A strong St. Joe's squad pulled away from the Quakers late in the first half and did not look back. Although its win-loss record is moving in the wrong direction, the Penn women's basketball team still sees itself as moving forward. Penn's 69-50 loss to St. Joseph's (5-4, 3-0 Big Five) on Saturday at the Palestra did not dampen the Quakers' (1-6, 0-4) spirits, as they continue to make note of improvements in their play. "We ran our offenses better, we played more consistent defense and we shot our free throws well," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "Overall, we played hard for 40 minutes." The players agreed as a whole that they played well, but Penn simply lost to a better team with more offensive weapons. "They got the shots where they wanted them," Soriero said. Melissa Coursey led the Hawks with 19 points and got good looks at the basket throughout the game. Coursey three times drained three-pointers from the left side, her favorite shot. Although the Quaker defense was able to do a better job guarding her in the second half, she had already found a shooting groove. The first half of play was even between the two schools. By the end of the first 20 minutes both teams had 15 rebounds apiece and field goal percentages hovering around 40 percent. The only uneven statistic was in the three-point category, as St. Joe's had five to the Quakers' two. That accounted for the 36-26 lead that the Hawks took into the locker room at the break. Though they never led in the first half, the Quakers kept it close throughout, cutting the St. Joe's lead to two with 11 minutes to go and three with three minutes left in the opening stanza. That margin, however, was the closest the Quakers would come to the Hawks, who have won all 24 of the meetings between the two teams. The second half saw St. Joe's pull away. Penn shot only 29 percent from the field, just half of St. Joe's 58 percent. "We hit one of our notorious scoring lapses midway through the second half," Penn co-captain Mandy West said. "We did delay it, because usually we hit one right before the end of the first half, but we still stopped scoring for a long time." Nonetheless, Soriero is quick to point out that while Penn did lapse offensively, the team did a good job of playing strong defense and keeping the game within reach. "We need to learn to make stops and generate offense from our strong defense," Soriero said. "But if we're not getting the offense, it's even more important that we play tough defense." One of the reasons that the Quakers might not be getting the offensive production is due to a switch in the backcourt. Starting with last weekend's game against La Salle, Soriero moved Erin Ladley to shooting guard and West to point guard, a position she has not played since high school. "The change will give our offense more of a boost," Soriero said. That statement may prove true in the long run, but West scored far below her season average in the two games since the change. Entering the La Salle game with a 20.2 average, West scored a total of 28 points against the Explorers and Hawks. Her shot attempts have also decreased, as she only attempted 11 field goals on Saturday. Nevertheless, with West playing the point, the Quakers' goal of a balanced offense has proved more tangible. Against St. Joe's, Diana Caramanico led all scorers with 21, Ladley posted 12 and Liz Alexander had five. "The change will not have an effect on my scoring overall," West said. "As the season progresses and I get more comfortable, I'll be able to score more." Soriero added that the Quakers have added two or three offensive sets to their scheme to help create more open looks for West. "It is hard to judge how the switch will effect us against a team like the Hawks," West said. "They are probably the best team we'll play all year. They have great players and a great coach, so it was hard for me to get an open look at the basket all day." Regardless of the caliber of play that the Quakers face, they do not seem intimidated by their opponents. "The team always focuses on the next game, not the last game," Soriero said. "I'm happy with the things I'm seeing, we just need to be more consistent with them."Comments powered by Disqus
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