Game 25: Harvard – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (W. Hoops)

Good Bad & Ugly






Penn’s six-game winning streak came to an end tonight as the Quakers (15-10, 8-3 Ivy) fell to the Crimson (17-8, 8-3 Ivy), 67-54. With tonight’s loss, Harvard and Penn are now tied for second place in the Ivy League standings.

THE GOOD: Penn’s resilience with a young team.

After a difficult first half where the Quakers fell behind by as many as 20 points, Penn proved that it would not go down without a fight. The Quakers showed some spark at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. Though Penn’s offense went cold again and the Quakers ultimately let the game get away from them at the end of the second half, the resilience of Penn’s team after a bad first half is a good sign. For Penn’s younger players, such as freshman guard Keiera Ray, to maintain their stamina and focus despite an uphill battle and large deficit shows promise for the future as the team matures.

THE BAD: Penn’s first half.

Penn struggled to get on the board at the start of the game, and this was a foreshadowing of what was to come for most of the night. In the first half, Penn only made 21% of their shots, including going 2-13 from three. Even more troubling was Penn’s defensive efforts which are usually the strongest asset of their game. The Crimson outrebounded 24-15 in the first half. Though Penn got within six by the middle of the second half, the energy the Quakers expended on keeping the game within reach in the beginning ultimately led to their inability to keep up with Harvard.

THE UGLY: The possible loss of Penn’s postseason berth.

Barring any major upsets, tonight’s Harvard loss may have sealed Penn out of any postseason action. Though both the Quakers and the Crimson are tied for second place, Penn still has to face first-place Princeton in its last game of the season. In their first meeting, the Tigers whooped Penn, handing them a 30-point loss, 77-47. Though the Quakers have improved since then, beating Princeton may be too tall an order. By comparison, Harvard’s remaining schedule should be a walk in the park, facing last-place Columbia twice and Cornell once.

Game 24: Dartmouth – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (W. Hoops)

Good Bad & Ugly






The Quakers (15-9, 8-2 Ivy) notched their sixth straight victory beating Dartmouth (6-18, 4-6 Ivy) 55-45. But what happened at Harvard is the story of the night...

THE GOOD: Brianna Bradford.

Senior Brianna Bradford had one of the best games of her Penn career. In her last road trip and her 100th game as a Quaker, Bradford recorded a career-high 17 points, going 3-for-4 behind the arc, while the rest of the team combined for only 2-for-21. With Baron and Ray in foul trouble in the second half, Bradford's added offensive help was instrumental in Penn's win.

THE BAD: The Quakers offense in the first half.

Penn only recorded 20 points in the first half, shooting 8-for-31 and an abysmal 1-for-16 from behind the arc. Without their stellar defense, the Quakers could have lost hold of the game early. As they move to face Harvard tomorrow, any opportunities the Red and Blue give for the Crimson to take the lead, a cold first half could spell trouble.

THE SHOCK: Harvard beating Princeton.

Harvard ended Princeton’s 33 game Ivy winning streak. After winning 50 of their last 51 Ivy games, Harvard pulled a huge upset, beating the Tigers 58-55. As Penn faces Harvard tomorrow, the Crimson will be high off their win and on the hunt to shut down the Quakers. With Harvard one game behind the Quakers, and the Quakers one game behind Princeton, the standings are wide open. If Penn wins all of its remaining games (still a difficult task with Harvard and Princeton still to play) to cap off its season, the Quakers would earn their first berth to the NCAA Tournament since 2003-04.


Game 23: Columbia – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (W. Hoops)

Good Bad & Ugly








Penn beat Columbia, 66-48, to complete its second consecutive Ivy weekend sweep.

THE GOOD: Penn's offensive depth

This team bears almost no resemblance to that of three years ago when Alyssa Baron was the only producer. Four players posted double digits against Columbia. Baron notched 21 points of the night, Kara Bonenberger produced 13 and Keiera Ray had another big weekend with 12. Kathleen Roche continued to shoot important shots where she needed to, notching four threes of her own.

THE BAD: Columbia's second half defense.

For a second time this season, Columbia showed aggressive defense at the beginning of the first half but couldn’t adjust when Penn's offense did. The Lions let the game get away from them in the second half for a second time this season, allowing Penn to go on a 32-9 run.

 THE UGLY: Princeton

Princeton continues to decimate the Ivy League competition, making first place a lofty goal for the Quakers. After a 98-36 drubbing of Columbia on Friday, the Tigers again notched a 20+-point victory against Cornell, beating the Big Red 59-34.


Liveblog: Penn v. Columbia (W. Hoops)

The women's basketball team (13-9, 6-2 Ivy) looks for its fifth consecutive Ivy win against Columbia (3-19, 1-7 Ivy). Follow our liveblog here!

Liveblog: Penn v. Cornell (W. Hoops)

Follow along as the second place Quakers (12-9,5-2 Ivy) take on the Big Red (11-10, 3-4 Ivy) to begin their second pass through the Ivy gauntlet.

Behind Enemy Lines: Temple’s Tonya Cardoza

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Penn will play its final Big 5 opponent in its last non-conference game of the season against Temple on Wednesday. Penn (7-7, 0-1 Ivy) will be looking for its first win against Temple (7-10) since 2003. For this edition of Behind Enemy Lines, I spoke with Owls' head coach Tonya Cardoza about notching her 100th win in less than five years and the youth of her 2012-2013 squad.

This season, you reached a landmark, you got your 100th win. What does that mean to you?

