Coming off a rough loss to Columbia, Penn women’s basketball got its chance at redemption less than 24 hours later against Cornell, coming away with a dominant 67-54 win.
“I think the mindset for these back-to-back weekends is the fact that we have to shift gears,” senior guard Kayla Padilla said. “It's all about moving on to the next game and focusing on the task at hand.”
The Quakers (14-8, 6-3 Ivy) overpowered the Big Red (9-13, 2-7), led by the familiar dynamic duo composed of Padilla and junior forward Jordan Obi, who scored 23 and 21 points, respectively. The Red and Blue remain undefeated in Ivy play when Padilla scores more than 20 points.
Heading into the tail end of the season, the team’s exhaustion showed with a series of uncharacteristic offensive and defensive mistakes that led to several key Quakers getting into foul trouble. Notably, senior guard Mandy McGurk saw her playing time cut short after she picked up her third foul early in the second quarter.
McGurk, who scored 7 points against Cornell in the two teams' last meeting, proved to be sorely missed for the rest of the first half as the Quakers struggled to capitalize on their scoring opportunities while also turning the ball over several times. Heading in to the break, the Big Red were able to stay in the game, keeping Penn's lead to only nine points despite the rather lopsided shooting statistics.
Despite such mistakes, with the Quakers finishing with 20 turnovers, the Big Red never really challenged for the lead in the second half. Penn closed the door on any possibility of a comeback with a 17-0 run in the third quarter that extended its lead to 24 points. Although Cornell was eventually able to close the gap to just 13 points, it proved too little too late for the Big Red.
“The first half felt out of rhythm again,” said Padilla. “At the end of the day, it was a matter of getting stops and executing. We got some really great looks, and I think we just needed to make sure we defended that lead.”
The win was a much needed victory for the Red and Blue’s chances at locking in their spot in the conference tournament, especially after being completely outmatched the day before by another New York-based, Ivy League foe. With several tough road games ahead, as well as one more weekend of back-to-back games, Penn is running out of time to secure an Ivy tournament bid — something it could not do last year.
“We’re going through this league the second time,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “It’s a very well coached league and a very talented league. It’s a good time to make some adjustments and tweaks on both sides of the ball to put ourselves in the best position.”
Penn will have a chance to rest up before facing off against Harvard on Feb. 11 at the Palestra.