Four Quakeaways from Penn women’s basketball’s loss to No. 25 Princeton

My friends Steve Silverman and George “Toothless Tiger” Clark did a fine job covering No. 25 Princeton women’s basketball’s win at Penn, so (with apologies to Ian Wenik, the Quakeaways man), here are four Quakeaways from Saturday’s game:

1. The talent is there for Penn

The team that showed up Saturday and damn near caught the Tigers is gelling later in the season than coach Mike McLaughlin might have liked, but the talent is there, and the younger players are coming into their own. It’s not just point guard Mataya Gayle, though she’s obviously made the strongest impression. It’s also her fellow freshman guard Ese Ogbevire, who banged in threes and slashed to the rim for a career-high 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 23 minutes off the bench. And players who were injured (Floor Toonders) or struggling (Simone Sawyer) in the first half of the season are getting more time and using it more effectively.

2. Obi is essential

Senior forward Jordan Obi is the Quakers’ essential ingredient. On Saturday, she was the team’s top scorer, top rebounder and top force in the paint: 17 points on 5-for-10 shooting, nine rebounds and a pair of blocks. She held her own against Princeton senior Ellie Mitchell and (off the bench) sophomore Tabitha Amanze.

3. Turnovers loomed large

You can’t win games against good teams if you turn the ball over 27 times. And a remarkable number of those Penn turnovers came on shot-clock violations, or by rushed passes or other errors as the shot clock ran down.

4. No. 4 seed within reach 
At just 3-5 in the conference, the Quakers seem the most likely of the contenders to grab the fourth slot in Ivy Madness (behind Princeton, Columbia and Harvard) — and next weekend should pretty well decide. Penn’s next two games are at Yale (also 3-5 Ivy) and Brown (4-4). Brown, meanwhile, is in the middle of a tough run through the gauntlet: three straight losses at Penn, Princeton and Columbia, to be followed by Princeton, Penn, Harvard and Columbia. And Yale still has to face Princeton, Columbia and Brown.