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.

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Penn women lose well to Villanova after winning ugly at St. Francis Brooklyn

A win’s a win, right? And if you win by 17, you must have done well, right?

Then you lose by three at home — a bad night, of course.

But those two games for the Penn women were paradoxically disappointing and worth celebrating. Mike McLaughlin’s team escaped Brooklyn with a 63-46 victory Thursday over St. Francis. Penn failed to play its game with any consistency, and the Terriers gave the Quakers a good shake and would have had a shot at winning if they hadn’t had a preposterously bad night of shooting — 14-for-62 (22.6%).

Then, on Monday, the Quakers — minus their upper-class leaders — faced their first serious challenge in their first Big 5 opponent of the year, played with verve and discipline, and almost won again.

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Penn women’s hoops suspends all juniors and seniors for four games

Another day, another piece of Ancient Eight breaking news. 

After Friday’s announcement of Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith’s retirement at season’s end, Monday afternoon brought surprise news of Penn’s suspension of all of the team’s juniors and seniors for violation of university policy.  The specific policy was not disclosed, but the infraction will cost each of the nine upper-class students four games.  Since suspending the entire group would leave the Quakers with only eight true first-years and sophomores, none with any collegiate experience, the Red & Blue have elected to spread the penalties over the team’s first eight regular-season contests. 

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Ivy League women’s basketball Media Day roundup

One day after releasing the conference’s preseason poll, the Ivy League moved one step closer to normal by hosting the 2021-22 Media Day for women’s basketball Tuesday.  For the first time, the league used a Zoom format to create a stronger connection between the coaches, players and the media.

In Monday’s poll, three-time defending champion Princeton was again picked as the top team with 122 total points and 12 first-place votes.  Penn, the 2019 co-champion, was selected No. 2 with three first-place votes and 108 points. The next three teams were close, with only six points separating Columbia, Yale and Harvard.

The Lions, which earned their first Ivy League Tournament berth in 2020 before the tourney was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, moved up to third with 87 points. The Bulldogs, a third-place team in 2020, dropped to fourth at 82 points.  The Crimson, which finished fifth in 2020, received one first-place vote but missed the upper division by one point.

Cornell, the 2020 seventh-place squad, moved up to sixth for 2022 with 41 points.  Dartmouth and Brown, two teams with new coaching staffs, ended up with the last two spots, with the Big Green’s 29 points two ahead of the Bears.

Tuesday’s Media Day revealed the four tiers apparent in the preseason poll. But there could be a slight reordering near the top.

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WNIT recap: Big East foes sweep Harvard and Penn to end season

Georgetown (18-15) 70 at Harvard (17-13) 65

The Harvard women found themselves down 14 points midway through the second quarter and 11 at the half, before rallying to take the lead with 2:45 left in regulation.  Georgetown senior Dionna White would respond with a go-ahead coast-to-coast layup with 33 seconds left to put the Hoyas in the lead for good and clinched second round WNIT victory over Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.

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