The opening week of the season has been a flurry of action for the City 6, with all 12 men’s and women’s teams getting in at least their season openers over the last five days.
While the CoBL staff was able to get to see almost everything in the city, there were a few out-of-area games that went uncovered over the last few days.
Here are few other storylines and results from this week that we haven’t already written about:
Kayla Padilla (above, in October) had a strong debut in leading Penn to a blowout season-opening win. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Penn WBB shows no rust against Hartford
The last team to start its season was the one that had the longest wait — Penn’s women hadn’t played since March 7, 2020, their regular-season finale, when they took to the court on Sunday afternoon against Hartford, 617 days later. And they didn’t look like they’d missed a single week.
The Quakers gave head coach Mike McLaughlin little to complain about with a runaway 85-42 victory, his 200th in his dozen years on the Penn sidelines. It didn’t take long for it to be clear his squad was in for a special day.
“Very first possession, we win the tap, we come down, run just some motion and Kayla [Padilla] hits a 24-foot three,” he said. “We got a little bit of pressure, turned them over...before we knew it, it was 6-0, then Niki hit another 3, we got off to a great start.”
That ‘great’ start turned into a 30-9 opening quarter and then a 54-16 halftime lead, the game well in hand by that point. The Quakers kept pushing until the end of the third quarter, by which point it was 78-29, before they finally took the foot off the gas pedal.
“I’ve seen it both ways, [teams] super-excited to get out there, try to press and do things that you don’t usually do,” McLaughlin said. “They responded well. The long layoff, it could have gone either way, and this one went our way.”
Padilla, a 5-foot-8 guard and the 2019-20 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, had an easy 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, with five rebounds, four assists and three blocks with only one turnover. Senior Mia Lakstigala, making her first career start, tied her career high with 18 points on 6-11 shooting (4-6 3PT). Sophomore wing Jordan Obi added 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.
McLaughlin has a tricky roster situation to deal with during the non-conference, as his entire junior and senior classes have been handed four-game suspensions for an undisclosed violation of University policy. The suspensions, which affect nine players on the Quakers’ 17-woman roster, will be served out over the opening eight games of the season, though McLaughlin said who exactly sits on what game will be fluid.
Three upperclassmen sat out Sunday: junior Mandy McGurk, senior Meg Hair and junior Silke Milliman. McLaughlin said he played most of his rotation due to it being the first game of the year and wanting to get off to a good start; the next game, against D-III King’s College on Tuesday, should afford him the ability to go without Padilla and some of the other starters.
“We have to figure out a combination, the balance; I need two point guards, need two of this,” he said. “It’s not necessarily if they sit once, they’ll be back the second game; it depends on where the team sits.”
Quaker men have some work to do
As well as the Penn women played in their opening game, their counterparts did not. The Quaker men lost by a combined 56 points in the first couple games, a 105-70 drubbing at the hands of Florida State before a more surprising 87-66 defeat at George Mason.
That Steve Donahue’s squad found it tough to hang with Florida State, which boasts a trio of 7-footers and a roster full of potential pros, while coming off its own two-year layoff, wasn’t much of a concern. Slightly more troublesome was the game against the Patriots, playing under a first-year head coach in Kim English, with a reassembled roster. GMU sprinted out to a 14-2 lead and didn’t look back.
Penn bounced back on Sunday with a 73-68 win at Bucknell, getting 24 points — plus three boards and four assists — from sophomore guard Jordan Dingle. A pair of buckets by Dingle helped regain the Quakers’ lead with just under five minutes to play, before a string of Penn free throws helped ice it.
Dingle has been Penn’s leading scorer through three games (22.3 ppg), with junior Jonah Charles (11.0 ppg) the only other to average double figures thus far. They’re struggling from inside the arc (40.0%), just half a percentage above their 3-point shooting, and it doesn’t help that sophomore wing forward Max Martz hasn’t played yet due to injury. They’ll get back on the court Tues., Nov. 16 vs. Lafayette.
Briana Herlihy (above) and Villanova have had a tough opening couple games. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Villanova women stumble out of the blocks
Having finished on the cusp of NCAA Tournament play each of the past three seasons — especially a year ago, with a record of 17-7 — an 0-2 hole likely wasn’t what the Wildcats had hoped for to open the 2021-22 campaign.
Now, to be fair, one of those two losses came against a top five program and perennial powerhouse, Maryland, and for the first half or so of the eventual 88-67 loss, Villanova hung within striking distance.
Falling by 17 at home to Princeton, though, was less promising. The Tigers are certainly one of the stronger mid-major programs in the women’s game — in their most recent campaign back in 2019-20, they finished with a record of 26-1 — but a blowout home opener loss is never a preferred way to kick things off.
The Wildcats are shooting only 34.8% from the field while allowing opponents to shoot 45.5%, and they’ve gotten to the foul line half as many times as their opponents, with 36 turnovers in two games. Defending Big 5 Player of the Year Maddy Siegrist, a junior forward, hasn’t quite gotten into her groove yet, averaging 10.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg while shooting only 31.3% from the floor.
That said, one of Villanova’s key bright spots to start out has been fifth-year senior Brianna Herlihy, who has led the Wildcats in both of their games with 16 and 12 points apiece. The 6-foot forward also added nine total rebounds between the two contests.
A selection of our week’s D-I coverage you won’t want to miss
— Philly connections abound in La Salle/Albany
— Brugler sisters enjoy once-in-a-lifetime matchup
— Zach Hicks sparks Temple MBB to season-opening win
— Jiselle Thomas shines in Temple debut
— Funk’s late 3-pointer saves St. Joe’s opener
A sampling of how some former area high school stars are faring at the next level
— Northeastern got a nice boost from the return of Katie May (Archbishop Wood) in its 1-1 start to the season. May, the 2018 PIAA Class 5A player of the year, did not play at all last season due to an injury but didn’t have much rust to shake off, going for 15 points on 5-7 FG and 4-6 3FG plus six boards and three steals in the Huskies’ 71-45 opening win over Holy Cross on Nov. 10. May followed that up with nine points, four rebounds and three assists in Saturday’s 63-60 OT loss to Yale.
