A win is a win. Still, the Quakers' victory against Brown doesn’t make me optimistic about how March will pan out for Penn women's basketball.
The Red and Blue came into Saturday’s contest in a three-way tie for second place in the Ivy League. They ended the night tied with only one team, Columbia. The team's win over Brown officially clinched the Quakers’ trip to Ivy League Tournament, most likely as the second or third seed depending on the results of next week's games.
Yes, they can get to the Ivy Tournament, but then what?
Penn's last three games have not given me much confidence that this team will be able to hang in there with the Ivy's best — Princeton. For starters, the team's Saturday night victory over Brown was hardly lopsided. The Bears were in the game for most of the night, with the Red and Blue only holding a five-point lead at halftime. For the first three quarters, Brown looked like it could’ve won this game.
This is the same Brown team that only scored 39 points last Friday against Princeton. The same Brown team that is last in the league in many offensive and defensive categories, including scoring defense, three-point percentage, and rebounding. The same Brown team that has only two Ivy wins.
Penn was supposed to beat Brown easily, and yet the Bears hung around in this game for way too long.
Going back to Friday night, the Quakers’ performance against Yale was their most disappointing of the season. It was the first time all season that no player scored in double digits, something that simply cannot happen for a team with championship aspirations. Junior center Eleah Parker and freshman guard Kayla Padilla combined for a measly seven points.
Penn’s success revolves around both of them playing at their full potential. Both Padilla and Parker having unproductive nights is a recipe for disaster for the Quakers, especially with no one else stepping up for Penn.
I can understand the Red and Blue's loss to Princeton — the Tigers have blown past every team on their schedule. But at the end of the day, if the Quakers want to hang an Ivy Championship Tournament banner, they’re going to need to go through Princeton. As much as I want to think this team will shock everybody and upset the Tigers, it’s hard to believe they’ll be able to do so with their recent play.
If all this wasn’t enough to fuel my pessimism for the Quakers’ near future, junior forward Tori Crawford could be done for the rest of the season with a lower leg injury. After missing a layup early in the third quarter on Friday, Crawford’s landed hard on a defender’s foot, and she had to be helped off the court.
To say this is a big loss is an understatement. Crawford has started the past 10 games for the Quakers and has averaged 7.2 points this season, her highest average in her career. When Crawford was hurt at the beginning of the season, sophomore Kennedy Suttle started at forward. This time, coach Mike McLaughlin took a more unconventional approach, starting senior center Emily Anderson instead. In the starting lineup, Anderson didn’t score, but she did pick up a career high eight rebounds.
In the coming week, McLaughlin has a lot of questions for his team. Should he put Suttle back in the starting lineup? Can he afford to keep Anderson in the starting lineup and start without a true forward? How can this team be offensively consistent in the final stretch of their season?
These are a lot of questions, and there are only two games left for the Quakers to answer them before the tournament.
If Penn wants to change my mind about their tournament chances, they are going to need to play much better than they’ve played in the past three games.
TYIRA BUNCHE is a College junior from New York and a Senior Sports Associate for The Daily Pennsylvanian. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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