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12-07-21-womens-basketball-vs-st-joes-kayla-padilla-anna-vazhaeparambil

Junior guard Kayla Padilla attempts a shot against St. Joseph's University at the Palestra on Dec. 7.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

The streak continues, but not all streaks are good ones. 

Penn women’s basketball lost a close Big 5 match to Saint Joseph’s, 83-70, after being down by as many as 13 late in the third quarter.

For the Quakers (4-6, Big 5 0-3), this was their fifth straight loss and brings their chances of winning a Big 5 title this season close to zero. The Hawks (3-6, 1-1), on the other hand, extended their win streak to two and earned their second win against an Ivy League program this season after beating Yale in their previous game. 

The game started with Hawk graduate student guard Katie Jetok receiving the opening tip back from freshman forward Laila Fair after beating Penn’s sophomore foward Jordan Obi. Early in the game, the Red and Blue had many great defensive stops and blocks that kept the game scoreless for almost two minutes. 

The Hawks found the first basket off of a layup by freshman guard Mackenzie Smith. They were able to extend their lead to as many as five, before a three-pointer by senior guard Nikola Kovacikova cut the lead to 5-3. 

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Senior guard Mia Lakstigala drives to the basket against St. Joseph's at the Palestra on Dec. 7.

St. Joe’s lead extended to 11-5 with five minutes left in the first quarter. Penn responded with a barrage of three-pointers, shooting 62.5% from beyond the arc in the first quarter. 

A three-pointer from junior guard Kayla Padilla tied the game at 14-14 with about two minutes left in the first quarter. The rest of the quarter would stay deadlocked with both team unable to pull away — ending with the score 19-19. 

“We just hope they get quality shots at the basket," coach Mike McLaughlin said. “I think we started off slow today in terms of putting the ball actually in the basket. We did find a rhythm that you saw at the end of that quarter.”

The second quarter started out similarly — neither team was able to establish a firm lead until five minutes were remaining in the half. The Hawks made a run to push the team's lead to 35-28. 

The Red and Blue were unable to respond until a Padilla floater cut the lead to five. Padilla, who led all scorers with 31 points, would score another basket before halftime, but the Hawks were able to capitalize off of the last possession of the half to make it 44-32 at halftime. 

“At that point, I was trying to get a score,” Padilla said. “You know, once you see shots go in it motivates you to get a stop on defense. Anything I could do to to really get us motivated, especially going into the fourth when I tried to.”

The Red and Blue came out of halftime energized — senior forward Kennedy Suttle drove hard in the paint and finished an and-one opportunity to decrease the Hawks' lead to 44-34. Penn would continue to fight back in the third quarter, making the game just a one-point affair at 54-53.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Senior forward Kennedy Suttle tries to get a shot off while surrounded by St. Joseph's defenders at the Palestra on Dec. 7.

With time winding down in the third quarter, Padilla found herself open beyond the arc and let it fly for a shot that splashed through the net as time expired. 

In the fourth quarter, the Hawks were able to extend their lead back to double digits, gaining a 70-60 lead with about four minutes left in the game. A smothering Hawks defense forced an inefficient Quakers offense to shoot just 33% from the field in the final quarter of the game.

The Quakers will hope to snap their five-game losing streak on Friday, Dec. 10, when the team travels to Long Island, N.Y. to take on the Stony Brook Seawolves. 

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