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Penn-Washington Preview

Mar 19, 2016 - 12:16 AM (AP) - NCAA Tournament success is somewhat foreign to both Penn and Washington.

One of the two is about to experience a little March gladness.

It may be short lived considering a potential matchup with heavyweight Maryland waits in the wings, but either the seventh-seeded Huskies or 10th-seeded Quakers will win their first tournament game in a while - or in Penn's case, ever - Saturday in College Park.

It's been 10 years since Washington (22-10) won a tournament game, but three wins over ranked opponents - including a Pac-12 tournament victory over Stanford - has the Huskies back in the Big Dance for a second straight season.

They're hoping it goes better than last season's brief appearance. Washington was a sixth seed but fell to No. 11 Miami in the first round.

This team is seeded lower, but feels more accomplished. When they moved into the AP Top 25 in January, it was the Huskies' first ranking since 2003.

''Getting that recognition boosted our confidence and made us all more aware on the team of what we can accomplish and what we're capable of,'' said senior forward Talia Walton, who averages 15.7 points and 6.8 rebounds. ''We knew that we were there for a reason.''

Penn (24-4) is making its second appearance in three seasons as it looks for its first win. There's reason to believe the Quakers can compete - after all, for the first time ever, the Ivy League has two teams in after Princeton received an at-large bid.

Penn beat the Tigers twice and hung with then-No. 14 Duke in its season opener before blowing a fourth-quarter lead.

If the Quakers are to get their first tourney win, it'll likely come because of their defense. They're fifth among tournament teams in points per game allowed (51.6) and eighth in defensive field-goal percentage (34.5).

They'll have their hands full with Washington's Kelsey Plum, the nation's third-leading scorer at 26.2 point per game.

''We're hoping to contain her,'' Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said, ''not stop her.''

The Quakers could use a big game inside from 6-foot-3 forward Michelle Nwokedi, who averages team highs of 14.2 points and 9.6 rebounds. They're 16-1 when she scores at least 12 points.

The winner will have its hands full in Monday's second round, likely against second-seeded Maryland unless Iona can pull the upset.

Penn at least should be familiar with College Park. That's where the Quakers were sent in their appearance two years ago, a 79-61 loss to fifth-seeded Texas.

  • PENN: 53

    Mar 19 5:28 PM

  • PENN: 40
    4th Quarter - 7:46

    Mar 19 5:10 PM