By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – An Ivy League champion will be crowned Tuesday night in women’s basketball.
No conference tournament in the Ivy League. It won’t come down to tie-breakers. Or strength of schedule. Or scoreboard watching. Instead it will be a good, old-fashioned, head-to-head showdown to end the regular season.
Penn will visit Princeton, the winner captures the Ancient 8 crown and heads to the NCAA Tournament. The loser has to settle for a WNIT bid.
Penn is 21-6, Princeton is 20-7. Both teams are 11-2 in the Ivy.
“This is what we’ve played for, what every team works for, particularly our group,” Penn head coach Mike McLaughlin tells KYW Newsradio. “We worked really hard to get to this point, only hoping that one day we would be able to have this opportunity. It’s right in front of us. We certainly have to play a really good Princeton team that has won our league the past four seasons, so we’re going to probably have to put our best game out there tonight. But what else could you ask for? You’re in a position to be able to do it. We have 40 minutes to be able to prove that we can win the Ivy League this year. Its a great exciting time. And as I told our players all week, I want them to live in the moment, enjoy the moment and hopefully capture the moment at the end of the day.”
This is McLaughlin’s fifth season as Penn’s head coach. The Quakers went 2-26 in his first. The following season a group of freshmen came in that really helped the turnaround that led to this game. That group is now seniors, a quartet led by guard Alyssa Baron, who is the second all-time leading scorer in program history.
“We asked them to help us create a culture and hopefully if we do enough things right, we’re able to help you and bring in some talented players and we’ll be in this position at some point,” McLaughlin says. “To be able to see that they are in this position, to be able to capture it, I think it’s a great credit to everything they’ve done for the program, both on and off the court, the way they’ve represented Penn. I think it’s something, when I look out there and watch them right now, I’m just super excited for them that they have this opportunity.”
Penn is looking for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004.
Princeton won the first match-up between these two teams back on January 11th, at the Palestra, 84-53.
Tonight’s game tips off at 5:30pm at Jadwin Gym on Princeton’s campus.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.