Women's hoops turns its season around against Cornell
Feb. 7, 2009
Before this past weekend, the Penn women’s basketball team had lost to Cornell in three straight meetings.
Yet Penn’s 65-56 win on Saturday couldn’t have been as sweet as the Red and Blue’s victory over the Big Red four years ago today.
Struggling to shake off an eight–game losing streak, Penn conquered Cornell in Ithaca on Feb. 7, 2009, 79-70, to notch its first Ivy win of the season.
After a tough loss to Columbia the night before, it seemed as though the Empire State was determined to keep the Quakers down. Cornell shot 7-for-10 from the three-point line in the first half, leaving Penn with an 11-point deficit at the break.
“I was very angry,” then-coach Pat Knapp (Mike McLaughlin’s predecessor) said. “We weren’t defending people tightly enough, thus they got way more open shots than they should have.”
But the second half saw a team reborn. The Red and Blue bounced back to play a near-perfect offensive game, outscoring the Big Red 55-35 and sinking 16 of 22 shots from the field in the half.
Then-senior guard and captain Anca Popovici was perfect from the floor (4-for-4) and the charity stripe (3-for-3) that night, culminating in a then-season-high 11 points. Together with forward and fellow senior co-captain Carrie Biemer, the two boosted the Quakers up to a 46-46 tie with 9:46 left in the game.
With 5:41 to go and Penn up by one at 56-55, Popovici jump started a successful stretch, scoring on four of Penn’s next five possessions, single-handedly outscoring Cornell, 7-5. With 3:50 left, she sank a free throw to push Penn up to a 65-60 lead.
Then Biemer stepped in and hit a three-pointer, increasing the Quakers’ edge to eight.
The Red and Blue had taken their largest lead at 73-63 with 1:30 to go when then-junior guard Sarah Bucar came off the bench, locking in a Penn victory by making four out of six foul shots.
Biemer had fouled out only 13 minutes into the previous night’s game against Columbia, going up against star forward Judie Lomax.
“She’s very athletic, and she’s very patient with the ball, and she is definitely one of the strongest players I’ve ever played against,” Biemer said. “She goes hard, and she is a great rebounder, and that’s why I got into foul trouble.”
With Biemer on the bench, Lomax came away with 12 rebounds in what would be a Lions record-setting season of 401 rebounds.
Moving on from her struggles that night, Biemer stacked an impressive 27 points against Cornell and tied a career high by making five three-pointers.
“Teams leave me open, and I get rhythm going once I get confident, and I feel like I can shoot all the time,” Biemer said.
In addition to Biemer’s and Popovici’s performances, fellow senior Katarina Lackner and sophomore Erin Power all scored in double digits that night.
With the losing streak firmly in their rearview mirror, the Quakers took the win over the Big Red and kept right on rolling, sweeping their next weekend of Ivy contests.
-by Danielle Chuang