Penn women’s basketball clinched the No. 2 seed in the Ivy League Tournament with its weekend sweep over Cornell and Columbia.
Here are some key takeaways from Penn’s weekend sweep as the Quakers look ahead to their semifinal game against No. 3 Yale next weekend.
Kennedy Suttle can succeed be a starter for Penn again
After starting junior Tori Crawford went down with an ankle injury last weekend, there were questions surrounding the forward position. Last Saturday, coach Mike McLaughlin took the unconventional route, playing without a true forward and opting to start senior center Emily Anderson instead. When Crawford was hurt at the beginning of the season, sophomore Kennedy Suttle started the first 14 games for the Quakers. During that stretch, Suttle averaged 4.9 points and and 5.0 rebounds, while also tallying her first career double-double in the game against Iona.
It had been over a month since Suttle had started a game for the Quakers, but so far she has proven that she can be successful in the starting lineup again. On Friday, she put up nine points, seven rebounds and a career-high four steals. She followed up that performance with four points and 10 rebounds against Columbia on Saturday. For Penn, Suttle was able to come out aggressive to get extra possessions for Penn, whether through rebounding or steals.
She was able to successfully fold right back into the lineup for Penn this weekend, but there is still at least one game left to be played for Penn, and the team will likely need Suttle’s contributions on the court to be successful.
Penn’s defense is there when their offense isn’t
Under McLaughlin, Penn is 116-2 when scoring at least 60 points. So it’s a pretty safe bet that when the Quakers surpass the 60-point mark, it is a guaranteed win in the books. But what about the nights that their offense struggles or when they’re up against a formidable defense and can’t get the 60 points they need? It all comes back to the Quakers’ defense. Penn is 13th in the nation — and second in the Ancient — in scoring defense, giving up only 54.1 points per game.
When Penn’s offense may have a rough game, the defense is right there to help secure a win. On Saturday against Columbia, freshman guard Kayla Padilla was the only Quaker to make it to double figures. Penn finished the night with 51 points, low by their standards; however, the Red and Blue's defense only gave up 36 points to the Lions, and 15 in the second half. The defense was able to shut down the Lions’ offense, on a night where their own offense couldn’t find a steady rhythm.
The team's future is in capable hands
For the past couple of years, seniors Kendall Grasela, Phoebe Sterba and Emily Anderson have been mainstays in the Quakers’ lineup. However, with their final game imminent, it’s time to look at the future for this team. The Red and Blue is going to be left in the hands of young talent, but that isn't necessarily a negative. Even now, Penn’s young stars are why the Quakers are going into the Ivy League Tournament as the No. 2 seed.
The young core starts with leading scorer Padilla, who will likely be Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and has been the center of Penn’s offense this season. The aforementioned Suttle has already proven to be an option at starting forward and has the potential to be a consistent starter going forward. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Mia Lakstigala has played in 21 games for the Quakers while shooting 51.1% from the field.
Regardless of how the season ends for the Red and Blue, the future is bright for Penn with their young core with strong potential.