Penn Had a Full Team, but Lost to Unbeaten Duke

Duke Started Fast, Downed Penn 77 – 55

PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/5/2021 –

For the first time this season the University of Pennsylvania fielded a complete team. The early season suspensions are served, and the full team was ready to go. The opponent was the powerful, undefeated Duke Blue Devils. Penn was finding their way, Duke knew theirs and brought home a 77 – 55 win at the Palestra. The feeling was different, but good for Quakers Coach Mike McLaughlin.

“This is the first time we had the entire group together,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “We don’t have an established rotation since every game was different from the last one. Hopefully, this doesn’t hold us back too long. I don’t think I never had this situation where they had to sit, then they played, then they sat. I don’t think I could have done it with a better group of people. They responded well, took responsibility, matured and grew.”

The Blue Devils entered the game off a big 79 – 64 win over nationally ranked Iowa. And exam time looms. The start of the game had importance, and the Duke team got off to that fast start. Penn fell behind 8 – 0 and did not get their first points until guard Mia Lakstigala sank a three-pointer at the 4:30 mark. The Blue Devils owned the inside getting a 10 – 2 advantage in points in the paint. Duke won the first quarter 22 – 5.

The Quakers settled down in the second quarter and won it 20 – 18. Penn had the third quarter momentum early and cut the deficit to 11 at 46 – 35 with just over four and a half minutes remaining. McLaughlin looked for his team to respond and did.

Fight,” McLaughlin said. “We responded well, There are times when we could have responded better, made a basket, and get on a run. Overall there were some opportunities when the ball was dead. This group executed a little better than our group.”

But the visitors closed out the third quarter with a 13 – 1 run to take control.

“We won the game on Thursday, and if we didn’t get it here today, it would have cancelled that out,” said Duke Coach Kara Lawson. “We’re feeling good about it.”

For the game the Blue Devils converted nearly half of their shots while Penn recovered from the first quarter shooting woes (15.4%), to connect on 21 of 66 from the floor. Many of the shots for Duke were close to the basket, and points in the paint was the answer to any runs the Quakers put together.

“We just couldn’t score the ball enough,” McLaughlin said.

Twelve Duke players played and each one of the dozen scored. Shayeann Day-Wilson scored a team-high 14 points sinking 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. Forward Elizabeth Balogun had 13 points. Celeste Taylor pulled down 9 rebounds.

Kayle Padilla led Penn with 16 points and 5 assists. Lakstigala scored 11 points. Forward Kennedy Suttle contributed 11 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

Duke improves to 8 – 0. The Devils have 10 days off, but will be taking final exams in that time period. Awaiting them is South Carolina.

Each team plays in a historic basketball venue. Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium, Penn at the Palestra. The trip to Philadelphia was exciting to Lawson and the Duke team to play in this venue.

“It was exciting, Lawson said. “This is the first time I’ve been here, never have been to the Palestra before. We did a little history lesson on the Palestra and the history of college basketball here.

Penn has a quick turnaround facing Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday. The Quakers are seeking their first Big Five win on the season. The Red and Blue are 0 – 2 in the city series.

“Saint Joe’s is a really important game for us,” said McLaughlin. “We came up short in both Big Five games. Villanova was a great effort, one of the best efforts I’ve seen in a long time. We were undermanned and pushed them to the last play. La Salle, we execute and play well enough down the stretch. Saint Joe’s is another home game and the last we’ll have in awhile. It’s important to get this group back and find a win.”


Written By: Glenn Papazian


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