It makes sense that on the night of Floor Toonders’ return from the injury that kept her off the court for the season’s first six games, her Penn Quakers would control the inside.
But the 6-foot-4 senior forward came in for just four minutes and made no plays; it was her shorter teammates who made their inches and aggressiveness count in beating La Salle Wednesday at the Palestra, 79-71.
So where is the Penn women’s basketball team after a 2-1 Thanksgiving trip to southern California?
The easy answer is: on an eastbound jet. The real answer is: Nobody can be sure.
Mataya Gayle has arrived.
The freshman from Georgia showed why coach Mike McLaughlin made her his starting point guard by running the offense and scoring 25 points in three quarters as the Penn women beat a good Siena team on the road Sunday afternoon, 85-79, in a back-and-forth game between well-matched teams.
Saint Joseph’s gave Penn women’s basketball a reality check Tuesday night at the Palestra. After the Quakers’ comfortable season-opening victory Saturday over Marist, the undefeated Hawks cut them down, 72-48.
The Hawks have run up 20-plus-point margins of victory in each of their first three games (including at Yale). Their top scorers from last year have returned, joined by grad student Chloe Welch and freshman Gabby Casey, two of the five Hawks who hit double figures at Penn. Sophomore forward Laura Ziegler led the way with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
How good are these Hawks offensively? Well, in the first quarter, they hit a third of their shots, including 1-for-3 from three, and the Quakers kept pace. In the second quarter, St. Joe’s hit half of its shots, including 2-for-4 from three (the killer being a buzzer-beater from just inside half-court to leave Penn seven points down). In the third quarter: 57% overall, 40% of threes. In the final quarter, 75% on all shots, including 3-for-4 on threes.
A month after suffering their only Ivy defeat, Columbia’s women exacted sweet revenge on Penn, 72-50, in front of a jubilant home crowd of 2,100 at Levien Gym Friday.
The win keeps the Lions (18-3, 7-1 Ivy) in first place ahead of a Saturday afternoon game hosting Princeton’s Tigers (15-5, 6-2), who will be seeking revenge of their own for their last loss, an overtime thriller at Jadwin.
So was the Penn women’s victory over Columbia a mirage? Was that 11-game winning streak a fluke?
No, but the loss at Princeton reflects the Quakers’ inconsistency.
Coaches have plenty of good reasons for scheduling events like the Penn women’s Friday afternoon game — let’s not call it a contest — against Gwynedd Mercy at the Palestra. Drama just isn’t one of them.
Let’s get the basics out of the way: Penn 95, G. Mercy 38. The Quakers put 17 players on the court (no, not all at once), and 16 of them scored. The Penn reserves outscored the Penn starters, who in turn outscored Gwynedd Mercy, which to be fair played well for a Division III team facing a bigger, faster, more talented Division I team.
The Penn women had their home opener Thursday at the Palestra, and an excellent team showed off its talent and consistently fine play.
Unfortunately for Penn, that team was Villanova, which won 67-41.
The Penn women started their season very, very badly Thursday night at Marist, missing 10 of their first 11 shots.
Then Kayla Padilla reminded everyone why she’s the top scorer in the Ivies and a threat whenever the ball is in play. The senior guard sliced through the Marist defenders or shot over them for 31 points, and the Quakers held on to beat the Red Foxes, 65-61.
The Harvard women were fighting for a win at home for their legendary coach on Kathy Delaney-Smith Day.