After the postponement of their last two Ivy League games, Penn women’s basketball welcomed back the return to basketball with a win against Dartmouth, racing past the Big Green, 55-31.
The Quakers (7-7, 2-0 Ivy) headed into the game slotted third in Ivy League standings. Dartmouth came in with a disappointing record and did not improve it, falling to 1-13 (0-2 Ivy). In its previous matchups against the Big Green, Penn has an unbroken win streak of 12-0, which now sits at 13-0.
For the first couple minutes of the game, scoring was slow for the Quakers. Initially, Penn was down 7-2, but after some time, the team found its scoring rhythm. Penn held the Big Green scoreless for seven straight minutes and left the first quarter with a 20-9 lead. Penn’s method of scoring early and taking threes in transition worked in its favor. It's a strategy that coach Mike McLaughlin plans to continue moving forward.
“The key to having offensive success is that you can't be caught in half court all the time,” McLaughlin said. “[Shooting early] allows us to play more freely, just like today. When we get in transition we are more successful.”
The second quarter was much rustier for both teams. Dartmouth started stronger than in the first, outscoring Penn 4-0 in the first four minutes of play. It wasn't until halfway into the quarter that junior guard Sydnei Caldwell got Penn’s first point. Unfortunately for the Quakers, they shot 1-12 in the first seven minutes and could not mount an offensive attack. The team countered their lack of scoring with a lockdown quarter of defense that prevented Dartmouth from hitting corner shots. This defensive effort was a positive takeaway for the Quakers.
“Defense was playing off one another and had each others’ backs,” Caldwell said. “Defense created the offense and allowed them to gain momentum on the floor.”
Dartmouth was able to make some really tight passes but was only able to make seven shots, closing the quarter with 16 to Penn’s 28. Throughout the first half, Penn forced Dartmouth to commit a lot of turnovers, but the Big Green's work on the glass kept them within striking distance. Still, Penn’s zoning was very sneaky and disciplined, creating a guise that Dartmouth was open when they weren’t. Entering the half, junior guard Kayla Padilla led the Quakers with 10 points.
After the break, sophomore Jordan Obi, who was quiet in the first half, opened up the second half with four points. Dartmouth went scoreless for the first three minutes, despite having several offensive rebounds. Penn didn’t pressure as much, but they weren’t making as many shots to mitigate this. However, they were able to maintain their lead to close the quarter 38-25.
At the start of the 4th quarter, the Quakers scored the first six points. Later in the quarter, a reverse layup off the glass by Caldwell brought up the lead to 20 points. Obi had a nice finish around the hoop with a smooth layup, bringing her total to 12 and Penn’s score to 50. Penn finished the game victorious, with Padilla, Obi, and Caldwell being the leading scorers of the team, with 13, 12, and nine points, respectively.
McLaughlin expressed his pride with the team on its win, especially considering what they had to go through to make it to the game.
“[My team] showed a lot of resilience and preparedness, considering it was a seven-hour drive from Philadelphia to Hanover,” McLaughlin said. “The win today shows them that their training and resilience paid off in the end.”
Going into next week’s game against Princeton (11-4, 3-0 Ivy), Caldwell noted the importance of the team staying locked in and having each other’s back at each position.
“I want to focus on the game plans and Coach gives amazing game plans,” Caldwell said. “When we execute and lock in, we have a lot of success. [It’s important that] we give every play and possession our all and we just have to be ready when our number is called.”