On Homecoming Saturday, Penn women’s basketball unveiled its 2019 Ivy League championship banner. Then the Quakers spent the next few hours dominating on the court.
In a 92-44 win over Siena, the Quakers coasted from beginning to end in a complete team win to open the season. Fluid offense and stifling defense defined the Penn performance.
Unlike last season’s 58-51 win at Siena (0-2), the final result this time around was almost never in question, with the Quakers (1-0) up 20-2 with 4:25 left in the first quarter.
The Red and Blue were led offensively by first team All-Ivy junior center Eleah Parker. Penn’s defensive ace scored the Quakers' first seven points of the contest, including a step-back three-pointer that brought the crowd to its feet. The junior finished the game with 21 points and five rebounds. On the other end, it took Siena until 3:46 left in the first quarter to score its first basket from the field.
“It really started with our guards being aggressive attacking the basket, just drawing the defenders,” Parker said. “I was able to stay low and get those easy buckets.”
After the first half, Parker had as many points as the entire Siena team, with the Quakers holding a commanding 57-17 lead.
The game was won down low. Led by Parker, Penn scored 48 points in the paint compared to Siena's 22. Those opportunities down low led to frequent trips to the foul line, where Penn tacked on an additional 20 points. Another indication of Penn's success at the rim is the rebounding margin, which Penn won comfortably with 53 relative to just 35 rebounds won by the Saints.
Parker’s dominance does not come as a surprise. However, what is apparent after the first game of the season is that a new playmaker has entered the fold. Freshman guard Kayla Padilla finished the game with 14 points and two assists.
“She has a swag about her and I think it’s very internal and what drives her,” Parker said of Padilla.
“She came to Penn ready to play. She brings a different dynamic that we haven’t had in a while,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “She can make a play for herself, get to the basket, she can shoot the three. She’s tough to guard but she’s really selfless.”
Joining Padilla as a first time starter was sophomore forward Kennedy Suttle, who missed most of the final half of the season last year with an injury. In her first game action since January, the sophomore paced the team with eight rebounds to go along with six points.
Off the bench, Penn was led by junior guard Michae Jones and sophomore guard Mia Lakstigala, who each finished in double figures with 10 points and 18 points, respectively. In all, 11 players scored for the Quakers.
As a team, the Quakers shot 48.5% from the field and 29.6% from deep. Penn held Siena to 23.5% shooting from the field and 14.3% shooting from three-point range.
McLaughlin was pleased with his team’s all-around performance and feels it could be solid springboard for the rest of the season.
“What I was really excited for was how we came out. It’s a new season with a lot of basketball ahead of us,” McLaughlin said. “But it’s really nice to come out on the floor and play with a great deal of confidence.”
Looking ahead, Penn’s next game is on Nov. 13 against NJIT before hosting Iona on Nov. 17.
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