Sometimes a rough start to a season can discourage a team.
Penn women’s basketball now faces a test of morale after falling to Army on Sunday, 58-53. The Quakers have now dropped their first three games of the season.
“It was really the seven-minute stretch between 12 minutes left and five minutes left that was the difference in the game,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said.
For Army (3-1), Olivia Schretzman led the scoring with 18 points. Aimee Oertner added 12 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks for the Black Knights.
One season removed from the best 10-game start in program history, the Quakers (0-3) find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Last season, Penn defeated Army at home, 70-60.
“No one wants to be 0-3 and when you look at each game, we had a chance to win each game,” McLaughlin said. “We’re a little disappointed we didn’t get at least one of these.”
The Red and Blue have had opportunities to win every game this year — their losses have come by an average of fewer than six points per game.
McLaughlin said at the beginning of the season that the team’s focus would be finding third and fourth scoring options to complement leading scorers Alyssa Baron and Kara Bonenberger. The emergence of freshman Keiera Ray seems to have answered who will be the third option for the Quakers.
Ray led all scorers with 21 points against Army. Junior Alyssa Baron added 11 points and 11 rebounds to record the only double-double of the game for Penn.
Ray’s 21 point-performance was a career high after she averaged 10 points per game over the first two games of the season. Baron’s double-double is her first of the season after having two last season.
“Alyssa and I did whatever we could to get the team going,” Ray said. “It’s a team effort.”
The Quakers will have to endure the bitter taste of defeat for a while, as they won’t get another shot to pick up their first win until Nov. 30 against La Salle.
That matchup will be another difficult test for the Red and Blue, who have dropped six of their last seven against the Explorers. Five of those losses came by double-digit margins.
“We just have to stay focused and we have to get better,” Ray said about the break between games.
Although the record may not be what the team was hoping for, there’s still plenty of basketball to be played before the Ivy season gets underway on Jan. 12.
And despite the rough start, McLaughlin’s squad is learning from the defeats.
“We’ve got some good things to carry on from this point on,” McLaughlin said.
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