Portions of this story courtesy of Penn Athletic Communications
PHILADELPHIA -- Penn women's basketball, #IvyMadness winners.
Penn (22-7, 13-1 Ivy) punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, defeating the second-seeded Princeton Tigers (16-13, 9-5), 57-48, in the championship of the first-ever Ivy League Tournament. With the win, the Quakers secured their third bid to the NCAA Tournament in the last four years and second-straight.
The Red and Blue led wire to wire at The Palestra, beating the Tigers for the third time this season and second time in six days to ensure their ticket would be punched for the Big Dance on Selection Monday.
Penn junior forward Michelle Nwokedi, the 2017 Ivy League Player of the Year, was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament. She was joined on the All-Tournament team by her Quaker junior guard Anna Ross, along with Princeton teammates Bella Alarie and Leslie Robinson along with Brown teammates Shayna Mehta and Erika Steeves.
Penn will have to wait until Selection Monday to find out where they will be seeded and playing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Selection Show is set to air on ESPN at 7 p.m. on Monday.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Anna Ross led the charge for the Quakers, putting up 17 points and four assists after putting up 12 and six in the semifinals against Brown on Saturday. In the post, Michelle Nwokedi lived up to her Ivy Player of the Year mantle, posting 15 points and 11 boards for her 15th double-double of the season and her seventh in the last eight games. The duo was complemented by Kasey Chambers, who contributed 13 points, four boards, and five assists in her final game at The Palestra.
It was the Penn defense that made the win possible, limiting the Tigers to 18-for-64 (28.1%) shooting and allowing just seven assists as the Quakers themselves shot 22-for-55 (40.0%) from the field and a critical 8-for-25 (32.0%) from three. Penn’s technical control powered the win, with a 15-to-11 assist/turnover ratio, five blocks, and just 13 total fouls on the afternoon.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Quakers’ signature defense held the Tigers scoreless for nearly the first three minutes of the contest, allowing the Red and Blue to jump out to an early 8-4 lead thanks in part to a pair of baskets from Anna Ross. After Princeton narrowed it to an 8-7 gap at the media timeout, neither team could gain any separation — it was a 15-14 advantage for Penn by the end of the first frame with Ross’ six and Kasey Chambers’ four points carrying the majority of the burden for the Quakers.
In the second quarter, Ross started right back where she left off, nailing a trey on Penn’s opening possession and a pair of layups from Princess Aghayere brought the Quakers’ lead out to eight with 7:20 left in the first half. The Red and Blue held the Tigers without a point for the first 8:48 of the second quarter, facilitating a 12-0 run as Penn held their rivals to just 22.6% shooting in the first half. A pair of blocks from Michelle Nwokedi helped keep the run going, and the Quakers ultimately took a 29-18 lead into the break.
The Quakers didn’t let up into the second half, as Nwokedi hit back-to-back treys before Ross added two baskets of her own for an 11-3 run. The Tigers were simply unable to get much momentum — whenever they strung a basket or two together, the Red and Blue were quick to respond at the other end with 12 of their 16 third-quarter points coming from beyond the arc. Through three frames, Penn held on to a 45-30 advantage.
After a quiet 30 minutes, Kasey Chambers hit her stride in the fourth quarter, hitting consecutive shots from the corner early in the frame. Princeton started chipping away at the Quakers’ lead however, getting it to 50-39 with under six minutes to play before Chambers drained another three to stop the run. Although the Tigers were able to get the deficit to single digits with a minute to play, they got no closer than seven before they had to start fouling and the Quakers could ice the game and secure the championship in the first-ever Ivy League Tournament.