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Now-senior guard Sydnei Caldwell looks to pass the ball to one of her teammates during last season's matchup against Brown at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Jan. 2, 2022. Credit: Kylie Cooper

New year, same Quakers.

In the team's first action of 2023, Penn women’s basketball picked up exactly where it left off in 2022, extending its win streak to seven games with a 74-53 victory over Brown. The victory, in the Quakers' first Ivy League matchup of the season, marked the beginning of Penn's quest for its first conference title since 2017, and the team showed promising signs for the remainder of the season.

It was an impressive wire-to-wire effort for Penn (8-5, 1-0 Ivy), which ripped off a 19-0 run in the first quarter and never looked back. Senior guard Mandy McGurk led the way in the drubbing, finishing with a career-high 28 points on 12 of 21 shooting. But it was not their offensive firepower that was most integral to the Quaker — it was their suffocating defense.

Coach Mike McLaughlin has earned a reputation throughout the Ivy League for his full-court defensive pressure, and that tactic paid dividends for Penn on Monday. The Quakers forced a whopping 22 turnovers on Monday, with McGurk leading the way with a season-high five steals. On every Bears possession, Penn was the true aggressor, hunting the ball and flying into passing lanes. That potency overwhelmed Brown (7-6, 0-1), stifling its offense and holding the Bears to their fourth-lowest point total of the season.

Offensively, junior forward Jordan Obi was one of the major factors behind Penn’s success in the half-court. Brown’s zone defense left a soft spot in the mid-range area, where Obi repeatedly punished them on her way to 12 points and seven assists. She found a wealth of success both as a scorer and playmaker, draining jumpers and dishing off to junior forward Floor Toonders on the block. 

There was not a single aspect of the game that the Quakers did not thoroughly dominate. They outshot the Bears from the three point line 37% to 14%. They outrebounded the Bears 44 to 30. And in the end, they outscored the Bears by a margin that left no doubt as to who the better team was on the storied Palestra hardwood. 

Next up, Penn sets its sights on another Ivy League clash, this time a home tilt with Cornell (8-6, 1-0) at 6:00 pm on Friday. Every conference matchup is critical for the Quakers as they eye an Ivy League title and the chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament. And though that path still has much ground yet to cover, on Monday, Penn took a decisive first step toward its ultimate goal.