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Penn women's basketball defeated Cornell on Feb. 14. Credit: Jon Wong

With hopes to regain a contending position for Ivy Madness, the pressure was on Penn women's basketball as it played Cornell after suffering a crushing defeat against Brown that put the team in fifth place in the Ivy League.

Penn ultimately succeeded in preserving its 13-game winning streak against Cornell, overcoming a rough start to win 61-54.

The game kicked off with senior forward Jordan Obi drawing a foul as she barraged her way through the paint. Shortly after, she secured a 2-0 lead for Penn (13-11, 5-6 Ivy) with a quick layup.

“[Obi] came out ready to play,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “She was really focused today and really was the best player on the floor for 40 minutes.”

The momentum persisted as the Quakers continued to score throughout the quarter. Junior guard Stina Almqvist made the first three-point shot for Penn, giving the team a 5-4 lead. 

“It’s always nice to have a good start to the game,” Almqvist said. “We had a lot of good plays in the beginning.”

The Quakers, however, weren’t the only team building momentum. Cornell guard Azareya Kilgoe took advantage of a fast break opportunity, shortening Penn’s lead from three points to one point. Penn closed the first quarter edging ahead of Cornell (7-16, 1-10) at 13-12 after freshman guard Ese Ogbevire banked in two successful free throws.

The Quakers were able to maintain the lead for most of the second quarter but this didn't come without its struggles. Starting off, Cornell guard/forward Rachel Kaus ignited momentum for her team with a three-point shot, pushing Cornell in the lead. However, Penn immediately returned the favor with a three-pointer from senior guard Michaela Stanfield, propelling the team back into the lead. The second quarter ended with Penn dominating the scoreboard with a score of 26-20. 

The third quarter was rigged with fast-paced sloppiness, with turnovers from both Cornell and Penn tallying 23 total. With Almqvist’s rebounding partnered with a foul drawn by Obi, the Quakers maintained their lead. However, Cornell then capitalized on two free throws and a fast break, narrowing the score to 31-29, followed by layups and jump shots that propelled Cornell back into its first lead since the opening minutes of the quarter. Penn responded with Obi halting Cornell’s 16-0 run with a layup, followed by a finish from Almqvist that concluded the third quarter’s score to 35-39 for Cornell.

“It was not a really good quarter. We didn’t run offense as smoothly as we did in the second quarter,” McLaughlin said. “To their credit, they made some adjustments and it took us a little bit longer to adjust back to them.”

Penn started breaking through the ice with a strong offensive play from Obi to start off the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 37-39. But Cornell countered just as strong, further extending its lead. With four minutes left in the game, Ogbevire, Obi, and freshman guard Mataya Gayle orchestrated a formidable offense, tying the score 49-49. With an assist from Gayle and a jump shot from Obi, the Quakers were back with the lead for the first time since the middle of the third quarter. They continued breezing through the rest of the quarter, coming out on top with a final score of 61-54. 

“All this week, we’ve prepared [for] situations where we’re down a couple points … [think about] how we should be staying together as a group and taking every possession at a time,” Almqvist said. “All the work we did this week really paid off … that’s why we got to turn the game around.”

After a defeat that dropped them down to fifth place in the Ivy League, this win brings the Quakers back to fourth place — tied with Brown, putting them in a good position to secure a spot in Ivy Madness.

The Quakers will be playing against Dartmouth on Friday at 5 p.m. in the Palestra.