Center Eleah Parker sent the opening tap forward directly to Tori Crawford, who whipped the ball to Phoebe Sterba, who launched a three-pointer for nothing but net. The Penn lead was never really threatened for the next 39 minutes and 55 seconds, and the Quakers (13-5, 3-2) beat the Big Red (9-9, 2-4), 63-41.
A night after the Penn women took a memorable game from Columbia in overtime, coach Mike McLaughlin said he was worried that fatigue might keep the Quakers from being sharp when they faced Cornell on Saturday at the Palestra.
The Quakers needed just five seconds to set those worries to rest.
Sterba, the senior guard from Cleveland, had a bit of an off night Friday, but she knocked down a half-dozen threes against Cornell, including nine of Penn’s first 13 points. The other four points belonged to Crawford, who also got assists on two of Sterba’s bombs, and by that point in the game Penn had already blocked three Cornell shots. Sterba finished the night with 22 points, Crawford had 10 plus nine rebounds, and Parker had 13 points with eight rebounds and four blocks.
McLaughlin gave much of the credit for the convincing win to a player who on Saturday led the team in just one category: minutes played. Point guard Kendall Grasela, he said, controlled the tempo and created the space for her higher-scoring teammates to shine. (She also picked up six points and four assists.) Sterba also credited Grasela and fellow guards Michae Jones and Kayla Padilla: “We have really good point play. Kendall was really aggressive tonight and was getting the ball up the floor, whether it was on advances or dribbling. And then so was Michae; so was Kayla. So when you have really good guards like that, who can do that, it really opens the floor for everyone else.”
Cornell, a night after suffering a trouncing at Princeton, got 10 points and seven rebounds apiece from forwards Halley Miklos and Laura Bagwell-Katalinich, but that wasn’t nearly enough; Penn held Cornell to 29.5 percent from the floor.
The Big Red got a long bus ride back to Ithaca after their toughest weekend of the Ivy season. The Quakers got a chance to ice their tired joints and bask in the satisfaction of two strong wins at home.
Cornell hosts Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend, while Penn hits the road to Brown and Yale.