PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/7/2017 – Maybe the game did not mean much in the standings or for seeding, but any win in the conference is a good win. Especially, when it comes against an arch-rival. The University of Pennsylvania closes out the regular season with a convincing 52 – 40 win over the Princeton Tigers at the Palestra.
“We wanted to play to the end,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “We made that commitment when we started. We won the regular season on Saturday, but tonight’s Penn – Princeton. We were looking ahead, and I am sure they were as well, to this great weekend. I wanted them to compete and they did.”
Next up for the Red and Blue is the inaugural Ivy League Tournament this weekend on their home court. The Quakers are the top seed and regular season champions.Penn will play Brown in the first round game on Saturday. Princeton will take on Harvard in the other semifinal.
This victory for the Quakers can be credited to the defense. On two occasions the Tigers had a long scoring drought. In the first half they were limited in a sequence where they made 1 of 9 field goals. In the second half they made 1 of 11 that gave Penn the breathing room they needed.
“We defended them well,” McLaughlin said. “We rebounded the ball cleanly in certain parts of the game. This was all defense related.”
It was not a work of art of offense for either team. Penn shot 15 of 50 (30%). Anna Ross was the leading scorer with 14 points and she had a game-high 4 assists. Forward Michelle Nwokedi turned in 13 points and 7 rebounds. The Quakers got big contributions from Sydney Stipanovich, who grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 2 shots, and Princess Aghayere with 8 points and 7 rebounds, 3 on offense.
Princeton made 15 of their 57 attempts in the game. Leslie Robinson and Vanessa Smith led the team with 8 points each. Bella Alarie put in 7 points and took down 9 rebounds.
Penn is the Ivy League Champions for the second straight year winning the league by 4 games. The Red and Blue is 20 – 7 and has a 13 – 1 Ivy record. Princeton finished 15 – 12, 9 – 5 in the Ancient Eight.
“This is a top eight conference in the country right now, and to be able to go through this league and lose only one time is amazing,” McLaughlin said.
Now, all that matters is the tournament.
“This tournament is wide open,” said McLaughlin. “If we play relaxed, let the chips fall where they may. This group has accomplished so much and I would like to see it end on an NCAA floor, but we are just going to compete and see what happens.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian