Penn women fall to Richmond in WNIT

The Richmond women started hot and never cooled off much at home, ending Penn’s season Thursday in a first-round WNIT game, 75-52.
There was no fairy-tale ending for Penn. Kayla Padilla notched 21 points on 7-for-18 shooting, eight rebounds and five assists — leading the team in all three categories — in her final game for the Red and Blue. She played all but the final seconds and got hugs from her coaches as time expired. But Richmond (21-10) played an impeccable game at Robins Court — jumping to an 11-0 lead and hitting five three-pointers in the first quarter. The Spiders’ lead built to as much as 29, and they outscored their opponents in each quarter.

Penn couldn’t sink its shots, going 29% overall and 24% on the threes it needed to catch up. Those aren’t winning numbers in normal circumstances, and the visitors were up against a taller, disciplined team that played above its normal level.

For the fourth-ranked team in the Ivies, this was a bonus game of sorts, and coach Mike McLaughlin used it to give some extra court time to seniors Faye Parker at center and Sydnei Caldwell at guard, and to little-used freshmen Saniah Caldwell and Isabel Gomez. Parker registered three blocks along with four points in her final game, and the younger Caldwell sister had a bucket and an assist. With point guard Mandy McGurk graduating, Saniah Caldwell will be a candidate to take over the point next season.
For Richmond, Annie Oakley was in the house in the person of forward Addie Budnik, who led all scorers with 23 points (4-for-6 from deep) and added a couple of blocks. Maggie Doogan had 18 points (2-for-3 from deep). The Spiders also moved the ball well, time and again sending passes to players cutting for the basket and recording 18 assists on 28 field goals.
Richmond goes to the second round of the WNIT against the winner of Friday’s game between Boston University and Rhode Island. Penn goes back to West Philly, where McLaughlin faces the tough job of rebuilding a team that went 17-12 and is losing its senior backcourt leaders. It may be that no player is irreplaceable, but Padilla is close.

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