Temple takes Big 5 crown in late comeback over Penn women

The Penn women, who looked like Big 5 champions in the fall when they beat St. Joseph’s and La Salle (and Drexel, for that matter), missed a share of the city title when they went cold from outside, gave up 29 points in the fourth quarter and lost at Temple Thursday night, 76-72.
Temple and Villanova get to share Philadelphia bragging rights with three wins each in the series. Penn gets to wonder how it’s lost three games in a row, albeit to good teams, and how the defense on which it prides itself failed to protect a 15-point lead.

Temple had a great night from junior forward Mia Davis: 20 points and 14 rebounds for her 13th double-double of the season. But she had plenty of help: Guard Ashley Jones off the bench got 10 of her 17 points in that last quarter, and Alexa Williamson got 12 points to match her 12 rebounds.

The game went sideways for the Quakers in a number of ways. Those 29 points for the Owls were by far the most Penn has surrendered in a quarter this year. Temple shot 10-for-17 in the quarter, including 3-for-5 from long, while Penn went 5-for-16 and zilch-for-6 in turning a 13-point advantage after three periods into a four-point defeat. As they did in those previous losses, to Princeton and Nova, Penn was badly beaten on the boards, in this case 47-32. As a result, Temple had the advantage for second-chance points (18-11) and points in the paint (38-26).
Not that Penn’s outside game went as planned, either. For the first time since she arrived in West Philly in the fall, freshman Kayla Padilla failed to reach double figures, shooting an un-KP 3-for-12 for eight points. (On a normal day, Padilla shoots 50%, not 25%.) Senior Kendall Grasela, who runs the point for the Quakers and shoots only when necessary — averaging 2.5 points a game — found it necessary against Temple and went 5-for-8 from the field for a career-high 15 points plus seven assists.
Center Eleah Parker also came through for the Quakers with an excellent game if not a dominant one: her first double-double of the season, 13 rebounds and 17 points on 8-for-19 shooting, plus a couple of blocks. Parker has been averaging under 10 points and six rebounds a game, so this was a welcome step in her personal rebuilding program; Penn can’t reach its potential without her return to first team All-Ivy form. (Last year, she averaged almost a double-double: nine rebounds and 15.1 points a game.)
Temple was the last stop in Penn’s nonconference schedule; it has a week off before its longest road trip of the Ivy season, to Harvard and Dartmouth, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

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