Plagued with turnovers, Penn women’s basketball dropped its matchup against Yale in a 63-53 loss.
The Quakers (7-9, 2-2 Ivy) headed into New Haven ranked fourth in Ivy League standings, just half a game behind the Bulldogs (11-6, 4-1 Ivy). Hoping to stretch its three-game win streak against Yale on its home court to four, the team never once pulled ahead for a lead.
Penn won the opening tip, but the early success soon faded. Flaws in the team’s defense were exposed as Penn quickly racked up five turnovers only three minutes in. In fact, the first eight points scored by Yale were all off turnovers.
The Quakers couldn’t catch a rhythm early in the game. Turning over possession in any way possible forced coach Mike McLaughlin to call a timeout to try and cool down Yale’s offense and allow Penn to restrategize.
“I felt we tried to do a little too much,” McLaughlin said. “I don’t think we executed the really small things.”
As poor as the start was, junior guard Kayla Padilla’s ability to break down Yale’s defense allowed her to secure seven points and an assist to sophomore forward Jordan Obi in the first quarter. But strong performances from the two put targets on their back.
“[Yale] put a lot of pressure on [Padilla and Obi].” McLaughlin said. “You know they put the ball in their hands a lot, they’re being guarded hard, so you turn the ball over quite a few times.”
Regardless, the Bulldogs held a five-point, 17-12 lead over the Quakers as they entered the second quarter.
Senior guard Mia Lakstigala opened the second with back-to-back three-pointers to even the score at 18-18. Yet, the Bulldogs hit back-to-back three-pointers of their own soon after.
Moments after, junior forward Silke Milliman hit a three. Yale then responded with two more three-pointers to put them on top. It seemed that nearly every time Penn had a run, Yale drilled a three-pointer to answer.
Penn was stuck playing catch-up.
Defense was up in the second, but the Red and Blue’s turnover troubles returned. At the half, the team had 15 turnovers which accounted for 17 of Yale’s 36 points, just shy of 50%.
Trailing 36-30, Penn had to up their offense. However, much of the play in the second half reflected that of the first.
After the break, Yale scored six unanswered points to double the team’s lead. Despite the Red and Blue being outscored 15-7 in the third, Obi's efforts were crucial, as she was the sole Quaker to score in the quarter.
The Quakers put up a strong 16-point performance in the fourth quarter following a weak seven-point outing in the third.
Padilla notched two three-pointers and two layups – including one layup with 19 seconds left on the clock to tie Obi, at 18 points, as leading point scorer of the game. In the final two minutes alone, Padilla went on a seven-point run to narrow the Bulldogs' lead from 17 to 10 points.
Even so, the scoring surge came too late.
Turnovers in the second half against Penn remained high (10), but the team kept the points scored by Yale off turnovers low (8).
Obi’s 18-point, 12-rebound performance registered her third career double-double. Lakstigala shined in a strong performance of her own, recording six rebounds, three assists, eight points, and two steals.
Despite a valiant effort from the Quakers, the team was unable to keep pace with the Bulldogs.
“It’s a long league season.” McLaughlin said. “We’ll play Yale again. You just gotta keep battling.”
The Red and Blue hope to bounce back on Wednesday, Jan. 26 as they take on the Columbia Lions on the road.