Not only did the Quakers lead throughout, but they held the Eagles to 18.2 percent field goal shooting in the first quarter and 30.8 percent in the second.
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“We kind of let the last loss go, but we also tried to grow from it,” Russell said. “We’re not done yet. We want to keep on playing as long as we can. Definitely, we came out with some fire in the first half, and our defense showed that we came here to win.”
Penn coach Mike McLaughlin wasn’t surprised.
“They’re mentally and physically fatigued, but they found a way,” he said. “I don’t think [it was] anger. I think they want to play. ... I didn’t need to do anything."
There is one thing the Quakers aren’t happy about: having to go to Providence for Sunday’s second-round game (4 p.m., live video at friars.com). The WNIT turned down Penn’s bid to host and didn’t announce the decision until Friday night. So Penn had to get its travel plans together fast.
McLaughlin noted that the tournament’s organizers use attendance as a factor. Penn drew a larger crowd (867 fans, per the box score) than Providence did for its win over Hartford (368).
Fortunately, the Quakers have done this sort of thing before -- a lot, in fact, thanks to the Ivy League’s tradition of back-to-back games on weekends.
“The back-to-backs have taught us a lot, and we’re a lot better for it,” Russell said. “I think we’re really ready for this type of situation. ... Having one day in between is more than we’re used to.”
This will be Penn and Providence’s first ever meeting in women’s basketball. The Friars finished seventh in the Big East (18-15, 8-10) and lost to DePaul in the tournament quarterfinals. They are ranked No. 121 in the RPI, and Penn is No. 57.
Penn and Providence have played multiple common opponents: La Salle, Villanova, and Yale. Providence beat La Salle and Yale and split two games with Villanova; Penn beat La Salle, lost to Villanova, and swept two games with Yale.
The winner will play the winner of Sunday’s Harvard-Georgetown game, set for 3 p.m. at Harvard. The venue would again be decided based on the results.
No matter the location, a Penn-Harvard matchup would certainly get attention from a Quakers fan base still simmering over the Ivy League’s decision to stage next year’s conference tournaments at the Crimson’s 1,636-seat Lavietes Pavilion.