The Quakers couldn’t get the offense going on Friday night, falling to the Bucknell Bison (6-2) in a 62-46 loss. The game was their biggest loss of the season and their third straight since their 4-1 start to the season. Penn has been marred by turnovers, as well their ongoing roster issues due to suspensions.
“There was a lot of inexperience, and some players haven’t played a lot,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “Being thrust into that position can be difficult.”
However, some of these less experienced Quakers (4-2) came away with big games. Freshman forward Sima Visockaite played 30 minutes off the bench and registered her first double-double in one of her first games, scoring a team-leading 14 points and catching 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Michaela Stanfield also registered new career highs on the night, recording 10 points and two steals. Sophomore forward Jordan Obi, a two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week this season who has totaled six double-doubles in eight games, scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds.
“Our younger players can hopefully take their experience in these games and bring that with them for the rest of the year and even into the following ones,” McLaughlin said.
Penn opened the game with a wild possession in which the team was able to take six shots and a record five offensive rebounds. Unfortunately for the Quakers, none of them were converted into points. The Red and Blue ran into some foul trouble early, registering three of them in the first minute; they ended up having two more for the rest of the quarter.
Bucknell's Taylor O’Brien kicked off the game’s scoring with a made free throw. After a couple of possessions, senior guard Niki Kovacikova scored a three to put the Quakers on the board. The rest of the first quarter was a defensive battle, as Penn trailed 11-13 by the end of the period. They were 4-19 in field goals for the first quarter and 1-7 on three-point shooting.
They were able to up their efficiency in the second quarter, going 6-15 from the field and 2-4 from beyond the arc, but both teams continued to stay close, with the lead changing six times in the period. However, Penn started to have turnover issues, registering five of them in the quarter.
“Turnovers are going to happen, but live ball turnovers can be a big problem,” McLaughlin said. “It was an uncharacteristic night for us on that front, but being able to curb live ball turnovers will help us along the way.”
The half ended with a 26-29 score, with Bucknell holding the lead.
The teams emerged from the first half with the Bison holding a three-point lead over the Quakers. In the second half, both teams got off to a slow start, with neither team scoring for nearly the first two minutes. By the middle of the third, Bucknell had managed to establish a ten-point lead. While Penn stayed vigilant in closing the lead, they weren’t able to score any three-point goals.
The Quakers weren’t able to recover the lead in the fourth quarter. The team shot 2-12 in the period and added another five turnovers to make a total of 18. The Bisons, led by top scorers O’Brien and Carly Krsul, never looked back and won the game with a 16-point cushion.
“Spacing was an issue, perimeter shots were tough, and there wasn’t a lot of movement,” McLaughlin said.
With the suspensions ending, the Red and Blue will return to full strength for their next game, a Dec. 5 showdown with ACC-foe Duke at the Palestra.
“Our first eight games had an inconsistent lineup, but they’ve responded really well,” McLaughlin said. “Now that we’re out of that phase, we can fully prepare for Duke.”