The dominance continues for the Red and Blue.
After a resounding win over NJIT on Wednesday, Penn women’s basketball kept its foot on the gas by rolling over Iona with a 74-42 win on Sunday at the Palestra. The win was the Quakers' third straight to start the season, which marks the first time in program history that they’ve gotten off to a 3-0 start.
Penn’s aggressiveness is what allowed it to dominate in this one. From the opening tipoff, the Red and Blue (3-0) out pressure on Iona (1-2) on both sides of the ball.
They took advantage of strong work on the offensive glass, which gave them several second chance opportunities off of misses. In total, the Quakers tallied 18 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points. Sophomore forward Kennedy Suttle led the way for the Quakers in the rebound department, with a career high 11 rebounds.
“We really put an emphasis on making sure that we attack every ball and making sure we don’t leave any of those 50-50 balls,” senior guard Phoebe Sterba said. “We always try to do the little things and make sure we don’t regret them at the end of the game.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Red and Blue forced Iona to commit 24 turnovers, and they were able to convert those takeaways into 22 points. A large part of this defensive success was Penn’s season-high 13 steals.
One instance of this defensive pressure was in the second quarter, when senior guard Kendall Grasela picked up a steal and quickly dished it out to freshman guard Kayla Padilla. Padilla then tossed it to Sterba, who converted the fast break layup, putting the Quakers up, 27-13. Clearly rattled, Iona turned the ball over on the next possession, as Penn went on a 10-point scoring run to end the half.
Padilla continued to build on her solid freshman campaign, totaling 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists on Sunday. Meanwhile, Sterba has been a mainstay in Penn’s offense for four years, and today was no different, as she totaled a game-high 17 points. After a season-ending injury last season, Suttle picked up her first double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“Having [Suttle] start a game was really, really cool for her, and I think she really needed it, too,” Sterba said.
While their offense was a large part of their success, their defense’s ability to silence the Gaels’ stars is what shined the most. They were able to hold senior guard Morgan Rachu to only five points, while sophomore guard Shyan Mwai tallied 12. This is after the duo combined for 43 points in Iona's last game.
“We did a really good job on [Mwai and Rachu]. We played the way we play, we were just more aware of what they like to do,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We set the tempo pretty quickly, and stayed the course.”
From the first quarter, the Gaels never looked comfortable, and they were never able to get anything going on offense. Penn held the lead for all but 1:39 in the first quarter. The Quakers found their home in the paint, outscoring Iona, 50-14, down low, and picked up 44 rebounds.
“Any time a defense can control an offense, that’s when you’ll see an uncomfortable offense,” McLaughlin said. “That’s the key: for our defense to try to keep the other team off balance with some things that we do and changing what we do.”
Penn will look to continue its dominance and aggressive play as the team travels across town to kick off Big 5 play against St. Joseph's on Wednesday.