On Tuesday, heavy snowfall made travel on roads throughout the Philadelphia area particularly treacherous. Similarly, Penn women’s basketball has had a tough road to navigate, starting with the beginning of the month.
And on Wednesday, the Quakers (8-5, 1-2 Big 5) will look to overcome another obstable and end their three-game losing streak on the road against city-rival Temple.
Penn has already faced a series of tough opponents this month, including Villanova, Princeton and St. Joseph’s in its past three games. Coach Mike McLaughlin contends the main culprit for his team’s recent struggle to pick up a win is the quality of the competition the Quakers have faced, a trend that will continue against the Owls (10-7, 1-2).
“This is a difficult stretch where we’re playing high-level competition,” McLaughlin said. “These are challenging teams that can score the ball with very talented players.”
Penn’s losing streak has also largely masked the fact that they were very much within striking distance to win two of those games.
In fact, if not for a late missed shot against Villanova and a few questionable foul calls versus St. Joe’s, the Quakers could easily have gone 2-1 in that stretch.
With this in mind, McLaughlin seems confident that the best plan of action moving forward is to encourage his players to maintain and improve upon the style of play they have used all season.
This largely includes the play of senior guard Alyssa Baron, who has transitioned into one of the team’s key distributors after serving as its dominant scoring threat over the past couple of years.
“She is going to get her shots, but I like the way she’s doing it,” McLaughlin said. “She’s looking for her teammates.”
Additionally, with the emergence of freshman center Sydney Stipanovich and the continued solid play of junior forwards Kara Bonenberger and Katy Allen, Penn will continue to focus on its frontcourt players.
However, the Red and Blue do have some adjustments to make, especially regarding the play of the frontcourt. After seeing Stipanovich and Bonenberger foul out against St. Joe’s, McLaughlin has encouraged his star post players to play smart basketball.
“They need to understand situations … and use their arms correctly,” McLaughlin said. “Little things like that.
“We need them both to play, especially Sydney needs to play more than 17 or 18 minutes for us.”
Following three tough losses and one particularly emotional contest against Big 5 rival St. Joe’s, Wednesday certainly could be a ‘letdown’ game for the Quakers. Still, McLaughlin has maintained that his team remains focused on the task at hand despite recent disappointing results.
“I haven’t seen [any letdowns] in practice, and they haven’t responded that way all year,” McLaughlin said.
Penn will be forced to overcome more than just its own mental obstacles to manage a win against the Owls, as it will face a challenging Temple team coming off of two straight wins.
“Temple is a very athletic team,” McLaughlin said. “We are going to have to keep the ball in front of us … and really minimize our mistakes.”
The Quakers will also have the challenge of traveling in less than ideal weather conditions, but McLaughlin remains confident that, much like this tough scheduling stretch, his team will fight through.
“These kids are resilient. That’s what makes them special,” McLaughlin said. “It won’t deter them.”
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