PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/6/2018 – The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team began the second part of the season, the meaningful opening of the Ivy League schedule. As per tradition the opener was against the arch-rival Princeton Tigers. Each team came in winning their last four games, and they have combined to win the last eight Ivy titles. Early advantage goes to the Tigers who earned a 70 – 55 win over the Quakers at the Palestra, and broke a 5-game Penn winning steak in this series.
“Over forty minutes they outplayed us,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “Give credit to them. They executed and made shots.”
Princeton did not let the Penn offense to get in a rhythm during the game. This allowed the Tigers front line of Bella Alaire and Leslie Robinson to outscore the Penn front line of Michelle Nwokedi and Eleah Parker by a 33 – 23 margin. Tigers guard Carlie Littlefield put the defensive pressure need to help stymie any Quakers flow, and handed out 5 assists.
“She (Littlefield) was a huge difference maker,” said Banghart.
“On offense we were watching the pressure rather than facilitating to stop it,” said Penn guard Anna Ross.
On the other end of the floor Princeton moved the ball well inside and outside to open up three-pointers. Tigers guard Gabrielle Rush made a career-high 5 from beyond the arc, four in the first half.
The Tigers (11 – 3, 1 – 0) made nearly half their shots (47.1%) while the Quakers (6 – 5, 0 – 1) finished at 32.8%. Points per possession went to the Princeton 1.077 per while Penn was .873.
“They moved the ball, played inside-out,” said McLaughlin. “They recognized, saw some spots they could score on. They made shots, some really difficult shots at the right time.”
Alarie recorded a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. She also blocked 8 shots. Robinson scored 15 points. Rush contributed 17 points.
Parker led the Red and Blue with 14 points. Ross scored 11 and had a game-high 7 assists and did not turn the ball over. Nwokedi had 9 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
“These are two well-built teams,” said Banghart. “That’s what’s what makes these battles so epic. I give credit to our inside game. We handled it pretty good.”
One game does not decide the Ivy Championship or the top-seed in the tournament, but this is a position Penn did not want to be in. The next step is a home series for the Quakers against Cornell and Columbia at home.
“We’ll learn from this,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll be back at it and get ready for next weekend.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian