COLLEGE PARK, MD. 3/19/2016 – The University of Pennsylvania Quakers played in their second NCAA Tournament in the last two years. The 10th seeded Quakers played the 7 seed Washington Huskies eye to eye, but fell victim to a late run and were defeated 65 – 53 in College Park, Maryland. Washington will play the Maryland Terrapins, the #2 seed, on Monday. The Penn season ends with a 24 – 5 record.
“We had a great run and came here really prepared,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “We had segments of the game where we wanted it. There were five possessions at a critical time without scoring. There were a couple of run-outs that created the gap for us that we could not recover from.”
The Quakers led at halftime 25 – 24. The third quarter ended with the Huskies ahead 42 – 40. In the final stanza Penn had trouble scoring in the fist five minutes of the quarter. Washington held a 46 – 40 lead behind four straight points by leading scorer Kelsey Plum. Kasey Chambers hit a three-pointer cutting the gap to 46 – 43 at the 7:30 mark. Penn was right there in a game that had 6 ties and 11 lead changes.
The Red and Blue could not make it 12 lead changes as the Huskies went on a 10 – 2 run on three-pointers and layups to take a 54 – 43 lead at the 5:38 mark. Penn cut the gap to 56 – 50 with just under 4 minutes to play, but would get no closer.
“The first half we had solid defense,” said Penn Center Sydney Stipanovich. “We kept it up most of the game. They hit some big shots that affected us. Plum had some fast breaks that hurt us. Overall, it was a solid effort.”
Turnovers were costly for the Quakers as they had 17 which gave the Huskies 15 – 3 advantage in points off the miscues, especially those early in the fourth quarter.
“The game changed after that,” said McLaughlin. “They had three or four run-outs, but it was the possessions we couldn’t get back.”
Plum scored a game-high 24 points for Washington and handed out 7 assists. Talia Walton added 18 points while Alexus Atchley scored 11. The Huskies shot 25 of 66 (37.9%), but were limited from beyond the arc making 7 of 25.
Stipanovich headed the Red and Blue with 16 points and 13 rebounds recording the 28th double-double of her career. Stipanovich returns for one more season. Anna Ross added 13 and was credited with 5 assists. Michelle Nwokedi scored 10 points and had 7 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. The Quakers had 12 points in the paint as the Huskies forced them to set up the offense a little further away from the basket as normal.
A stellar season comes to an end for the Ivy League Champions. They will have all of their key players back next season with a potential to return to this tournament. While there is disappointment now, tomorrow looks brighter.
“We have a bright future,” said Stipanovich. “We haven’t looked back yet, but now that the season is over we can look at how much we accomplished. We definitely have a bright future for next year.”
“We will come back stronger next year,” Nwokedi said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian