Three Saint Joseph’s Players Set Career Records in 83 – 70 Win Over Penn
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/7/2021 –
The Saint Joseph’s Hawks won their second game in a row, and got their first Women’s Big Five victory downing the University of Pennsylvania Quakers at the Palestra. Hawks forward Laila Fair, guard Katie Jekot, and forward Talya Brugler set new career-marks in the win. But the city series victory is what is important to the team.
“They’re huge,” said Jekot. “The Big Five has been a big part of my family the past couple of years. But just getting this one, I think it is the first time we beat Penn while I have been at Saint Joe’s. It’s really huge for us.”
Freshman Laila Fair records her first double-double scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, both collegiate-bests for the forward from Middlesex, NJ. Jekot added 20 points and drained five from beyond the arc, a record for her. Tayla Brugler has a new personal record getting 18 points in the game. Guard Kaliah Henderson also scored in double figures getting 16 points.
The Hawks started quickly behind the scoring of Jekot who had 9 of the first 14 points for Saint Joe’s. The ball falling early lifted her confidence.
“That definitely helps hitting those threes,” Jekot said. “It helps on the defensive end too because it gets me going, looking for steals going up the court. My teammates found me in places that I needed to go, so it was really helpful.”
More scoring balance gave the Hawks a 44 – 32 lead at halftime, the most points scored in a half by the team.
Penn began to answer in the third quarter employing pressure defense. The Quakers pulled to within 54 – 53 at the end of the third quarter outscoring the Hawks 21 – 10 in those ten minutes.
And guard Kayla Padilla was finding the range for the Red and Blue. Padilla scored a game-high 31 points making 10 of 20 from the floor and 5 of 11 from distance. She also handed out 5 assists. Padilla felt a sense of urgency to get the team going.
“We knew we were able to get back within the half,” said Padilla. “I knew if we were able to push especially on the offensive end and just be able to play the game, we’d be a little bit more motivated to make changes on the defensive end too. I was just trying to motivate my team by doing what I can do.”
With 9:12 to play the Red and Blue got to within one at 56 – 55 on a driving layup by Padilla. Saint Joe’s responded with a layup by Fair and a three-pointer by Jekot. The mini-run gave momentum back to the Hawks.
“We had the ball and we turn the ball over, and open court turnovers really break your back,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “You try to run a set, we turn the ball over, they get a run out. We lost a little bit there.”
The Hawks closed it out getting the ball to Jekot to run the offense. SJU spread the lead to double-digits. The experience of the graduate guard put her in the position to steer the team to a win.
“What we do goes through KJ,” Griffin said about the poise of her point guard who had 4 assists and only 2 turnovers in over 38 minutes of play. “The more she touches the ball in decision making situations, the better we are. Great ball handler, great decision maker, a great passer. That’s who we are.”
Saint Joe’s (3 – 6) ends a three-game losing streak to Penn, and posts a 1 – 2 record in the city series. There is another Big Five game to play on Saturday against Temple, who is unbeaten in the round robin. That game is on North Broad Street.
“What a great game, a typical Big Five battle,” said Griffin. “We have been coming into our own as of late. We had a big win against Yale and that helped our confidence.”
“We are going to have a lot more confidence playing together now,” Fair said.
Penn (4 – 6) looks to break a four-game losing streak on Friday at Stony Brook. The last chance to get a Big Five win for the Red and Blue is in their next home game which is on January 11 when the host Temple.
Written By: Glenn Papazian