Coming off a 51-point win against Chaminade in Hawaii, Penn women's basketball hoped to continue its winning streak at the Palestra against No. 25 Princeton on Saturday.
The Ivy League opener didn’t go as planned — the Quakers were dominated in the second half, losing to the Tigers by a score of 75-55.
“It was super exciting," freshman guard Kayla Padilla said. "Our Ivy play is one thing, but to play with our rivals, Princeton, is another. That was all the talk in this last week with the team, and they really expressed how intense and competitive the atmosphere was, and it lived up to the experience."
The Tigers (13-1, 1-0 Ivy) came out of the gates strong, going on a 6-0 run to open the game, and the Quakers (10-2, 0-1) had to play catch up all game long. The Red and Blue kept themselves in the game, going on their own 7-0 run at the end of the first quarter to briefly take the lead, 16-15. Immediately after, Princeton responded with a buzzer-beating three to take an 18-16 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The start of the second quarter was more of the same, with neither team able to break away and the lead changing four times throughout the first half. Much of the success was due to Padilla putting the team on her back, letting the Red and Blue only trail by a score of 33-30 at halftime.
“[Padilla] is super in all ways, [especially] her approach to the game," coach Mike McLaughlin said. "10-for-14 [shooting] against that level of competition, and they are keying on her, trying to take the ball out of her hands. To be that efficient at that age, she was fatigued at the end. We played her a lot maybe too much, but she is really, really special," he continued.
The Red and Blue came out slow after the half, allowing the Tigers to sink their claws in and build a massive lead that the Quakers were unable to break. At one point, the Tigers led by as many as 17 and went on a 10-0 run.
“We had good energy and competitive spirit in the first half, but I think we let our guard down in the second half, and that was when Princeton made their biggest push,” Padilla said.
Princeton entered the fourth quarter with a comfortable 54-42 lead that they built upon, with 10 points coming from inside the paint and five points from second chances. At the end of the fourth quarter, Princeton built their lead to as many as 21.
“I give them a lot of credit," McLaughlin said. "They really went at the ball, and I honestly don’t think we did a great job of putting [our bodies] on anyone. ... We just put ourselves in a really difficult spot."
The Quakers will try to bounce back from this disappointing loss to their rivals with a game on Wednesday against Villanova in Big 5 play.
"We will get a break here in terms of League play," McLaughlin said. "We have Villanova and Temple for a chance to win the Big 5. We will be okay. This was a good basketball game for the most part. We just came up a little short."
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