Cardoza: It means a lot. Obviously every game that you go into you want to win and the fact that I’ve been able to do it in four and a half years, it’s just a credit to the kids that I’ve coached and the staff that I’ve had surrounding me. It feels good to get that out of the way. The last month or so, knowing that we were so close, it was finally good to  get that one win. It means a lot because it’s a milestone a lot of people are not able to reach and the fact that I’ve been able to do it, like I said, in four and a half years I’m happy with that.

You’ve obviously had a very successful couple of seasons at Temple and I know this season is a little different. You have a very young team. It’s the second most inexperienced in Division I. How has that affected your level of play and goals for the season?

Cardoza: Obviously our goals have to change and as we came into the season our expectation was to still do the same things we’ve done in the past and we haven’t been able to do that. We haven’t reached the same level of success up to this point but everyday, we are young, and everyday we have to get better because we’re also building for the future. We haven’t had a lot of wins but everyday in practice we’re trying to get better with the hopes that it carries over down the stretch and that we’re able to make a run for it.

But it’s been something different, something that obviously none of us have been used to because we haven’t lost many games here so we’re not going to be accustomed to losing as well. We know that we are young, and we do have a lot of inexperience but sometimes it’s not about inexperience it’s just about what effort you give and I think there’s sometimes that we’ve lost games this year, not because we were young, just because we didn’t do little things.

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Has Yale already ended the Quakers’ volleyball season?

Last weekend, the Penn volleyball team beat Princeton. Now what?

The Quakers are tied with Harvard for third place in the Ivy League Standings, one game behind Princeton and three games behind undefeated defending champion Yale. Now beginning its second pass through the Ivy gauntlet, Penn not only must win but has to do what all teams hate doing: Hope its opponents will lose.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be a very realistic proposal. Not only has Yale yet to lose a single game to an Ivy opponent, they have only lost two sets in the Ivy season — one to Brown and one to Dartmouth, the two teams tied for last place in the Ivy League rankings. The Bulldogs are opportunistic and excel against competitive teams that have given them problems in the past, like Princeton. Their offense thrives, even against strong defensive back rows like Penn, and is ranked third in the nation in both kills and assists per set.

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Dani Shepherd alone atop Division I

Junior Dani Shepherd currently leads the Division I standings in digs per set. After an impressive weekend against Princeton and Towson, she is now boasting 6.61 digs/sets, which will extend her already comfortable lead.

Shepherd was picked for the first-team All-Ivy last season and finished last season third in the nation in digs per set.

She is the only Ivy player in the top 50 in this category, and she is just one aspect of the impressive defense the Quakers have mustered up so far this season. Despite losing their first Ivy League match of the season, Penn had a strong defensive showing, posting 10 blocks and 118 digs in the five-set match.

W. Hoops Lands Long Island Forward

The New York Post has reported that Sade Gibbons, a rising senior at Long Island Lutheran High School, has verbally committed to play women’s basketball at Penn.

The 6-foot-1 forward chose Penn over Delaware, Davidson, Fairfield and Manhattan.

Gibbons helped the Crusaders win a state Federation Class B title two years ago and reach the finals last season. Gibbons played in 20 of the 23 games for LuHi last season.

Gibbons will be an interesting addition to the Quakers. The Post reports that though she is naturally right-handed, she goes to the hoop as a lefty.

After a 13-15 season last year, the strength of Penn's past two recruiting classes has been one of the hallmarks of coach Mike McLaughlin's tenure thus far. Gibbons will now be an addition to that legacy.

Back-to-Back Schedule Puts Quakers in a Quandary

As the women’s basketball team embarks on Ivy play, their biggest strength may also be their biggest weakness. Freshman Alyssa Baron, who just swept all three Player of the Week awards, has been the Quakers strongest asset all season. Baron is the team’s leading scorer with 16.1 points per game, a number which is double that of their second leading scorer junior Jess Knapp (8.0 points per game).

However, despite Baron’s success, which has helped keep the Quakers afloat against a string of tough opponents, McLaughlin may have a problem on his hands as the back-to-back weekends of the Ivy schedule will force less playing time per game for Baron.

Baron has played an average of 33.2 minutes per game this season, including 38 in their last match against Temple and a full 40 against Villanova. However, the Friday-Saturday Ivy schedule will make these sorts of long stretches difficult to maintain.

“I don’t think you can go Ivy 40-40 minutes,” coach Mike McLaughlin said when asked about his strategy for conserving Baron’s playing time. “Our challenge will be to make sure we have ten players every day to be able to play in these back to back games. We’ll get there.”

The Quakers will have to build consistency and intensity throughout their roster – and fast – as the Quakers embark on their first Ivy road trip this weekend when they face Yale on Friday and Brown on Saturday.

With the spread out schedule that has been afforded to the Quakers thus far, they have been able to maintain the same starting lineup for 14 of their last 15 games and have relied on a few key players to go long stretches.

“I think Erin Power falls into that,” McLaughlin said. “We need depth. We need some of our players to step up a little bit.”

Senior guard Power is right behind Baron with an average of 32.9 minutes per game, including 39 minutes against Temple and a full 40 against Virginia.

McLaughlin said that the coaches will be providing more opportunities for players who have gotten less playing time to “step up”, but based on the offensive inconsistency the Quakers have been exhibiting thus far, even with Baron providing constant assistance, Penn’s bench may not be deep enough to overcome this challenge.

This weekend’s matches against Yale and Brown will be the Red and Blue’s first test as they try to redeem themselves from last year’s 1-13 Ivy season.