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Big 5 Roundup: Penn WBB clinches Ivy League tourney berth; St. Joe's WBB ties program wins mark

03/02/2024, 9:45pm EST
By Jake Adams

Jake Adams (@jakeadams520)

Two nights, two wins, at least one extra game to play this season.

Penn women's basketball did exactly what it needed to do over the course of 24 hours of Palestra hoops, beating Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday to clinch a berth in the Ivy League Tournament.

The Quakers' 69-67 grind in the home finale Saturday ensured them the final spot in the four-team bracket, the fifth time they've made it in the six seasons the tourney has been held (it was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Penn won the inaugural tournament in 2017.

Penn's Jordan Obi had a team-high 15 points in Saturday's senior night win over Harvard. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL file)

Saturday's game was senior night. Coach Mike McLaughlin, who has led the team since 2009 and won more than 240 games, called it one of the top five or six wins in his tenure, behind only the Ivy League championship clinchers (four).

"I’m kind of taken aback because I’m just really happy for these kids," McLaughlin said over the phone.

The Quakers (15-11, 7-6) will play either Princeton or Columbia in the semifinals March 15. They close the regular season March 9 at Princeton in a potential tournament preview.

McLaughlin was especially proud of this team for its growth all season. Starting a freshman point guard and bringing in several new players since the summer, he said he saw a lot of maturation since the preseason. Penn started league play 3-5 but has won three straight. Where they once couldn't get key stops late to seal a win, they are now executing in those moments. 

That happened in this one.

The Crimsons (15-11, 8-5), who already own the tournament third seed, went up 53-49 with 9:38 to play but then turned the ball over twice in the next minute and missed their next three 3-point attempts. The Quakers finally went ahead on a turnaround jumper by Stina Almqvist, then exchanged the lead for the next few minutes before another Harvard turnover set up Ese Ogbevire's game-turning three-point play with 1:19 to play to put Penn up 63-60.

The Quakers made the next four free throws to keep a three-point lead, then forced a missed 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.

"We lost a game at the buzzer at Brown where we didn’t show our ability to get some stops at the end," McLaughlin said. "They were able to get them winning plays throughout (tonight)."

Ogbevire finished with 14 points, eight in the final frame, while Jordan Obi led with 15, five rebounds and seven assists. Penn made 9 of 20 3-point shots.

St. Joseph's Laura Ziegler scored a career-high 27 points Saturday in a win against Duquesne. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL file)

St. Joe's WBB ties program record for wins

St. Joseph's women's basketball closed out the regular season with a 77-73 win at Duquesne and in the process tied the program for wins in a season with 26. 

The mark ties the 1996-97 team that went 26-5, earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round. This year's Hawks (26-4, 15-3, Atlantic 10) are currently among the "next four out" according to ESPN's Charlie Creme's bracketology but can earn a bid with a deep run in the A-10 Tournament starting next week.

SJU finished tied for second in the conference — Richmond (26-5, 16-2) won the regular-season title — and has a double-bye into the conference tournament, which begins Friday.

The last time the Hawks won the tournament was in 2013, when they beat Fordham 47-46.

Laura Ziegler scored a career-high 27 points (11 of 18 shooting) and finished with 12 rebounds for a double-double, and Mackenzie Smith dropped 24 (8 of 11) in the shootout victory. St. Joe's trailed 35-33 at the half and went on to make 15 of 26 from the field in the second half.

Drexel's Luke House scored a game-high 23 points Saturday against Northeaster. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL file)

Drexel MBB beats Northeastern for 20th win of season

For the 11th time in program history, Drexel men's basketball has won 20 games in a season.

The Dragons did so Saturday evening in the regular-season finale on senior night, routing Northeastern 73-59. The victory also clinched the second season in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. Drexel (20-11, 13-5) has won three straight and 13 straight at home, the longest such winning streak since 2011-12, which was also the last time it won 20 games.

Luke House scored a game-high 23 points and was 5 of 8 from 3-point land, and Lucas Monroe chipped in18 and nine rebounds. Yame Butler added 13 points and Amari Williams had 11.

Drexel shot 52.9% (27 of 51) from the field. 

Other Big 5 basketball results

  • Villanova men's basketball won its fifth in the last six games, overcoming a three-point halftime deficit to beat Providence 71-60 in Big East play. The Friars shot 53.9% in the first half, but the Wildcats (17-12, 10-8) held them to just 26.9% in the second and went on a 18-2 to start the second half and pull away for good. Justin Moore led Nova with 15 points, four assists and three rebounds. The Wildcats shot 56.5% (13 of 23) from 3-point territory. They have two more games next week before the Big East Tournament.
  • Temple men's basketball's three-game win streak ended at home on senior night, 72-67 to Tulsa. Hysier Miller tied a career high with five 3s and finished with a game high 19 points and four assists. Tulsa flew out to a 16-2 lead; the Owls (11-18, 4-12 American Athletic Conference) eventually got it to within a point, 68-67, in the final minute but could not finish the comeback. Jordan Riley scored 12 points for TU.
  • La Salle women's basketball closed out the regular season with a 93-83 win at Fordham thanks to big nights from Nicole Melious and Tiara Bolden. The pair combined to shoot 18 of 28, including 12 of 18 from 3, as Melious recorded a game-high 28 points and Bolden finished with 25 and eight boards. Emilee Tahata scored 14 and Molly Masciantonio 13. The Explorers (8-21, 3-11) will play Wednesday in the first round of the A-10 Tournament against UMass.
  • Nick Spinoso led the way with 23 points and nine rebounds as Penn men's basketball popped Columbia 84-72 in Ivy League action. Clark Slajchert added 22 points as the pair also dished out nine combined assists. It's just the Quakers' (10-17, 2-10) second win in the last 12 games. They close out the regular season on March 9 at home against league-leading Princeton.

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