Quakers set for Ivy League play

The women’s and men’s basketball teams open their conference schedules on Saturday afternoon. The women are 8-5 and the men are 8-7.

At left, third-year guard Stina Almqvist lays the ball up while a defender tries to block her shot. At right, first-year guard Tyler Perkins dribbles the ball to the basket.
Third-year guard Stina Almqvist is the leading scorer on the women’s team and first-year guard Tyler Perkins is the second-leading scorer on the men’s team. (Images: Penn Athletics)

The women’s and men’s basketball teams open Ivy League play on Saturday. The women clash with Columbia at 2 p.m. in New York City; the men battle Dartmouth at 2 p.m. at the Palestra.

8-5 overall and riding a two-game winning streak, the women’s basketball team is aiming for its first conference championship since the 2016-17 season. Their top three scorers are third-year guard Stina Almqvist (15.8 points per game), first-year guard Mataya Gayle (15.5 points per game), and fourth-year forward Jordan Obi (15.2 points per game). Obi leads the team in rebounding (7.2 per game) and Gayle is tops in assists (2.7 per game).

Columbia is 9-4 and has won seven consecutive games. Two of their four defeats were close loses to powerhouses Duke (66-62) and Florida (83-81). The Lions’ leading scorer, fourth-year guard Abbey Hsu, leads the Ivy League in scoring (21.9 points per game) and ranks fifth in rebounding (7.2 per game). Third-year guard Kitty Henderson averages 4.6 assists per game, second in the conference.

In the Ivy Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll, Penn was ranked fourth and Columbia was ranked second. The two teams split last season’s meetings. Penn won 71-67 at the Palestra on Jan. 7 and the Lions triumphed 72-50 on Feb. 3 in New York City.

The men’s basketball team is looking for its first Ivy title since the 2017-18 season. The Quakers sit at 8-7 and are coming off two losses to No. 3-ranked Houston in Texas (81-42) and No. 25-ranked Auburn in Alabama (88-68). Fourth-year guard Clark Slajchert is the team’s leading scorer (17.4 points per game) and fourth-leading scorer in the conference, but he is out with an ankle injury. First-year guard Tyler Perkins is the team’s second-leading scorer (14.5 points per game) and first-year guard Sam Brown is the third-leading scorer (14.5 points per game). Perkins, Brown, third-year forward/center Nick Spinoso (9.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game), and third-year guard George Smith (4.6 points per game) will have to overproduce in Slajchert’s absence.

Dartmouth is 4-9 and has lost two straight games. Fourth-year forward Dusan Neskovic leads the team with 16.4 points per game. Second-year forward Brandon Mitchell-Day is putting up 11.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest. Second-year forward Jayden Williams averages 9.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per outing.

Penn was picked fifth in the Ivy Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll and Dartmouth was picked seventh. The team’s split last year’s meetings. Dartmouth won 75-71 on Jan. 14 in New Hampshire and the Quakers won 89-79 on Feb. 25 at the Palestra.