the quarter, Yale's lead swelled to nine. But Penn refused to go down without a fight, and worked hard offensively to close the gap, going into the half only down 29-23.
The third quarter was where things began to get out of hand for the home side, however. The Red and Blue had cut the lead to only eight before a blistering 17-6 run from the Elis effectively put the contest out of reach, up 49-29 late in the quarter. A pair of threes from senior guard Kendall Grasela and junior guard Katie Kinum gave the Quakers a lifeline, but it was too little, too late for a comeback attempt.
Another consecutive pair of threes from junior guard Michae Jones and Kinum in the fourth quarter offered some support, but it seemed every basket from Penn was answered on the other side, and the lead never dipped below 13 points over the final 10 minutes of play, culminating in a disappointing defeat to a team Penn had snuck past earlier in the season.
Summarizing tonight’s loss, coach Mike McLaughlin gave credit to the Bulldogs and recognized his own team's shortcomings on both sides of the ball.
“I give [coach Allison Guth] and Yale’s team the credit; they came in here on our court and they outplayed us, and they deserved to win,” he said. “Tonight, I think it was both ends of the floor. I don’t think we created anything off of defense, we got stuck in half court, and I don’t think we were very efficient offensively.”
None of the Quakers scored more than 10 points, with nine from Jones and senior guard Phoebe Sterba being the team high. Both teams were relatively even in turnovers and rebounds, but Penn simply had a rough night from the floor, going 21-of-72 overall (29.2%) compared to Yale 27-of-61 (44.3%).
The Red and Blue also fell behind in points off turnovers, scoring six to the Bulldogs' 20, which helped press their advantage home.
Looking forward to tomorrow and the final three games of the regular season, McLaughlin is hopeful that the Quakers will rise to the challenge and not let these past few results impact their play moving forward.
“What I was trying to take away was the response; let’s respond tomorrow," he said. “This one we have to let go very quickly. It’s all about the response, [and] hopefully this team will respond tomorrow.”
The Quakers will seek to break their skid when they face off against Brown (8-17, 2-10) on Saturday night in the Palestra for their last home game of the season.
As things stand right now, Penn is tied with Columbia and Yale for the second through fourth spots in the conference standings, all with a 7-4 record. Harvard could play spoiler at 5-6, but a win from any of the aforementioned tied teams would qualify them for Ivy Madness provided the Crimson lose.
Anything can still happen, and Penn is still in control of its own fate.