PHILADELPHIA – As Philadelphia Big 5 basketball enters its sixty-fourth year, the Palestra still serves as the primary backdrop for rival match-ups. On Friday, November 15, the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s basketball team hosted the Saint Joseph’s University Hawks in their third game of the season, in which the Quakers prevailed 65-45.
After Penn controlled the tip and scored on a Princess Aghayere bucket, SJU responded with a Michala Clay steal and a Katie Mayock three-pointer, where the Hawks would take their only lead of the game 3-2. Clay finished with six points, five rebounds, and two steals, while Mayock led Saint Joseph’s with 11 points.
Intense on-ball defense from both sides made field goals hard to come by, especially three-pointers. The Hawks shot at 21.7 percent from deep, while the Quakers hit three of their 18 3-point attempts. The difference in this game was on the boards, where Penn held a 50-32 rebound advantage, 13 of which were offensive rebounds. With the loss, SJU slipped to 0-3 on the season, while Penn climbed to 2-1.
Aghayere led both teams in scoring with 16, splashing two three-pointers, grabbing seven rebounds, while adding a blocked shot. Teammate and fellow senior Ashley Russell stood out on both ends of the floor while stuffing the stat sheet with 11 points (4-4 FG), eight rebounds, five assists, and a steal.
Penn head hoach Mike McLaughlin was eager to praise his senior duo.
“Especially Ashley, she’s been in big games, she’s won, she’s won championships as [a starter]. Princess has won as well… I thought Princess was as good as we’ve seen her all year,” said McLaughlin.
Russell was also pleased with the Quakers’ effort against the Hawks.
“It was a great way to come out as a home opener and a Big 5 opener, they both are really big for us. We pride ourselves on the Big 5, especially being in Philly, so just kind of asserting our dominance on our home court is huge, and I’m really happy with how everyone played,” said Russell.
SJU senior guard Alyssa Monaghan led her team with five assists. Although Monaghan went 1-7 from the field, with her only basket coming on a 3-pointer, she is confident that it is only a matter of time before the Hawk’s shots start to fall.
“We just wanted to come in and compete, and do the best we could...I think we need to play harder, get loose balls, be the first to the floor and basically just make more shots. We’re missing a lot, but as the season goes on, that will come to us,” said Monaghan.