Three and D was the name of the game for Penn.
But on a night where the shots didn’t fall for the Quakers, a healthy dose of three-pointers wasn’t enough to knock off No. 14 Duke at the Palestra, as the Quakers fell, 57-50.
Early in the fourth quarter, Penn (0-1) led, but Duke’s overwhelming speed and length stifled the Red and Blue offense as the Blue Devils (1-0) fought their way back.
Early on, the game was a defensive slugfest with both team’s having trouble finding the back of the net in the first quarter. Penn opened the game shooting 0-for-10 from three-point range, getting a number of good looks for sophomore forward Lauren Whitlatch and other shooters.
In spite of the struggle to score from deep, the Quakers still found themselves down by just seven after the first quarter as Duke committed 7 turnovers and shot just 30.8 percent against a tough defense that Penn coach Mike McLaughlin hopes will be a staple of the team this season.
By the end of the first half, things weren’t much better for either team offensively. Penn focused on the deep ball, finding a number of relatively open looks but struggling to convert. 18 of the Quakers’ first 31 shot attempts were from deep.
But at halftime, Penn’s fortunes changed. In the third quarter, Whitlatch caught fire. After missing all of her first-half shots, the sophomore forward lit up the court, knocking down five threes in the quarter to bring the Red and Blue close to, and eventually ahead of, the Blue Devils.
After scoring just 16 points in the first two quarters, the Quakers dropped 25 in the third, pulling ahead of Duke, 41-37, at the end of the frame.
In the fourth quarter, though, Duke brought back the pressure defense that Penn so commonly sees against top-ranked opponents. The offense began to stagnate, but the Quakers hung with Duke for the time being.
As the teams battled to the finish, the Blue Devils pulled ahead to hand the Quakers their first loss of the season.
Whitlatch and senior Kasey Chambers saw their first career starts against the Blue Devils, joining Michelle Nwokedi, Sydney Stipanovich and Anna Ross as the starting five for the Quakers.
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