Penn women’s basketball is on its hottest stretch of the season after extending its winning streak to seven with home wins over Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend. After starting the month at the bottom of the Ivy League standings, the Quakers now sit comfortably at second conference play.
Here are two of the biggest takeaways from Penn’s latest set of wins as the team looks forward to its toughest game left: against No. 25 Princeton on Tuesday.
Padilla and Parker are the one-two punch that Penn needs
Junior center Eleah Parker has been dominating the Ivy League for almost three years now. Meanwhile, freshman guard Kayla Padilla has already made herself known around the League in her rookie season. Despite their varying experience levels, both are vital pieces of Penn’s offense.
Parker and Padilla are the two steadies in Penn’s lineup. At the end of each win, it is almost a guarantee to see one, if not both, of the stars with a stuffed stat line. On Friday, it was Parker who led the way for the Quakers, with 24 points and 13 rebounds. The next day against Harvard, it was Padilla who dominated for the Red and Blue. She put up 23 points and five assists. Padilla also tied her career-high in three-pointers with six.
While Padilla was the star of Saturday’s game, Parker tallied her second consecutive double-double with 10 points and rebounds.
Parker’s presence inside the paint has been a large part of her game since the start of her collegiate career. Whether it’s bullying her way to the rim for a layup, fighting for a defensive rebound, or giving her team second chance opportunities with offensive rebounds, Parker makes a home at the rim. This season, Parker’s 54 blocks lead the Ivy League, while her 173 rebounds is third in the League.
One thing that makes Padilla special is her fearlessness. She doesn’t let her status as a freshman deter her; she has the same amount of confidence in herself as every other player on the court. She’s not afraid to drive to the basket as a 5-foot-9 freshman surrounded by six-footers. She’s not afraid to dive to the ground to fight for that extra possession.
Padilla’s fearlessness and Parker’s experience make them a dynamic duo, and nightmare for opposing teams.
Penn has what it takes to beat Princeton
On Tuesday, the Red and Blue have their most important and most anticipated game of the season so far. They will travel to face No. 25 Princeton, who currently hold the top spot in the Ivy League.
The Quakers are going to have a daunting task on their hands Tuesday night. The reigning Ivy League Tournament Champion Tigers have won 17 straight games and are undefeated in Ivy League play. Last month, the Quakers saw their worst loss of the season at the hands of Princeton.
So far this seems to forecast a loss for the Red and Blue, but that’s far from the truth.
Of course, the Tigers have their star senior guard Bella Alarie, who put up a 28-point and 12-rebound double-double on Saturday. However, the Quakers do not lack star power on their side either. As already mentioned, Padilla and Parker lead the way for the Quakers, but they aren’t alone.
Senior guard and captain Kendall Grasela may not put up the same numbers as Padilla and Parker, but she is the captain of the Quakers’ offense. She is the vocal leader on the court and sets up the offense for the Quakers. Her 98 assists lead the Ancient Eight and her presence is the key reason why Penn has had such offensive success.
More than anything, the Quakers have the confidence to beat Princeton. Penn has won seven straight games, all against Ivy opponents. With each win over this stretch, the Red and Blue’s confidence has been growing with each game. They’re coming out to fast starts, pushing the pace, and are being more aggressive on the 50-50 balls.
Tuesday’s game is bound to be the toughest and most important for the Quakers, but they’ll be ready for the challenge.