PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/25/2017 – After the University of Pennsylvania clinched a spot in the Ivy League Tournament, they knew there were more games to play and had unfinished business. And it was Senior Night. This team is experienced and that is a great teacher.
“They want to get better, there is growth to be had, and we haven’t hit our ceiling yet,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “We want to win this regular season outright, and do the best we can in the playoff round.”
“The will to win and the understanding how to win is strong in this group.”
Penn earned a 68 – 59 victory to improve to 10 – 1 in the Ancient Eight sitting atop the league. Forward Michelle Nwokedi scored a team-high 21 points and took down 10 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the year and 27 in her career.
There would be no time to relax. Columbia came into the Palestra and gave the Red and Blue a tussle in the first half. Penn began to get separation in the third quarter starting it by scoring the first 8 points to move out to a 40 – 29 lead at the 5:42 mark.
In the fourth quarter trailing 52 – 40 the Lions went on a 9 – 0 run to get to within 4 points on two free throws by Tori Oliver. The Quakers answered with a three-pointer by Kasey Chambers, who scored 11 points, at the 5:24 mark to stem the tide.
Camille Zimmerman scored a game-high 31 points for Columbia. She went 10 for 23 from the floor and was a perfect 10 for 10 form the line. Oliver added 11 points.
The Red and Blue made 9 of 18 three-pointers in the game. Penn had 1.081 points per possession compared to .919 for Blue and White.
This is the final Ivy Weekend that Penn would host this season. The Quakers travel to New England next weekend to face Dartmouth and Harvard. It will not be an easy trip, then face arch-rival Princeton. But Penn is enjoying the ride.
“It will be a tough game on Friday night, then bounce over to Harvard Saturday, then a quick turn around with Princeton on Tuesday,” said McLaughlin. “But we are going to enjoy this one and being on top. We are in one of the top 8 conferences in the country in RPI’s. It’s pretty special.”
Senior Night is an emotional night. The Quakers honored Kasey Chambers, Sydney Stipanovich, and Jackie Falconer prior to the game.
“It is pretty special,” McLaughlin said about Senior Night and the Class of 2017. “All three of them have a special spot and will always be a part of this program. That’s what a program is about.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian