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Photo: Zach Sheldon

They’re back and (hopefully) better than ever.

Penn women’s basketball will be close to home for its Wednesday night showdown at La Salle.

This contest follows last week’s two-game trip to the Bahamas, where the Quakers (2-2) lost to Georgia Tech but responded the next day with an 18-point comeback win versus Missouri State.

Penn coach Mike McLaughlin hopes the group can return to Philadelphia a stronger unit after the voyage to Bimini.

“[This trip] can only help,” said McLaughlin, now in his ninth season as head coach for the Red and Blue. “I think we’re gonna carry this on; we showed unbelievable fortitude, and I think that will pay huge dividends.”

Wednesday’s matchup against La Salle (3-3) gives the Quakers an opportunity to build off of their gutsy victory. They also have a chance to avenge last year’s loss to their Big 5 rival, a game in which the Explorers mounted a comeback of their own to prevail in overtime.

Penn, which went 0-4 in Big 5 games last season, is still trying to figure out its identity, with newcomers Eleah Parker and Katie Kinum already making key contributions to a rotation led by seniors Anna Ross and Michelle Nwokedi.

For one, the Quakers would like to make smarter plays with the ball, as they’ve committed double-digit turnovers in all four of their games, including a staggering 20 giveaways in the Missouri State game. La Salle has been even sloppier handling the basketball, with 21.8 turnovers per game thus far.

This is a common tendency for teams early in the season, and Penn has time to gel as a unit before Ivy League play commences in January.

In the meantime, however, McLaughlin is certain of what improvements he wants to see against the Explorers.

“Better ball movement, better people movement without the ball, and not trying to do so much off the dribble,” McLaughlin said. “I think that will be a good thing for us.”

On the other side of the ball, the Red and Blue will be tasked with slowing down senior forward Amy Griffin and junior guard Adreana Miller, who lead La Salle in scoring with 14.3 and 13.7 points per game, respectively. In last year’s game, the duo combined for 40 of the team’s 58 points to put the Explorers on top.

Nwokedi, for her part, will seek a repeat performance, as she dropped 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the 2016 matchup versus La Salle.

The team will look to pick up right where it left off after Friday’s win in the Bahamas. After this game, Penn has a week and a half break from competition, with its next game coming on December 9 against No. 6 Notre Dame.

The Quakers believe that their recent trip has strengthened them as a squad — Wednesday’s game will be a good indication of whether or not this is true.

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