Eleah Parker, Penn’s leading scorer and the 2018 Ivy League rookie of the year, could not be stopped on the block Friday, and the Quakers rolled over the Columbia Lions, 79-56. at the Palestra.
The win was a rebound for Penn, which suffered its first league loss last weekend against Harvard, 80-72, in double overtime.
“We know what we’re going through. We know where we sit in the standings,” said Penn coach Mike McLaughlin. “We just need a one-game winning streak. That’s what we talked about [this week], and we got it tonight."
The Quakers (17-4, 7-1 Ivy) used a swarming zone defense that was anchored by Parker to gain an early 17-8 advantage. Parker had a block in the first quarter, and Columbia (7-15, 3-6) had six turnovers to the Quakers’ one. Parker also ended the quarter with a block. At one point. Penn had a 40-20 shooting advantage over the Lions.
The Lions continued to turn the ball over in the second quarter, and the Quakers built their lead. Columbia didn’t score its first points of the second quarter until halfway through, and the Penn combination of Parker, senior forward Princess Aghayere, and sophomore forward Tori Crawford didn’t allow the Lions much room inside for easy points. That trio combined for four blocks in the first half, and the Lions led, 33-21.
The Quakers’ three-point shots began to fall in the third quarter. They were 3-for-14 from long range in the first half. But, by the end of the third quarter, they were 8-for-21 and ahead, 64-37.
“Just stay the course and be good at what we are,” McLaughlin said of his strategy. "We did a better job. We cleaned up some of the mistakes we may or may not be making and put ourselves in a pretty good position.”
Quakers senior guard Ashley Russell finished the night with 15 points and five assists. Aghayere had 19 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block.
“Just stepping up when certain players penetrated the middle," Parker said, explaining her success on defense. “Making sure we had good help stepping up to contest that shot and making sure we had good help down low.
Parker ended with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks.