After two weeks of winless play, the Quakers finally find themselves the victors.
On Tuesday Night, Penn women’s basketball grabbed a much-needed second win of the season against La Salle (5-3) at the Tom Gola Arena, lifting the Quakers to a record of 2-5. Penn never once lost the lead throughout the contest, capitalizing on stellar individual performances.
Both teams started off slowly from the jump, with La Salle going on an early four-minute scoring drought. Offensive rebounds from 6-foot-4 junior forward Floor Toonders, and interior buckets from junior forward Jordan Obi, gave the Quakers a slight edge following tip-off. Despite some foul trouble, Toonders managed to snag 10 total rebounds, while freshman guard Simone Sawyer foreshadowed her offensive prowess throughout the game by quickly scoring nine points in the first quarter.
La Salle was smothered in the backcourt from the moment it in-bounded the ball to start the second quarter. Penn utilized an aggressive defensive scheme, relying on a combination of a full-court press and zone defense. Senior guards Kayla Padilla and Mandy McGurk, along with Sawyer, swarmed La Salle’s guards and forced consecutive second-quarter turnovers. This was pivotal in allowing the Quakers to open up a 21-point first-half lead. The Explorers gave the ball away a whopping 17 times across the first two quarters.
Shots just didn’t fall at the beginning of the game for La Salle. The Explorers gradually began to fall behind on the scoreboard after many back-to-back missed open threes. They finished with an 8-27 clip from beyond the arc and only managed 16 points from the paint. Penn ate up the interior, scoring 46 points from inside the paint and grabbing a total of 20 offensive rebounds.
The Explorers emerged from the break blazing hot, quickly chopping down Penn’s lead from 21 to 12 after going a perfect 3-3 from three at the beginning of the third quarter. Despite this strong effort, the lead had become too large to overcome, and Penn was able to weather La Salle’s quick offensive punches.
Sawyer burst onto the scene, continuing her recent run of dominant offensive performances with a career-high night in three major offensive stat departments. The freshman guard finished with 24 points, four assists, and seven rebounds, setting the personal bar high for her many games to come. After back-to-back 18-point performances, the freshman is beginning to establish herself as one of the most lethal Quaker players when it comes to closing games out.
Obi also played a pivotal role on the offensive end and set a personal, finishing the contest with a season-high 20 points, despite having to sit out for the end of the third quarter and much of the fourth due to foul trouble. The junior forward had complete control of the paint, feeding off of crisp passes from Padilla and Sawyer, the former ending with a game-high seven assists.
After a bitter voyage to California, where the Quakers lost back-to-back games to San Francisco and USC, a season-high scoring night was just what was needed to lift morale for the remainder of the season. With a plethora of Ivy League Conference games stacked up down the road, Penn is looking to leave its slow start behind and bring its winning momentum to the Palestra for the upcoming game against Stony Brook on Thursday night.