Explorers Win Their First Women’s Big Five Game of the Season
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/30/2021
There will be games when the offense is not functioning well. Both teams faced that situation in this game. The La Salle Explorers persevered and pulled away in the last ten minutes to take home a 63 – 49 win over the University of Pennsylvania Quakers in a Women’s Big Five game at the Palestra.
Penn was in front at the beginning of the quarter 43 – 37. At the 9:20 mark the Quakers led 45 – 39 on a Mandy McGurk basket. That would be the last basket for the Red and Blue until only 47 seconds remained in the game. In the meantime the Blue and Gold went on a game-deciding 22 – 2 run keyed by seniors Kayla Spruill and Molly Masciantonio.
“I thought we played hard, but our kids found out that you can play harder, and they did,” said La Salle Coach Mountain MacGillivray. “They responded in the fourth quarter and I was really pleased.”
The defense held Penn to 6 points in the quarter. During that segment of the game the Quakers missed 14 consecutive shots. The Explorers won quarter number four 26 – 6.
The critical run was started behind two baskets from three-point land by Masciantonio, who tied her season-high in scoring with 9 points. Her other 9 point effort was also in University City in the Drexel game. All of her points came in the final stanza. Spruill got 11 of her team-high 17 points in the last ten minutes.
“Molly hit a three off of a ball screen,” MacGillivray explained. “She hasn’t shot the three well this season. Everybody went nuts when she made that. Those two seniors found a way to make plays for us.”
Meanwhile the Quakers could not find the basket. For the game Penn shot just under 30% (19 of 64) from the field and 3 of 19 (15.8%) from distance, the team lowest percentages of the season. Offensively the bright spot of the game for Penn came in the third quarter when the team used an 11 – 4 spurt to take a 41 – 32 lead, their largest of the game. Mia Lakstigala and Mandy McGurk scored all of the points in that run.
“Even when we did have a lead, I thought we didn’t play well at all,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “We didn’t have any fluidity on the offensive side. I thought we competed better on the defensive side and the board than we did in the past two games. From the start our offense was struggling.
The Quakers won the rebounding battle 48 – 32 as Lakstigala and Kennedy Suttle pulled down 10 rebounds each. For Lakstigala the total was a season-high.
La Salle made 38% from the floor and 8 of 28 from beyond the arc. In the fourth quarter the Explorers converted 8 of 12 field goal attempts.
Spruill sank 4 of 10 shots, pulled down 9 rebounds, and was a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line. It was a season-high from the stripe for Spruill and was one made free throw shy of her career-high. Explorers guard Kenya Cote-Lysius scored a career-high 9 points. Jaye Haynes’ 8 rebounds represents a collegiate-best. Masciantonio matched her season-best with 6 assists.
Lakstigala recorded a double-double for the Red and Blue with 18 points, tying a season-tops, and 10 rebounds. Jordan Obi added 14 points and grabbed 9 caroms.
The Quakers fall to 4 – 3 on the season, and 0 – 2 in the Big Five. Penn played short-handed again due to suspensions. Kayla Padilla was not in uniform. Duke visits the Palestra on Sunday to face the Red and Blue.
La Salle ups their record to 4 – 3 and is 1 – 0 in the Big Five. Saint Francis of PA is next on the schedule. The Explorers and the Temple Owls are on top of the city series standings.
“We get three more and we can celebrate something,” MacGillivray said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian