Stina Almqvist leads Penn women’s basketball past Cornell, 67-54

Stina Almqvist got a ESPN+ interview after Penn’s 67-54 win over Cornell at the Palestra Monday. (ESPN+)
Stina Almqvist’s career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds propelled the Penn women’s basketball team to a 67-54 Martin Luther King Jr. Day win over Cornell in the Quakers’ Ivy home opener.
Almqvist, the 6-foot-1 junior guard from Sweden, has made the jump this season from dependable role player — with 11 minutes a game last season — to leading scorer and constant presence (37 minutes on Monday). Penn has two other players averaging in double points, but on an afternoon when neither of them had a dominant performance, Almqvist came through, repeatedly weaving to the hoop through Cornell defenders and hitting 10 of 18 shots.
Penn senior forward Jordan Obi had 14 points and nine rebounds, but foul trouble limited her playing time. Junior guard Lizzy Groetsch helped fill the gap and scored 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting. And freshman point guard Mataya Gayle had half of Penn’s 14 assists on the afternoon but was uncharacteristically cold from the floor, shooting 1-for-9.
“Mataya’s awesome, so, like, even though she’s cold she’s such a playmaker,” Almqvist told Ivy Hoops Online afterward. “Even though the ball maybe didn’t go in today, she did so many great things for us. I’m confident every time she gets the ball.”
Cornell kept things close through the first half, leading 14-12 after the first quarter (its biggest lead) and staying close through the half on 10-of-30 shooting. But Penn had the hotter hand, shooting 9-for-23 in the first two periods to take a five-point lead into halftime, and the young Big Red team didn’t sink a three all day. Sophomore forward Summer Parker-Hall and junior guard Kaya Ingram led Cornell with 14 points apiece, and Parker-Hall had seven rebounds.
In the second half, the Quakers’ lead expanded to double digits, the Big Red began to harass them with a full-court press, and the Quakers repeatedly struggled to break it.
“I think we got a little stressed, but then we took some timeouts and we tried to figure it out,” Almqvist said.

In any case, the Big Red couldn’t capitalize on enough of Penn’s turnovers. Although Penn had more turnovers in the game (15 to Cornell’s 12), Penn had more points from turnovers (12 to 10).

Cornell (6-9, 0-3 Ivy) will host a strong Brown team (11-5, 2-1) on Saturday, while Penn (10-6, 2-1) hits the road again to play Harvard (9-7, 2-1).

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