The Penn women did what they needed to do Saturday and got what they needed to get — a resounding 79-54 win at the Palestra against Dartmouth.
All that remains on the Penn schedule: a trip Friday to Princeton for a shot at the Ivy League Tournament. At 12-13, 7-6 in the Ivies, Penn needs to do better than a tie with Harvard (12-12, 6-6) in the standings to claim fourth place in the league.
The Quakers scored the first 13 points, built the lead to 20-plus in the first half and never faced a challenge. This gave them the luxury of playing everyone on the roster, with special attention to the four seniors on Senior Day.
Meg Hair, who missed almost all of the season from an injury she suffered before the first game, was in the starting lineup for the first time in her four years at Penn. She got the celebration going by hitting a three from the left corner on her first shot of the season during that initial 13-0 run. Regular starters Mia Lakstigala and Kennedy Suttle had good all-around games: 12 points, five rebounds and four assists for Lakstigala, and six points, five rebounds and four assists for Suttle. (Suttle, who usually battles inside, got all her points with threes.) And Nikola Kovacikova put in a free throw near the end to cap off the seniors’ scoring.
Sophomore forward Jordan Obi led the scoring with 16 points and came up just short of a double-double with nine rebounds. And junior guard Kayla Padilla had 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting, including 3-for-7 from long range.
As in its previous game, Wednesday night at Cornell, the first quarter showed Penn at its best, hitting two-thirds of its shots, including five of eight on treys, while not giving Dartmouth much (holding it to 24% from the floor for the first 10 minutes). The Quakers moved the ball sharply, accumulating 17 assists for the game — well above their average — vs. the Green’s 10. All in all, this was the strong team that Penn was expected to put on the court this season — the one picked for second place in the Ivies — but that showed up only fitfully until February.
For Dartmouth (3-22, 2-11), junior forward Emma Koch had a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds), and 6-4 freshman forward Doreen Ariik came off the bench for eight points on 4-for-6 shooting. First-year coach Adrienne Shibles, like Penn’s Mike McLaughlin, gave game time to everyone on her roster. With nine first-year players and only two seniors, and with her first recruiting class arriving in the fall, she can build a more competitive program.
Penn is wishing Dartmouth success — especially March 5, when it plays Harvard in Hanover. A Dartmouth upset could put Penn into Ivy Madness. Harvard’s game at Princeton, which had been scheduled for Sunday, was postponed because of COVID concerns on the Princeton side. No makeup date has been set.