PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/1/2019 – For the University of Pennsylvania is was a bounce-back opportunity. The Quakers lost to Harvard the previous weekend, then suffered a loss to the Princeton Tigers earlier in the week. The Quakers did bounce back, even within the game and won 75 – 70 over the Harvard Crimson in overtime. With the win Penn clinched a berth in the Ivy League Tournament.
“That was our goal, to make the tournament and everyone is in the moment right now, said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin.”
Bounce back was a key. The Red and Blue held a 52 – 42 lead going into the fourth quarter. Then, momentum seemed to be on the side of the Crimson. The offense disappeared as the team would score 4 points in the quarter. Leading scorer Eleah Parker was in foul trouble and fouled out early in the overtime. Captain Ashley Russell was lost due to an injury with 4:43 to play. Penn was hanging on, but Harvard got the tying points on a follow Jayden Bush with six tenths of a second on the clock knotting the game at 56.
“We knew this was going to be a tough one,” Penn guard Michae Jones said. “In this game we found a way. We kept composure which was big. We lost one of our key players and someone had to step up. The bench players came up big and that was a key to this game.”
Jones took a leadership role for the Red and Blue in the extra five minutes scoring 11 of her career-high 19 points. From the free throw line Jones connected on 9 of 10 free throws, 13 of 15 for the game. She did what she does in practice.
“Find an anchor and my anchor is do this thing with my shoulder, and that’s how I get into my zone,” Jones said about her foul shooting routine. “I follow the same rhythm in practice and that translates into the game. Mike (McLoughlin) harps on finding a rhythm and doing the same thing for each free throw. It’s muscle memory.”
The Quakers took a lead after three and needed every point they scored. Guard Phoebe Sterba, who scored 15 points, made three consecutive three-points to open the lead to 48 – 37. Sterba scored 11 of Penn’s 24 points in that frame. The offense was needed.
“The defense was the but offensively we wanted to get the shots we normally take,” Sterba said. “We weren’t efficient in the fourth quarter.”
Harvard was looking to get into first place contention. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak. The Crimson was averaging over 80 points in the three games, so the Red and Blue needed to hold them under that total.
“It was important we got the win,” said Sterba. “Coach is really harping on resilience. Our mentality is to keep on punching. The defense was good and that’s how we were punching in this game.”
Parker scored 10 points to keep her streak of double-digit scoring games alive, now at 19 games. Princess Aghayere took down a team-high 10 rebounds. The Quakers out rebounded the Crimson 53 – 42.
Harvard had five players score in double-figures led by Sydney Skinner with 17 points. Bush added 14 counters. Nani Redford, Katie Benzan, and Madeline Raster all contributed 10 points.
The Quakers host the Big Green of Dartmouth Saturday night. Harvard moves on to play Princeton. For Princeton, Harvard and Penn it is more about the seeding at this point. Dartmouth is still trying to qualify.
Penn achieved a goal of making it to the tournament.
But the players know there is more to do.
“There is definitely more to do and I think this one will propel us forward,” said Sterba.
Written By: Glenn Papazian