Basketball season is back at the Palestra, but for a change, it was Penn women’s basketball that had a chance to lift the curtain on the Cathedral of Basketball for 2013.
However, St. Francis (NY) would spoil the Quakers’ first moment on the big stage this season.
Junior forward Katy Allen scored the first points in a taut game with numerous lead changes and momentum swings, but the Terriers (1-0) would ultimately have the last laugh, defeating Penn (0-1), 56-51 and snapping Penn’s seven-game winning streak in the matchup.
“I’m disappointed in the result. I just didn’t think we did enough to win,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We had some periods where we played well. We had a six point lead on them and they made a couple shots, and I don’t think we responded as well as we will need to going forward.”
Although the Quakers held the Terriers to under 60 points, the Red and Blue could never produce enough offense to pull away, costing them in the end. Penn closed the first half on an 11-2 run with 3:30 remaining to take a one point lead at the break.
But the second half remained tight, and both teams exchanged leads several times throughout the second half.
“The bottom line is we struggled to score. You’ve got to be able to score more than 50 points,” McLaughlin said.
Both teams shot woefully in the game. The Terriers shot 37.3 percent from the field while the Quakers made just 35.1 percent of their shots.
But Penn’s three-point shooting may have been the biggest reason for their struggles. The team made just 2-21 from long range for a horrendous 9.5 percent clip.
“2-21, you’re not going to win a whole lot of games, I understand that, but I don’t think it was any one reason,” McLaughlin said. “We had some open looks, and we usually make them. We’ll have to find ways when that happens again, if we don’t shoot the ball well, then we’ll still find a way to win. And we’re not quite there yet, to make that happen.”
Allen and freshman center Sydney Stipanovich led the team with 12 points each. Stipanovich shot 5-6 from the field with four rebounds, one block, and one assist. Senior guard Alyssa Baron scored nine points with five rebounds and three steals.
Stipanovich still believes that the Quakers took good shots, even if they failed to convert most of them.
“For the most part we took good shots … Sometimes it’s not your night,” she said. “I think, for the most part, our shots were good which was positive because you have those games where you’re two for whatever we were … And half of them are bad. I feel like the majority of them … were really good looks.”
Freshman guard Melanie Lockett added six points, three rebounds, and three assists for the Quakers, a solid showing in her collegiate debut.
“I thought Melanie did some really good things,” McLaughlin said. “She got over her the little jitters in the beginning … She opened up the lane for a bunch of other players … She did a nice job.”
The Terriers ultimately pulled away with a 14-7 run in the final five minutes of the contest.
Penn cut the lead to five with late steals and a three-point basket, but it was not enough to overcome the Terriers, who converted seven of nine free throws in the second half. Junior guard Eilidh Simpson scored 13 points for the Terriers and had a game-high nine rebounds. Junior forward Jaymee Veney led the game in scoring with 14 points.
With the loss, Penn will have two weeks to improve before hosting powerhouse Notre Dame at the Palestra on November 23.
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