It wasn't the most humiliating defeat. It wasn't even their poorest
performance. But after the Quakers lost their fourth straight game on
Saturday night - 78-72 to Princeton - women's basketball coach Pat
Knapp sat in the press room looking utterly dejected.
"A very, very disappointing loss," Knapp said of the game that
dropped his team to 4-8 and 0-1 in Ivy League play. The team lost four
of its five games over break.
Suppressing the sheer disappointment of the evening's outcome,
Penn's coach could only articulate a commendation to senior guard Joey
Rhoads, who tallied her 1000th career point early in the contest.
"The only statement I have is I want to congratulate Joey on her
1000th point," Knapp said. "It's an honor to coach her. She works hard
every day and every game. She deserves it. I know she wants to win more
The 5-foot-4 Rhoads, who entered the game just five points shy of
the milestone mark, could not have looked more distraught, despite her
"To be honest, I'm not really thinking about that," Rhoads said. "It
hurts to lose to Princeton, especially when we were right there and we
didn't convert on a lot of plays."
Rhoads' team-high 24 points were not enough to help Penn win its Ivy League opener.
Princeton's Ali Prichard set the tone 17 seconds into the game,
draining a three-pointer to give the Tigers a lead they would never
Princeton continued to kill the Quakers from behind the arc, making
six three-pointers in the first half for ten on the evening to quickly
build a double-digit lead.
Princeton led by as many as 13, but a three-pointer by Kimberly
Franklin sparked an 8-0 run for Penn, cutting the deficit to a
respectable 42-35 by halftime.
After opting not to take warm-up shots before the second half, the
Quakers emerged from the locker room, made adjustments and made a game
of it. Yet every time Penn rallied to put the contest within reach,
Princeton crushed the host's hopes with a clutch shot.
A minor victory for Penn was the offensive output from players not
named Rhoads or Naltner. Senior Lauren Pears scored in double figures
with 10 points, and four players from the bench combined for 15 points.
"When we go to the bench we need better production," Knapp had
stressed earlier last week following a game at Xavier. "All of them
have to lock in, focus in, and know the plays, make the right
decisions. Our starting five kids can play well for a while, but we
need to sustain it."
Sustaining quality basketball for 40 minutes has been a problem for
Penn all season and was especially noticeable in the five games during
Penn 60, Drexel 57
Penn began the break with a hard-fought 60-57 win against the Dragons for the Quakers first win at the Palestra this season.
Penn took the lead early in the first half, but Drexel was able to
come back and overtake the Quakers by three. The Dragons closed the
half up by one point.
In the second, Penn took the lead once more, but Drexel was always right there - the Quakers never led by more than five.
Rhoads shot 10-16 from the floor to compile a career-high 28 points. Monica Naltner added 19 points and seven rebounds.
Maggie Burgess was a rare third double-digit scorer with 11 in the win.
Temple 68, Penn 49
While the win against Drexel provided hope, last year's Big 5 champ
quickly quashed the Quakers spirits. Although only six points separated
the inner-city rivals at halftime, Penn lost by a significant 68-49
margin, remaining winless at 0-2 in Big 5 play.
Rhoads led the Quakers with 15 points, while the Owls' Kamesha Hairston - the Big 5 Player of the Week - led with 25.
Loyola 75, Penn 63
Two days later, Penn closed out 2006 with a visit to Loyola. Like
the Princeton game, Penn dug itself into an insurmountable hole.
Naltner's third double-double of the season (16 points and 11 rebounds)
was not enough to help the Quakers overcome an early scoring outburst
by the oppostion and they lost 75-63.
"We can't dig ourselves into a hole in the beginning," Rhoads said.
Xavier 72, Penn 51
In their first game of 2007, Penn took part in a pre-arranged
homecoming - to Naltner's hometown of Cincinnati to play Xavier. It was
a game of two acts, as Penn entered halftime tied at 33, then
completely folded down the stretch, ultimately being blown out 72-51.
"We've got to be tougher," Knapp said following the loss. "I'm sick
and tired of playing teams like Temple and Xavier and playing well for
30 minutes and then [our] kids fold. We need to finish out games."
Sophomore forward Carrie Biemer gave herself an unexpected 20th
birthday present. She came off to bench to lead all Penn scorers with
16 points over 18 minutes, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Despite the loss, Naltner basked in a supportive crowd away from her home court.
"It was incredible," Penn's star forward said. "There were a lot of
people there, a lot of my friends, any people along the way that have
had interest. It was overwhelming how many people came and supported
Penn remains one win shy of matching last year's win total of five.
The team now looks to Friday, when they will try to even their Ivy
League record against Cornell. The Quakers will also host Columbia on
While Ivy competition is generally perceived as weaker, Knapp has repeatedly warned his team to not let their guard down.
"Anyone saying Ivy League games are easier than the
[out-of-conference] games prior to that are sadly mistaken, and we have
stressed that to [the team] this week."