Penn women's basketball broke free from its losing streak today, dropping nearly 90 points and locking down its end of the court on defense.
In an unexpected inter-division matchup, Penn (5-7, 0-0) came out strong against Ursinus (2-7) for a much needed 89-29 win as it prepares for Ivy League play in the new year.
The Division III Bears were added to Penn’s schedule as a last-minute replacement for Morgan State, which had to bow out due to COVID-19 concerns. Penn had not played a game in 20 days and were looking to fit in one more match before the year’s end.
The Quakers dominated the first quarter despite struggling to put the ball in the net for the first three minutes. As soon as junior guard Mandy McGurk put Penn on the board with a steal and a layup, a game characterized by quality Quaker offense and frequent Ursinus turnovers began to take shape.
Senior forward Kennedy Suttle kicked off the second quarter with her fifth steal of the night, a career high, in just 11 minutes of play.
“Playing with more aggressive and intense defense has been a main focus this break,” Suttle said. “Based on how we played today, hopefully we can translate that into Ivy play.”
Today’s match highlighted results of persistence: Ursinus had 27 total turnovers against the Quakers’ tough defense, which capitalized by scoring 32 points off these opportunities.
The Bears ended the first half with five points with a scoreless second quarter.
Penn was able to score at will, both inside and from beyond the arc. Ursinus tried to lock down the paint in the second half, but the Quakers were hot from the outside. The third quarter began with three-pointers on three consecutive Penn possessions, from senior guard Nikola Kovacikova, then McGurk, and then sophomore forward Jordan Obi.
The Bears finally got on the board at the seven-minute mark, breaking a 39-0 scoring run for the Quakers, but it wasn’t enough. Penn’s momentum carried it through the third and fourth quarters.
Penn remained relentless through all four quarters, ending the game with a whopping 55% field goal percentage and 50 points in the paint. Just as important as its shooting accuracy, however, was its ability to create quality opportunities with all five players on the court. In recent games, the Quakers have struggled with a lopsided box score, often with two to three players scoring the vast majority of their points.
Folding in every player on the court has been a point of focus for the Quakers’ offense at practice.
“I think the fact that we shared the ball a lot better, and we assisted on a lot more field goals, are good signs,” head coach Mike McLaughlin said.
Every single Quaker got on the board today as Penn proved its depth, with bench players accounting for 52 of Penn’s 89 points.
“Any minutes that any of the younger players get, and even the veterans, is really going to help us in league play; especially with the situation we're all in with COVID, we have to have everyone prepared,” McLaughlin said.
Penn hopes to carry this momentum into the weekend as its heads to Providence to take on Brown (5-7, 0-0) this Sunday at 2 p.m. in its first Ivy League game of the season.