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Sophomore point guard Saniah Caldwell drives against Brown's defense on Feb. 2.

Credit: Chenyao Liu

With Ivy Madness fast approaching, Penn women’s basketball was feeling the pressure. Coming into the game against Brown, both teams were tied for fourth place in the Ivy League. The Quakers were fresh off a win against Yale the night before, while Brown was recovering from a tough 12-point loss against Princeton and was hungry for a win. The pressure was ultimately too much for the Red and Blue, as Penn left Providence, R.I. with a 61-59 loss. 

Penn (12-11, 4-6 Ivy) came out strong in the first quarter with a fast break opportunity by senior forward Jordan Obi in the game’s early minutes. The buzz in Brown’s (14-9, 5-5) Pizzitola Sports Center seemed to set the pace going forward, with players on both teams diving for loose balls and hustling to make plays. 

The energy of the game might have been too overwhelming to handle initially, though, as Penn’s two turnovers resulted in Brown going on a 7-0 run near the end of the first quarter. Junior guard Stina Almqvist was a force to be reckoned with in the paint, securing multiple offensive and defensive rebounds to afford Penn a few extra possessions. Almqvist did what she does best: creating space and drawing contact while attacking the rim, and she added a bucket and two free throws to keep the momentum going for the Red and Blue. Obi also proved to be an offensive threat, finishing off the first quarter with a three at the top of the key. 

The Quakers kept their offensive and defensive energy, with Obi and Almqvist grabbing rebounds on both ends of the floor and junior guard Lizzy Groetsch sneaking in a block. Even with a lot of effort from both teams, shots weren’t falling, and the game went into halftime without much advancement. 

Both the Quakers and the Bears struggled to get any offensive momentum during the second quarter, finishing the half with only 13 total points scored across the board for both teams in the second period – with Penn scoring seven. The stalemate continued into the third quarter, with freshman guard Mataya Gayle committing two turnovers that led to points in transition for Brown. Brown’s fast-paced transition game kept them close and helped them gain their first lead since the first quarter, resulting in a much-needed timeout from the Quakers. 

Groetsch continued the intensity on the defensive end of the floor, getting a tip from Brown sophomore Grace Arnolie and taking the fight for victory to the floor. The tussle seen in the last part of the third quarter was only a small fraction of the scrappiness of the entire game, and despite Groetsch’s best efforts, Brown finished the quarter ahead of Penn by one point. 

Things started to heat up, however, in the fourth quarter. Penn pressured Brown’s offense in the paint, and their defensive prowess was only further cemented by Obi denying a Brown offensive layup with a clean block. Gayle, who had a quiet first half, exploded in the fourth quarter, making clutch back-to-back mid-range jumpers and a three-pointer to give Penn the lead. Gayle’s points helped the Quakers regain momentum, increasing the lead to six, but Brown bounced back, sinking four free throws and a layup in the minutes that followed. 

With 55 seconds left, the game was tied at 57 apiece. Almqvist, who had been a strong scorer throughout the game, had an open look at the three-point line, but fell short, and the ball was recovered by Brown senior guard Kyla Jones, who then made a bucket to inch Brown ahead two points with 16.7 seconds left in the game. Gayle responded with a floater with only 6.7 seconds in regulation, and the game was tied yet again at 59-59. 

Jones, known for her stellar finishing abilities in the post, managed to finesse the ball in with 1.5 seconds left on the clock, putting the Bears ahead by two points. Out of timeouts, the Red and Blue could only quickly attempt a shot that would send the game into overtime. Starting from the other end of the court, Gayle ran just a few steps before she heaved the ball as the buzzer went off. The ball bounced several times at the rim before bouncing out, sealing the Red and Blue’s loss as the Bears celebrated on court.

There was no doubt that the game in Providence was particularly intense, with the largest lead of the game being in the single digits. The tough loss knocked the Quakers down to fifth place, just shy of a seat for Ivy Madness. Although the season is far from over, the winning momentum Penn had going into the game is gone. 

The Red and Blue will gear up again against Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. next Saturday at 2 p.m.