Penn bangs inside for overtime win over Columbia

Penn’s women proved Friday night that power inside can beat accuracy outside, but it couldn’t have been closer, as the Quakers took an overtime game at home against Columbia, 86-84.

Junior center Eleah Parker, who seems fully recovered from injuries and tentative play in the first half of the season, dominated the low post for Penn (12-5, 2-2 Ivy) to collect 28 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 12-for-23 and blocking three shots. Forward Tori Crawford continued her breakout junior year with 13 points, and senior guard Phoebe Sterba, who had an uncharacteristic cold stretch from outside, persisted and finished with 12 points and five assists.

First-year Penn standout guard Kayla Padilla scored 22 on 9-for-19 shooting, most of them in the fourth quarter and overtime. But the match-up of celebrated rookies went to Columbia (11-7, 2-3) and Abbey Hsu, who for much of the evening could not miss and ended with 28 points on 11-for-17 shooting, including 6-for-9 from three. And last year’s Ivy rookie of the year, Sienna Durr, did about as well for the Lions, with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

If you love basketball — and why else would you be reading this? — you have to love the prospect of four years of Penn vs. Columbia, Padilla vs. Hsu. Padilla, from Southern California, is quicker and more intrepid, taking risks and sinking one or two (or more) insane shots every game; Hsu, from South Florida, seems to be the more measured player, taking fewer shots and sinking a higher percentage. She’s also a bit taller, playing on a shorter team than Penn, so Columbia relies on her for more rebounds (eight Friday night, vs. Padilla’s three), and she even had three blocks against the Quakers. Without Hsu’s best game yet this season, Penn would have won much more easily and five minutes more quickly.
And that would have been a pity. If you love basketball — and again, why else would you be watching? — you can’t ask for anything better than a well-played, cleanly played game with 12 ties and 14 lead changes, with electric offense in the face of tenacious defense.
The Quakers took as much as a 10-point lead in the second quarter, but the Lions could stay close or pull ahead as long as they could pour in threes — 8-for-14 in the second half. Penn got 44 points in the paint, vs. 30 for Columbia, and 26 second-chance points, vs. 12. Parker and Penn’s inside power were just enough.
For Columbia, the next stop is Princeton on Saturday night; Penn hosts Cornell. And while you’re marking your calendar, you might want to set aside a little time on Sat., March 6, when Penn and Columbia meet again, in New York.

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