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Junior guard Kayla Padilla drives to the basket against Duke at the Palestra on Dec. 5.

Credit: William Bartoc

Slow and steady might win the race, but it doesn’t win basketball games.

Penn women’s basketball dropped its fourth straight game against the Duke Blue Devils by a score of 77-55. This marks the first game for Penn (4-5) back at full strength after a series of suspensions left it shorthanded for the first eight games. Duke (8-0) came into this game undefeated and it was able to continue its winning ways. 

“I think some of that too is some of the open shots with a closing speed became challenge shots,” coach McLaughlin said. “I think that was one of the issues or challenges around the rim that was another issue. So hopefully, we learned from that.”

Penn sophomore forward Jordan Obi won the opening tip against Duke’s graduate student Jade Williams to open the game. Both teams started out slow on the offensive side of the ball without a basket in the first two opening minutes. 

Duke drew first blood off of a jumper from Williams with 7:40 remaining in the first quarter. After the made jumper, the Blue Devils would extend their lead to 8-0 before the Quakers responded with a three-pointer from senior Mia Lakstigala. Penn was unable to find its footing for the rest of the quarter with many missed shots, which caused Duke to jump out to a 22-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

Coming into the second quarter, the Red and Blue’s shooting troubles continued with a 27.6% shooting percentage through the first half. Though, there were some moments of greatness in the second quarter with junior guard Kayla Padilla making a long three-pointer off of a pass from the inside from senior guard Mia Lakstigala that cut the lead to 38-22. 

“I thought we fought pretty hard but the first quarter got away from us a little bit,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “A couple of real easy ones, but ones that really could have got us. You know, going a little bit, so we struggled there, and I thought we did a great job in the second quarter. Taking that away from us there, and probably about seven minutes stretch.” 

Credit: William Bartoc

Sophomore forward Jordan Obi attempts a shot against Duke at the Palestra on Dec. 5.

With time winding down in the first half, the Quakers possessed the ball on offense, and with the ball in the hands of senior forward Kennedy Suttle, she drove down the left-hand side. As she went up for the layup, she was fouled but made the shot, making the score 40-25 Duke. 

Starting the second half, the Quakers scored first off of a Suttle-made layup, but they were unable to find any momentum still as Duke extended its lead to as many as 17 points with three minutes left in the third quarter. The Blue Devils were able to bring their lead back up to 23 to make it 59-36 at the end of the third quarter. 

The Quakers' struggles continued in the fourth quarter. With less than two minutes in, Duke extended its lead off of a wide open sophomore Vanessa de Jesus to make it 63-36. Penn continued to fight its way back into the game but was unsuccessful in its efforts. 

“I think coach McLaughlin was just emphasizing execution because no matter like who we're playing, whether it's Duke or St. Joe's, there are plays and we got to know how to run them and run them against whatever defenses are throwing at us,” Padilla said. “So just honing in on that and just keep playing our game.”

Penn will look to rebound on Tuesday, Dec. 7, when it continues Big 5 play, hosting the Saint Joesph’s Hawks.