michelle_nwokedi

Senior forward Michelle Nwokedi dominated on both sides of the ball, recording six blocks on defense and putting up 16 points on offense.

Photo: Chase Sutton

Penn women's basketball rounded out Penn Athletics' triple-header with a 55-42 win over Lafayette for its first victory of the year. Senior forward Michelle Nwokedi led the way for the Red and Blue (1-1) with her 34th career double-double, and Penn's defense held Lafayette to just 25 percent shooting. Here are a few takeaways from the game.

Penn has a deep bench that it can trust

This is one of the most talented and deep rosters the Quakers have had in years, and coach Mike McLaughlin knows it. McLaughlin went to his bench early and often today, and his decisions paid off: the Quakers had 18 points off the bench. All 11 players who saw the court recorded points, and four different bench players recorded double-digit minutes. But the biggest indication that McLaughlin trusts his bench is this: sophomore Kendall Grasela and junior Princess Aghayere were on the court for almost the entirety of the fourth quarter. The fact that McLaughlin can rely on his bench this early in the season is a big strength for this team.  

Michelle Nwokedi and Eleah Parker make a fearsome duo on defense

When they are on the court at the same time, Nwokedi and Parker make it extremely tough for teams to score in the paint. The pair combined for a total of seven of Penn's nine blocks, and helped limit the Leopards to just 10 points in the paint.  At 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4 respectively, they have the height to dominate most guards trying to drive and the strength to battle with other teams' bigger players. With the perimeter defense struggling a bit early in the season, Nwokedi and Parker provide Penn with a consistent presence on the inside.

Katie Kinum has a lot of potential

Everyone knew Parker was going to come in and have an immediate impact as a freshman, but Katie Kinum might as well. The guard from New Providence, N.J. logged 12 minutes, during which she had three points, two rebounds, and an assist. But that underscores how well she played. She was pesky on defense, always moving and getting in the way, and she helped the Quakers force multiple turnovers. 

"I wanted to get Katie Kinum an opportunity, I thought she did a good job at times," McLaughlin said.

There are definitely things Kinum can work on — she missed a few open shots — but with a little more experience, she can play a vital role on this team moving forward.

Penn needs to learn how to box out

Keeping their opponents off the offensive glass was one of the Quakers' biggest weaknesses last year, and it looks like it might be a problem again this year. The Red and Blue gave up 11 offensive rebounds, and many of those were due to poor positioning by the Quakers. Too often Lafayette's players had the inside spot or an uncontested rebound, and several times the ball came out past the post, and Penn was slow to get there.

"It's not a matter of just the post, getting the easy ones in inside, it's a matter of all five to the glass... so I think if we get the mindset of everyone crashing the glass we'll be good," Nwokedi said.

Lafayette didn't capitalize too much on its second chance opportunities, but better teams will, which is why the Quakers need to improve in this area.

The offense has to be more consistent in order for Penn to succeed

The Red and Blue's offense struggled today: the Quakers shot 28 percent from the floor, and just 17 percent from beyond the arc. But that's not the performance they had in their season opener, where they shot 40 percent and put up 72 points. If the Quakers can get both the quality shooting that they are capable of plus the stout defense they had today, then they will be a force to reckon with. They just need to be able to perform like that day in and day out.

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