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12-20-19-wbb-vs-drexel-kayla-padilla

Freshman guard Kayla Padilla continued her red-hot start to the season through New Years', putting up 40 combined points for Penn women's basketball against Hawaii and Chaminade.

Credit: Son Nguyen

In the Quakers' first trip to Hawaii since the 2015-16 season, they celebrated the new year with two wins in paradise.

Penn women's basketball picked up a 70-55 win against Hawaii on Tuesday, and the Red and Blue kept the good times rolling into 2020 with a dominant 90-39 victory over Chaminade on Thursday. The Quakers’ two wins extend their unbeaten streak to six games as they build on the best start in program history. 

In its first game of the week, Penn (10-1) got off to a slow start, falling to a quick 9-3 deficit and missing 13 of their first 14 shots from the floor. However, the fortunes would change and the visitors ended the quarter on a 14-4 run.

The Rainbow Wahine (6-7) came close to closing the gap several times throughout the game, even cutting the lead down to six in the second quarter. However, the Quakers would keep their composure each time and go on a run of their own to widen the lead. 

Nursing a 14-point lead going into the locker room at halftime, Penn would not look back. Familiar faces starred for the Red and Blue, as freshman guard Kayla Padilla led the team with 23 points and junior center Eleah Parker dominated the paint with 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. The Quakers scored 36 points in the paint — over half of their total output on the day — while grabbing 27 rebounds on the defensive side of the ball.

After celebrating New Years' Day thousands of miles from home, the team went back to business on Thursday against Chaminade (2-9). Unlike the Hawaii game, Penn's encounter with the Silverswords was never close, with the struggling home side reduced to six players due to injury and illness. By the end of the first quarter, the Quakers had already jumped out to a 24-10 lead. Penn shot 55.6% from the field, and its 90 points were split among 14 players.

The 51-point win is the team’s largest margin of victory since beating Gwynedd Mercy by 64 points in January 2018. Once again, Padilla and Parker led the team with a combined 24 points and 9 rebounds. With an large lead from early on, the team was able to give large minutes to players who don’t usually get the opportunity. Sophomore guard Mia Lakstigala put up 15 points and a career-high four rebounds off the bench. In total, the bench had its best performance of the season with 53 points.

“Today was a chance to be able to play players that are really developing, so they’re not getting as many minutes now this year,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “They were invaluable minutes.”

While the two road wins helped the team's record, the trip also allowed them to grow closer as a team. After a break for the Christmas holiday, the team reunited in the Golden State and practiced at the Cal State Los Angeles gym. Padilla is from the area and her family hosted the team for a dinner. 

“My teammates here have become my family, so for them to meet my actual family in California and to have everyone meet each other was an awesome feeling,” Padilla said. 

The team also did not miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of everything that Hawaii had to offer. Given that the Philadelphia weather doesn’t allow for much time at the beach during the season, the team spent most of their time enjoying the beach. 

“It’s only my freshman year and we’re taking these great trips and [it's great to] just to be here and make memories with my teammates,” Padilla said. “It helps to be 2-0 on the road in such a great place and it’s a really great way to end the year and start off 2020.”

The Quakers will take their six-game winning streak back to the Palestra as they face off against Princeton to open Ivy League play next week. Last season, Penn shared the regular season title with the Tigers, and were bested by their rival once more in the Ivy League Tournament Championship.

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