NEW YORK — When she made an off-the-backboard triple with under three minutes left in Friday’s game, freshman guard Saniah Caldwell became Penn's fourth-leading scorer against Columbia. The caveat is that those were her first points of the game, and Caldwell only played six minutes on Friday night. Not a great sign.
Coming off a brutal 24-point defeat at Harvard but entering Friday a strong 5-2 in conference play, the Quakers (13-8, 5-3 Ivy) traveled to the Big Apple to face a streaking Lions team that had won 14 of their last 15 contests. But their one loss was a four-point defeat against Penn at the Palestra in early January.
It seemed Columbia (18-3, 7-1) was eager to avenge that stinging defeat, as the Lions dominated nearly every aspect of play for nearly all 40 minutes en route to a 72-50 victory.
"We've been calling it a revenge game all week, and that's exactly what we treated it as, and I think that reflected in our play," Columbia senior guard Jaida Patrick said.
In the first half alone, Penn totaled 11 turnovers to the Lions’ four, three assists to their 14, and three offensive rebounds to their nine. When the final buzzer sounded, Columbia had 30 fast break points, and Penn had zero.
"How do you stop transition, you have to put the ball in the basket. But you got to at least throw it out of bounds, and we didn't do that," Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. "We sent one back, maybe we should've sent a second one back. I didn't think we ever were set."
All game long, and especially in the first half, the Lions jumped into passing lanes and fought for loose balls in ways the Quakers weren’t, preventing Penn to gain any traction as the team fell further and further behind.
The Quakers’ leading scorers on Friday, and this season, are senior guard Kayla Padilla and junior forward Jordan Obi. In Ivy League play, when Padilla has scored 20 or more, the Quakers have gone 4-0, but when she hasn't they're a measly 1-3. Though she was Penn’s leading scorer on the night, totaling 18, it likely wouldn’t have mattered if she had gotten to 20.
Obi, meanwhile, tallied 14 points, including the Quakers’ first seven. Thinking Obi was Penn’s only offensive threat at this early juncture, a raucous Columbia crowd of over 2,100 began to boo her every time she touched the ball. The forward was also the Quakers’ main presence on the glass with a team-high 11 rebounds.
Other regular scoring contributors for Penn were largely absent on Friday, with only Padilla, Obi, and sophomore guard Stina Almqvist reaching even four points.
For Columbia, Patrick, senior guard/forward Kaitlyn Davis, and junior guard Abbey Hsu, commanded a 72-point offensive charge, notching 16, 22, and 17 points, respectively.
With six games to go in the regular season, Penn now sits at fourth in the Ivy League just inside the cutoff for a place in the conference tournament, and play tomorrow afternoon at Cornell (9-12, 2-6) in their second of three back-to-backs this conference season.
"We got to get up to Cornell, we got to get some rest, we got to come at it tomorrow, and we got to make some adjustments," McLaughlin said. "Four o'clock is a really important time for us … [but] this team, I'm confident they'll be ready.
Tomorrow's game will be held at 4 p.m. at Newman Arena in Ithaca, N.Y. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.