— Senior season is off to a strong start for Bucknell guard Andrew Funk (Archbishop Wood), despite it being in a losing effort in each of the Bison’s first two contests. Funk led his side in both of its opening-week games, with 14 points against NC State and a resounding 32 in a close loss to Penn. After shooting an inefficient 2-for-9 from downtown against the Wolfpack, Funk picked up the pace with a 7-of-13 3-point shooting effort.
— One of the bigger storylines in college basketball this weekend was the Navy Midshipmen, due to its upset road win over No. 25 Virginia, and junior guard Sean Yoder (Pennridge) played a key role with 15 points and six rebounds in the victory, while shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from distance. Yoder had a more modest performance in Friday’s 20-point loss to Virginia Tech, but has already taken a clear step forward from his first two seasons at Navy, each of which saw him average under three points.
— In her debut with Seton Hall, Katie Armstrong (Perk Valley) nearly had a double-double, tallying nine points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in the Pirates’ 81-68 win over Mount St. Mary’s. Armstrong had five rebounds, two points and two assists in Seton Hall’s loss to Fordham. A 6-foot-2 guard who was a two-time All-MAAC Second Team selection at Fairfield, Armstrong has started in both of her first two games with the Pirates.
— Denae Carter (St. Basil Academy) is contributing right away for Mississippi State. Across her first three games for the Bulldogs, the freshman forward is averaging 7.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per-game while shooting 53.3% from the floor. The Bulldogs are off to a 3-0 start and Carter has played more than 18 minutes in each victory.
— After struggling in her N.C. State debut against No. 1 South Carolina, Diamond Johnson (Neumann Goretti) had 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the Wolfpack’s win over Wofford. She followed that up with an effort of nine points, three rebounds and four assists in N.C. State’s win over Florida on Sunday.
— Bucknell's women weren't able to hang with Ohio State in their season-opening road loss, but Taylor O’Brien (Plymouth-Whitemarsh) — fresh off of a 16.3 ppg junior season — clearly wasn’t afraid of the Power 5 stage. In 30 minutes, the senior guard netted a team-high 17 points — just over a third of her team’s total, 48 — while shooting an efficient 6-of-13 from the field and 4-for-4 at the free throw line. O’Brien added four rebounds and a pair of assists in the loss.
— Seth Lundy’s (Roman Catholic) third year at Penn State is off to an explosive start, after year two saw him develop from a moderate roleplayer to a solid contributor with 10.1 ppg and 4.2 rpg. The Nittany Lions are just one game into their 2021-22 slate — a 16-point win over Youngstown State — but Lundy led the way with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and added six rebounds.
— Maryland is off to a 3-0 start — the Terrapins have knocked off Quinnipiac by 14, George Washington by seven and Vermont by 11 — and a pair of Philadelphia products has played major roles. Fatts Russell (Imhotep), in his first year since transferring to the Power 5 level from Rhode Island, has proven he belongs, scoring 22, 15 and 12 points, while averaging 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists. As for fellow Imhotep alum Donta Scott, he’s been quite active on the glass, reeling in 7.6 boards per game including a 10-rebound outing against George Washington. Scott also found his scoring production in the most recent win over the Catamounts, tallying 13 points on nine attempts.
— Drexel redshirt senior Hannah Nihill (Cardinal O’Hara) has logged a handful of solid stats to date on the young season, but perhaps none are more eye-catching than her 80 total minutes in two games, neither of which went to overtime. In those minutes Nihill has totaled 24 points — including a team-high 14 in a close season-opening loss to Marist — and, arguably more impressively, 11 total assists. In the Dragons opener, Nihill packed the stat sheet, adding four boards, three steals and six dimes to her 14 points.
The Week Ahead
Mon., Nov. 15
Tues., Nov. 16
WBB: Penn vs. King’s (4 PM)
MBB: Villanova vs. Howard (6:30 PM)
MBB: Penn vs. Lafayette (7 PM)
Weds., Nov. 17
MBB: La Salle @ Delaware (7 PM)
WBB: Drexel vs. La Salle (7 PM)
WBB: Temple vs. St. John’s (7 PM)
MBB: Saint Joseph’s vs. Drexel (7 PM)
WBB: Saint Joseph’s @ Monmouth (7 PM)
Thurs., Nov. 18
MBB: Penn @ Utah State (2:30 PM, Myrtle Beach Invitational)
MBB: Temple @ Clemson (4 PM, ESPN2, Charleston SC)
WBB: Penn @ St. Francis Brooklyn (7 PM)
Fri., Nov. 19
MBB: Penn @ TBD (Myrtle Beach Invitational)
MBB: Temple @ TBD (TBD, Charleston SC)
Sat., Nov. 20
MBB: Saint Joseph’s vs. Monmouth (12 PM)
WBB: La Salle vs. Niagara (1 PM)
MBB: Villanova @ Tennessee (1 PM)
WBB: Temple vs. Bucknell (2 PM)
WBB: Drexel @ UMES (2 PM)
WBB: Saint Joseph’s vs. Villanova (3 PM)
MBB: La Salle vs. Army (4 PM)
Sun., Nov. 21
MBB: Penn @ TBD (Myrtle Beach Invitational)
MBB: Villanova @ North Carolina/Purdue (TBD)
MBB: Temple @ TBD (TBD, Charleston SC)