- Associated Press - Sunday, March 12, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - For the second time in a week, Penn got to cut down the nets on its home court to celebrate a championship.

This time it got them a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Anna Ross scored 17 points and Michelle Nwokedi added 15 to help Penn beat Princeton 57-48 on Sunday and win the inaugural Ivy League Tournament.

“It’s been a tremendous ride with this team,” Quakers coach Mike McLaughlin said. “It’s a celebration they’ll remember forever. We were fortunate enough to win three of four, this one is special since we’re on our court. It’s something they’ll cherish forever.”

The Quakers normally would have wrapped up the conference’s automatic bid a few weeks ago as they went 13-1 in league play, but the Ivy ended its holdout as the lone Division I conference without a postseason tournament this year. The Quakers did celebrate the regular season title after a victory over Princeton on Tuesday in the conference finale.

Penn (22-7) led 15-14 after one quarter before turning up their defense. The Tigers went scoreless for nearly the first 9 minutes of the second quarter, missing their first 14 shots of the period.

“We stood around. We have one quarter a game where we don’t trust each other,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said. “The ball died in people’s hands.”

Penn scored 12 points during that stretch with the last five coming from Nwokedi, who earned the tournament’s most outstanding player honors. The Quakers led 29-18 at the half and scored 11 of first 14 in the third quarter to put the game away.

Princeton (16-13) tried to rally in the fourth, getting to within 55-48 in the final minute, but could get no closer.

Now Penn will head back to the NCAAs trying to win its first tournament game. The Quakers lost in the opening round last year to Washington.

Bella Alarie scored 11 to lead the Tigers (16-13), who will head to the WNIT.

“The longer we play the better, more games we get under our wing, the better we’ll get,” Banghart said.

BIG PICTURE:

Princeton: The Tigers earned the conference’s first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last season. They’ll have to settle for the WNIT this season. … Sophomore Jordan Muhammad, who is the daughter of former NFL player Muhsin Muhammad, knelt during the national anthem. She along with teammate Vanessa Smith do it every game.

Penn: The Quakers will be looking to win their first NCAA game. They lost to Texas in 2014. … Nwokedi was the league’s player of the year in the regular season.

EXPERIENCED QUAKERS:

“We can compete with any team placed in front of us,” Nwokedi said of their chances in the NCAAs. “Last year, Washington and Kelsey Plum we came into the game thinking we’re the underdogs, I think we gave them a run for their money.”

UP NEXT:

Princeton: Awaits WNIT bid.

Penn: Awaits NCAA Tournament seed.

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