The Red and Blue ended their home slate on a high note Saturday night, earning a well-deserved victory over Brown. This Senior Night victory comes following the last two difficult games that the team played, resulting in losses to Princeton and Yale.
For its last outing in the Palestra this season, Penn women’s basketball faced off against the Bears in an energetic game. There was yet another night of high turnout in support of the Quakers, whose fans saw their team clinch a spot in the Ivy League Tournament with a 74-60 win.
Brown’s McKenna Dale scored the first points of the night, and the Bears put up six unanswered points in just the first two minutes. However, this was not indicative of how the rest of the game would go. The Quakers quickly turned the tables and rallied to lead 19-15 heading into the second quarter.
The next 10 minutes saw the Bears ramp up their offensive strategies, which led to a brief lead over the Quakers at 26-25 after an 11-0 run from the visitors.
However, junior center Eleah Parker kept the Quakers going with quick offensive and defensive thinking, and the Quakers ended the half with a score of 37-32. Parker and senior guard Phoebe Sterba put up most of the points for the second quarter, with Sterba scoring nine out of Penn’s 18 second-quarter points on three buckets from beyond the arc.
The Red and Blue continued to maintain a steady lead over the Bears as they went toe to toe in the third quarter. Brown’s offensive-minded lineup gave Penn a workout, as Dale and senior Justine Gaziano continuously hit three-pointers, combining for 10 of Brown's 11 on the night.
But the pair's efforts to keep the Bears in it were not enough, as Parker continued to pick up defensive rebounds that she and her teammates turned into points on the other end.
With Penn up 50-45 entering the final quarter, the visitors would not go down without a fight. However, Penn continued to put up a good defensive battle and sophomore forward Kennedy Suttle showed up for Penn offensively. For the last seven minutes of the game, the Quakers maintained at least a 10-point lead over the Bears at all times.
Parker led Penn with 24 points and had 14 rebounds, her seventh double-double of the season. She attributes the team's success to their strong ball movement.
"Tonight our offense flowed, which is a big difference from last night," Parker said. "Putting more emphasis on swinging the ball on both sides and getting everyone involved really helped us and gave us a lot of energy as well."
There were also emotional motivators for tonight’s stellar performance by the Quakers, with Senior Night and the final home game of the season also on the players' minds.
“They responded well, and I was proud of them for that. They were emotionally juiced up; they wanted to play, they wanted to be honored," McLaughlin said. "One of their teammates that wanted to be out there tonight couldn’t play … that emotionally hit them a little bit too. They responded well.”
The aforementioned injured player, junior guard Tori Crawford, was taken off during Friday night’s game against Yale and was unable to play on Saturday. Her recovery status for Ivy Madness in two weeks is still unknown.
Senior guard Kendall Grasela, who was among the seniors honored for her time on the team along with Sterba, center Emily Anderson, and forward Liz Satter, said that the emotions of the night motivated her to play her best.
“You never know when it’s going to be your last time to play on this floor and that’s the motto we came into this game with," Grasela said. "We said we have 40 minutes left on this floor, and we have to give it our all and that’s how the emotion came through."
With fifth-place Harvard three games back, Saturday's win secures Penn a spot at this year's Ivy League Tournament. But before the Red and Blue embark for Lavietes Pavilion, they have two final regular season games: at Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. this Friday and then down in New York City for Columbia on Saturday.
After facing the New York Ivies, the Quakers will have one week to prep for Ivy Madness, where they will play with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line.
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