Penn women’s basketball (3-0, 0-0 Ivy) capitalized on its momentum on Thursday evening, winning 63-46 on the road against St. Francis Brooklyn (1-3).
Despite great defensive performances from both teams, the Quakers’ offense was able to secure the victory thanks to outstanding performances from junior Kayla Padilla and seniors Kennedy Suttle and Nikola Kovacikova.
The first quarter began with a three-pointer from Padilla; the Quakers would lead for the rest of the game. Great defensive pressure, paired with seven points from Kovacikova, maintained the team's margin. Suttle quickly established her presence in the paint — registering seven rebounds in the first 10 minutes of action.
“Rebounding has always been a great way to give the team energy,” Suttle said. “Focusing on that from game to game and knowing my role can really help the offense.”
However, despite trailing, St. Francis was able to keep the matchup fairly close. The Terriers were led by forward and former NEC Rookie of the Year Fruzsina Horvath, who scored seven points to help bring the first quarter score to 14-10.
Both teams roughly doubled their score in the second quarter, but Penn maintained a firm grasp on the contest. The team’s defensive effort allowed the Red and Blue to contain the Terriers to a 21-point half. The Quakers entered halftime with a seven-point lead, with Kovacikova and Padilla combining for 18 of the team’s 28 points. Despite a field goal percentage of 34% in the first half, the team shot four for eight from behind the arc.
“Our three-point shooting and offensive rebounding can really help us moving forward,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “All five kids on the floor can shoot for three, and that can be a great weapon for us. We really practice on it, and we’ll continue to do so.”
Although Penn kept the lead, turnovers marred the offense in the first half; the team totaled eight of them heading into the third quarter. However, the Quakers would go on to only have seven more in the second half.
Despite foul trouble in the third quarter, which saw breakout sophomore Jordan Obi benched early in the quarter, the Quakers began to move even further ahead, ending the period with a 12-point lead. Padilla made contested layups and three-point shots, and Suttle made an exciting circus play when she made a layup in the paint by throwing the ball over her head. The defense continued to stifle the Terriers' offense, as the team only shot 13% from the field in the third quarter.
McLaughlin was quick to point out, however, that some of the low completion came from a high volume of open three-pointers that just weren’t made.
“We were fortunate because there were some shots that they could’ve made, but we can adjust to work on that,” McLaughlin said. “We want to have a better answer when they have four on the perimeter.”
The Quakers continued to run away with the game in the fourth quarter. By the end of the match, Padilla had scored 23 points on 7-16 shooting and 5-8 from beyond the arc. With Kovacikova shooting 4-8 for threes to score 18 points, the team’s three-point percentage was an efficient 45%. Kovacikova also led both teams with six assists.
“It really opens up our offense,” Padilla said about the team’s efficiency at the perimeter. “We have threats all across the court, but having good shooting really spreads the defense out more and creates more opportunities to score.”
In the performance of the game, Suttle achieved her third career double-double with 11 points and 17 rebounds. McLaughlin made note of Suttle’s offensive rebounding, citing it, as well as the efficient three-point shooting, as central factors in the win.
“We weren’t as efficient as we could be,” McLaughlin said about the win. “We had a lot of perimeter scoring — not so much on the inside — some foul trouble, but Kennedy’s rebounding played a key part in the win. Kayla made some difficult great shots as well. We found a way, and that’s a hard thing to do on the road. It wasn’t the cleanest, but we came away with the win.”
Penn will face Villanova (1-2) on Monday before traveling to Los Angeles next weekend for the LMU Thanksgiving Classic, where the Red and Blue will face UC San Diego (2-2) and Memphis (3-1).
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