PROVIDENCE, R.I. - It all seemed perfect, possibly too perfect.
As Penn women's basketball arrived to face off against a lowly Brown team that had lost by 43 points the night before, senior guard Kayla Padilla was just two three-pointers away from breaking the program record. Just before tipoff, the Bears PA system blasted Lil Uzi Vert’s “Just Wanna Rock” — a Philadelphia anthem — and Penn looked locked in.
However, while Padilla did eventually break the record, it was done so in a losing effort as Penn fell to Brown by a score of 68-59, dropping its overall record to 16-9 (8-4 Ivy) while the Bears improved to 11-13 (4-8).
"I thought the first half was pretty solid for us, but ultimately we got outplayed on both sides of the ball," coach Mike McLaughlin said. "We were really fatigued — but that's no excuse. They beat us on loose balls, they outworked us on the glass, and they beat us down the floor."
Padilla's record-tying three got the Quakers off to a hot start early that appeared they would not back away from. Penn pulled ahead 27-20 midway through the second quarter — starting a run that put the Red and Blue up 12 at the half — and it seemed as if the Quakers were primed to pull away.
However, coming out of the intermission, the Bears played strongly — outscoring the Quakers by 12 in the third quarter to tie the game up at 51 heading into the fourth. Brown stayed hot to start the fourth and effectively took Penn out of the game with minutes left to play.
"I think we just got outplayed, a lot of the shots we usually make just weren't falling," Padilla said. "But also credit to Brown, they're a talented, growing team. We just didn't play to the best of our abilities, and there's no other excuse than that."
In breaking the record, Padilla passed Karen Habrukowich, who tallied 196 three-pointers during her time with the Quakers from 2001-05. Months away from graduation, Padilla will likely not have a chance to break the all-time scoring record which she is still several hundred points away from. But her spot on top of the three-point list in spite of this highlights how critical the deep shot has been to her game at Penn.
Despite now being the all-time leader in threes made, Padilla is just third in long-range shots attempted, a testament to her accuracy. However, there was no time to celebrate in Providence.
"I don't think anybody cares or even knows [about the record]," McLaughlin said. "You're in the middle of a game so you don't think about anything individual. But I will say, that's a great accomplishment to do a feat like that. I think Kayla is special in every way."
While Padilla was on everyone’s minds going into the game, it was junior forward Floor Toonders who caught everyone’s eyes — at least on offense. The Quakers used her notable size advantage to their benefit. She made any of her teammates who passed to her look like Tom Brady throwing to a prime Rob Gronkowski, as they pin-pointed the ball up high and inside where only she could get it.
After receiving the feeds, Toonders rarely failed to convert — finishing the game with 14 points and making seven of her 11 shots. However, the same could be said for Brown, as three starters scored in double digits. Penn allowed 38 points in the paint in what was the team's undoing. That, and poor offensive showings from all players not named Padilla or Toonders, as all others finished a dreadful 10-for-45 from the field.
Coming off a big win against Yale the previous night, the weekend marked Penn’s last regular season back-to-back of the year. Although, another one may be in the Quakers' future if they win their first playoff game of the Ivy tournament — which they've already a clinched a spot in.
With two games left in the regular season, Penn will look to fortify its position in Ivy League standings and help Padilla attain the accolade that matters more to her than any scoring record — an Ivy League title.
"When we face adversity, that's the biggest time we have to come together, and we didn't really show that tonight," Padilla said. "Especially going into the tournament, we need to come together collectively to push against the wall and do our best."
Penn‘s next game is against Dartmouth on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2 pm. The game will be in Hanover, N.H. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.