PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/2/2019 – The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball looked to bounce back after losing their first game of the season at Duke. The Quakers showed there would be no let down and won 74 – 46 over the Hartford Hawks at the Palestra. This Penn team is one that can focus on the present.
“We didn’t have one of our best performances at Duke and that was hanging over our heads a little,” said Penn guard Kendall Grasela. “It was really important to come out strong, have a short term memory and forget about our loss, show that this team we want to be and keep the ball rolling with wins.”
“We went down there, we played that game, now we played this game,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “That’s how we coach them in practice. It’s the one in front of us mentality and they responded well.”
Defense was the key, especially creating turnovers. In the first half the Quakers forced 17 turnovers and got 17 points off the miscues. For the game the Red and Blue forced Hartford to turn the ball over 25 times which yielded 30 points.
“Our defensive intensity was the key to winning this game and will be going forward,” Grasela said.
Penn got out to an early lead scoring 12 of the first 13 points. After Hartford got their first basket the Red and Blue answered with a 9 – 0 run and took a 21 – 5 lead after one quarter. The Hawks made one of ten from the floor.
This would not last, and no one expected it would. Hartford cut the gap to under 10 points, but Penn would stretch the lead again and won the third quarter 24 – 6.
Kayla Padilla scored a game-high 20 points in the win. She made 8 of 11 field goal attempts, 2 of 4 from beyond the arc, and added 4 steals.
“When we need a basket she has multiple ways to score,” McLaughlin said about Padilla. “She can pass it, she can score it, she can dribble it. She is off to a phenomenal start.”
Phoebe Sterba scored in double digits getting 11 points. Kendall Grasela had 5 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals.
Sixteen Penn players saw game action, thirteen scored points. The win is important, and for so many to get into the game has meaning for the team.
“It’s awesome,” said Grasela about the bench getting playing time. “Seeing how hard everybody works in practice, and how that pays off. Seeing everybody play is the best thing ever. When everybody plays, the bench is hyped. After the game we talk about what everybody did well.”
Carmen Villalobos scored a team-best 13 points for Hartford who still seeks their initial win of the season.
Penn improves to 5 – 1 and looks towards a Big Five game at La Salle on Wednesday.
“The Big Five is super important to us,” Grasela said. “As an Ivy you are under-looked a little bit. It’s important for us to show who we are and that the Ivy League can compete with any conference in the country, and be on top in the Big Five.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian