Following two straight wins, Penn women’s basketball defeated Bucknell 68-62 Tuesday night in overtime for another.
The Quakers had begun the season at a middling 1-5, and with the win over the Bison, they improve to 4-5, marking a seismic improvement for a squad that desperately needed it.
“I think the most important thing that we're doing is carrying over the lessons from all those losses and really implementing them into games like this one where we had to stay composed and overcome adversity, especially in overtime,” senior guard Kayla Padilla said postgame.
The Red and Blue were well-balanced offensively, with four out of their five starters scoring in double-digits: junior forwards Jordan Obi (16) and Floor Toonders (15), senior guard Kayla Padilla (15), and freshman guard Simone Sawyer (10). Tuesday night marks the third straight game where at least three of Penn’s starters recorded double digits.
“I think it’s a big step up from last year that our offense is much more well-balanced,” Padilla said. “[It] helps us because, for our opponents, it’s multiple people that they have to be aware of, and I think it helps the offense flow a lot more when we have more threats to score.”
Toonders looked especially impressive on the floor, going for not only her second-straight double-double, but a career-high in points as well as blocks (4).
“Floor Toonders, again, is really good on both sides of the ball,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. “And then the intangible piece of the game, she just, she’s doing a really good job.”
Obi also recorded a career-high assist total (5) in addition to her role as the Quakers’ leading scorer.
After some recent shooting struggles, Padilla had a strong game Tuesday night with 15 points — the most she's had since the second game of the season — and an impressive showing defensively. On the glass, she snagged a season-high eight defensive rebounds.
Few connections in the first quarter by the Quakers caused a slow start to the game, as well as a dismal 11.1% three-point percentage. They were able to piece some offensive momentum together, though, turning a tie into a six-point lead with a score of 27-21 at the end of the first half.
The Quakers continued to widen their lead until the Bison, fighting back, were able to catch up, tying the score 49-49 with 8:39 left in the game. Struggling after a 13-0 run from Bucknell, Obi was able to connect for a layup and the two squads continued to go back and forth.
Pressure rose for the Quakers, and with 39.5 seconds left in the game, the Bison managed to make it a one-score contest. An ensuing Penn turnover then set up Bucknell’s Cecelia Collins to hit a tough buzzer-beater that tied the game at 59-59 heading into the extra period.
“I thought the last possession of regulation, we had a really good defensive possession, and she made a heck of a shot at the buzzer,” McLaughlin said.
In overtime, Padilla and Obi both were able to get shots off and the Quakers kept the Bison at bay, only allowing three points in the five-minute stretch. The Red and Blue were able to solidify their lead, leaving no time for Bucknell to bounce back en route to their third-straight win.
“You had the game in your hands and [the] kid makes a shot, and then [we] have to go five more minutes, fatigued and all that, and to find a way to win just sort of showed a lot of class and character from our group,” McLaughlin said.
The Quakers will next face St. Francis Brooklyn on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Palestra.