Penn must slay archrival Princeton to reach Ivy final

The women’s and men’s basketball teams go toe-to-toe with the Tigers this weekend in New Jersey in the semifinals of the Ivy League Tournament.

Images: Penn Athletics

Penn’s months-long quest for a conference basketball championship concludes this weekend in the most hostile of hostile territories, archenemy Princeton’s Jadwin Gym, host of this year’s Ivy League Tournament.

As the basketball gods would have it, the two longtime rivals will face off against each other in Ivy Madness’s opening round.

Tipping off first is the No. 4-seeded women’s basketball team, who will have their hands full with the top-seeded Tigers on Friday, March 10, at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN+.

Fourth-year guard Kayla Padilla averages 17.5 points per game, second in the Ivy League. (Image: Penn Athletics)

The 17-10 Quakers went 9-5 in conference play. Their top three scorers are fourth-year guard Kayla Padilla (17.5 ppg), third-year forward Jordan Obi (13.1 ppg), and fourth-year guard Mandy McGurk (8.1 ppg). Obi is the team’s best rebounder (7.6 rpg); Padilla leads the team in assists (3.5 apg).

Padilla on Wednesday was unanimously selected First-Team All-Ivy, her third First-Team honor in three seasons. Obi earned her second straight Second-Team award.

The Red & Blue are averaging 64.4 points per contest and giving up 58.7 points per outing. They are shooting .409 from the field, .342 from the three-point line, and .664 from the foul line.

Third-year forward Jordan Obi averages 13.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. (Image: Penn Athletics)

21-5 Princeton had a 12-2 regular-season conference mark, an 11-2 record at home, and is currently riding a 13-game winning streak. Their top three scorers are third-year guard Kaitlyn Chen (15.4 ppg), fourth-year guard Julia Cunningham (10.5 ppg), and fourth-year guard Grace Stone (9.9 ppg). Third-year forward Ellie Mitchell is the Ivy League’s top rebounder (10.8 rpg). Chen leads the team in assists (4.2 apg).

Chen on Wednesday was named Ivy League Player of the Year; first-year Princeton guard Madison St. Rose earned Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors; Mitchell received Ivy League Co-Defensive Player of the Year recognition.

Princeton is scoring at 66.2 points a pop and surrendering 52.8. They shoot .424 from the field, .323 from behind the arc, and .701 from the charity stripe.

Fourth-year guard Mandy McGurk averages 8.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. (Image: Penn Athletics)

The Tigers swept the season series. On Jan. 16, the Quakers lost 55-40 at the Palestra. Penn’s 40 points came from four players Obi (18), Padilla (15), McGurk (5), and junior guard Michaela Stanfield (2). The Quakers held Chen to 9 points, but St. Rose had 15 and Cunningham had 11. Princeton outrebounded Penn 39-26.

On March 3, the Red & Blue fell 71-52 at the Palestra. Obi (19) and Padilla (17) were the only Quakers to score in double figures, and Padilla had an off-shooting night (6-20). Chen had 27 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. Penn outrebounded Princeton 37-29; the Tigers caused 24 turnovers.

Keys to Victory: Padilla and Obi must put up big numbers in points—efficient points—and rebounds, and get sizeable help from other members of the team. Thirty to 35 for Padilla, 25 and 15 for Obi, and someone else has to step up. The Quakers must keep Chen in check, keep Mitchell off the boards, and keep their turnovers under 10.

Third-year guard Jordan Dingle averages 23.6 points per game, tops in the Ivy League and second in the country. (Image: Penn Athletics)

The No. 3-seeded men’s basketball team takes on No. 2-seed Princeton on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

17-12 Penn had a 9-5 record against conference competition. The top three scorers are third-year guard Jordan Dingle (23.6 ppg), third-year guard Clark Slajchert (13.5 ppg), and third-year forward Max Martz (11.0 ppg). Fourth-year guard Lucas Monroe is the leading rebounder (6.0 rpg). Second-year forward Nick Spinoso is tops in assists (3.1 apg).

Dingle on Tuesday was named Ivy League Player of the Year. He is the second-leading scorer in the nation. His 23.6 points per game average is second in Ivy League history only to Jim Barton’s 24.5 points per game during the 1987-88 season.

Second-year forward Nick Spinoso is averaging 8.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. (Image: Penn Athletics)

Penn is averaging 75.1 points per game to their opponents’ 71.8. They are shooting .465 on field goals, .358 from behind the arc, and .743 from the foul line.

The second-seeded Tigers are 19-8 overall, 10-4 in the Ivy League, and 10-3 at home. Their top three scorers are fourth-year forward Tosan Evbuomwan (14.5 ppg), fourth-year guard Ryan Langborg (12.0 ppg), and third-year guard Matt Allocco (11.1 ppg). First-year forward Caden Pierce is the leading rebounder (6.8 rpg). Evbuomwan is tops in assists (4.9 apg).

Pierce is the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Evbuomwan is a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection, and Allocco is a Second-Team honoree.

Princeton is scoring 76.0 points per game and holding opponents to 68.6. They are shooting .459 on field goals, .342 from deep, and .712 on foul shots.

The Tigers won both regular season matchups. Penn was defeated 72-60 on Jan. 16 at the Palestra. Dingle scored 21 points but shot 6-22 from the field. Evbuomwan had 26 points and seven rebounds. The Red & Blue were outrebounded 44-36.

Third-year guard Andrew Laczkowski defends the ball during the Jan. 16 game at the Palestra. (Image: Penn Athletics)

The Quakers were up 42-25 at halftime of the game at Princeton on March 4, but the Tigers outscored the Red & Blue 41-24 in the second half and 11-3 in overtime to snatch away the 77-69 win. Dingle had 28 and Evbuomwan had 15.

Keys to Victory: Although they got swept during the season, the Quakers should enter the game with some confidence. Dingle had a bad shooting day in the first loss, and the Quakers were dominant in the first half of the second game before they imploded. Dingle must score in the 30-35 range and at least two other Quakers must score in the high teens/low 20s. Penn must make 7-10 three-pointers, box out, and rebound. Keep Evbuomwan under 20. Monroe’s defense will be key.

The winner of the Penn-Princeton women’s game takes on the winner of the Columbia-Harvard game for the Ivy League championship on Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPNews. The Quakers split the season series against the Lions and the Crimson.

The winner of the Penn-Princeton men’s game takes on the winner of the Yale-Cornell game for the conference title on Sunday at noon on ESPN2. The Red & Blue split the season series against both teams.