Kayla Padilla shines in homecoming as shorthanded Penn women fall to Memphis in overtime

Kayla Padilla’s spectacular 36-point performance was almost enough to complete a Penn sweep of her Los Angeles homecoming, as the Quakers fell to Memphis, 73-68, in overtime Saturday.

Padilla had a cold hand and scored a mere nine points the day before against San Diego in the teams’ opener at the Loyola Marymount Thanksgiving Classic. But Penn won that one, 60-55, on the strength of a resounding 20 points and 10 rebounds by sophomore forward Jordan Obi, Penn’s other Californian, and strong performances by seniors Mia Lakstigala and Kennedy Suttle. Lakstigala just missed a double-double herself, with nine rebounds and 13 points.

The Memphis loss was, among other things, a stark reminder of the price Penn (4-2) is paying for an unspecified infraction of university rules by the team’s upperclassmen. Each of them is serving a rolling four-game suspension over the first eight games of the season. On Friday, seniors Lakstigala, Suttle and Nikola Kovacikova grabbed 20 of Penn’s 33 rebounds; on Saturday, Penn had 38 rebounds — junior Silke Milliman, who sat out the San Diego game, grabbed 11 — but Memphis (6-1) had 53, and Memphis had 46 points in the paint to Penn’s 22.

Yet Penn led most of the way, and the reason was Padilla. Her 36-point outpouring was the 10th-highest total in Penn women’s history. (The great Diana Caramanico, in case you’re wondering, is No. 1 at 42 points, and that was no fluke: She also had 41-point, 38-point and 37-point games.) Padilla had 22 points at halftime, and for a while it seemed she could not miss a three-pointer. She played every one of the game’s 45 minutes, shooting 50%, including 9-for-17 from beyond the arc, and had five assists. Her nine three-pointers set a Penn record.

Obi had another excellent game but could not overcome the Memphis size advantage. Her 12 points included a pair of threes without a miss. And she missed the overtime period; she fouled out in the final minute of regulation, as part of Penn’s successful effort to keep Memphis from running out the clock on a slim lead. Padilla put Penn ahead 60-59 with a three with 16 seconds left, but a foul by freshman Sima Visockaite sent Memphis guard Emani Jefferson to the line with one second left, and she sank one of two shots to send the game to overtime.

In OT, Memphis jumped to a six-point lead. Threes by freshman Marianna Papazoglou and Padilla tied the game at 68 with 1:11 left, but the final minute was all Memphis.

Penn returns to the Palestra to face La Salle on Tuesday night.

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