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City 6 New Years' Roundup (Women's)

12/27/2021, 10:30am EST
By Matthew Ryan and Josh Verlin

Matthew Ryan (@matthewryan02) &
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

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Although the better part of the regular season is still ahead, a lot has come to light during the first month and a half of the college basketball year. There have been big-time wins, shocking losses, breakout performers, and slow starters.

But as conference play kicks into gear, now is an excellent time to dive into how all the City 6 squads have fared thus far.

Here’s a look at each on the women’s side; our men’s roundup can be found here:

Keishana Washington dribbles a basketball

Keishana Washington (above) has scored double digits in all 10 of the Dragons' games this season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Drexel Dragons (8-2, 0-0 CAA)
NET/HerHoopStats Ranking: 97/78

In a sentence: A couple hiccups aside, Amy Mallon’s squad looks quite ready to defend their Colonial title with strong inside-out play led by a trio of seniors.

Best Win: Fresno State, 63-46 (Nov. 27)
One day after suffering their second loss of the season, against Nebraska, the Dragons bounced back with a convincing victory over the Bulldogs. It was on the defensive end that Drexel was especially difficult, holding FSU under 30% from the floor (17-of-58, 29.3%) while shooting .466/.315/.750 as a team in the 17-point decision. A pair of wins over Saint Joseph’s (63-55) and La Salle (71-65) back in November were two more nice feathers in the cap as well.

Worst Loss: Marist, 52-50 (Nov. 10)
There’s only two to choose from, but the Dragons’ two-point loss at home on opening night to a Marist squad that’s currently just 2-7 has to be one they’ll look back at as an opportunity lost if any school wins records come into play later on. The Dragons shot just 3-of-14 (21.4%) from deep and 33.9% (21-of-62) overall, and got 0 points from their bench.

Notable Number: 11.0
One of the best teams in all of Division I at taking care of the ball, the Dragons have only coughed it up 11 times per contest, which is third nationally, according to HerHoopStats; their rate of giving it up on 14.5% of possessions is 10th in the country.

Star Watch: Keishana Washington (Sr./G)
Really, it’s a three-headed Dragon, though the supporting cast is just as important (we’ll get to that in a second). Washington, now the team’s leading scorer (16.1 ppg), has scored in double figures in all 10 games and has 21-plus in each of the last three, grabbing a season-high eight rebounds in the team’s most recent game, a win over Yale on Dec. 14. But there’s also grad. forward Tessa Brugler (13.2 ppg/9.3 rpg) and grad. point guard Hannah Nihill (12.5 ppg, 4.4 apg), a trio that are all hard to stop on the same night.

X-Factor: Mariah Leonard (Gr./F)
Now in her sixth year of college, Leonard is the most experienced on a roster full of it, and even though she doesn’t need to be the Dragons’ leading scorer, she’s still plenty capable; last year, she scored double figures seven times, and has done it three times already this season. The 5-foot-11 forward has shown she can play alongside and off of Brugler, and a productive Leonard would really make the Dragons tough to stop in the CAA.

La Salle Explorers (7-5, 0-0 A-10)
NET/HerHoopStats Ranking: 187/175

In a sentence: Led by head coach Mountain MacGillivray, the Explorers are yet to have back-to-back losses, but their non-conference schedule is little compared to what they’ll see in A-10 play.

Best Win: 72-44 over Sacred Heart (Dec. 18)
In the victory, the Explorers put on an absolute clinic defensively. Only one Pioneer scored in double figures and Sacred Heart shot just 31.6% from the field while turning the ball over 22 times. Sacred Heart’s 44 points are the least La Salle has given up in a game since the 2019-20 season and a season-low for the Pioneers.

Worst Loss: 66-56 to Villanova (Dec. 21)
Following their best win of the season, the Explorers put together their worst loss, which, in reality, wasn’t that bad. In all five of La Salle’s losses, it was considered an underdog, according to HerHoopStats. While its defense was solid, holding Villanova to 36.4% shooting from the field, the Explorers were held to their second lowest point total of the season. The game was top-heavy for La Salle as 76.8% of its points came from the trio of Molly Masciantonio, Claire Jacobs and Gabby Crawford.

Notable Number: 3PT Rate (40.4%)
With a three point percentage of 30.8, the Explorers are shooting 40.4% of their shots from beyond the arc. According to HerHoopStats, that rate ranks 18th in college basketball. La Salle has three players who attempt more than four 3s a game: Claire Jacobs (5.3 3PA/41.3 3PT%), Amy Jacobs (5.3/21.9) and Kayla Spruill (4.3/42.3).

Star Watch: Kayla Spruill (Sr./G/F)
Following a 2020-21 A-10 All-Conference Second Team selection, Spruill once again looks like she’ll be taking home some accolades after the season. She is averaging 14.8 ppg on impressive 45.2/42.3/91.1 shooting splits, adding nine rebounds per contest. The Explorer’s success in the latter part of the season will be contingent on how much the 6-0 Spruill can make her presence felt.

X-Factor: Gabby Crawford (Jr./F)
At her third school in four years, Crawford got her first taste of action as an Explorer and didn’t disappoint. In her two outings on Dec. 18 and 21, she scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds, and in the latter game, she showed off her range, going 2-for-3 from deep. If the 6-2 Crawford can continue to play at a high level, it will be a massive boost for La Salle in A-10 play.

Kayla Padilla dribbles a basketball

Kayla Padilla (above) has scored at least 29 points in three of her seven games this season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Penn Quakers (4-7, 0-0 Ivy)
NET/HerHoopStats Ranking: 171/113

In a sentence: An early strong start (despite suspensions) devolved into a six-game losing streak; the Quakers are hoping a three-week layoff gave them time to fix things heading into Ivy League play.

Best Win: N/A
Penn’s four wins all came before the calendar turned to December, and they all happened while head coach Mike McLaughlin was shuffling his nine juniors and seniors through rotating four-game suspensions over the course of the team’s first eight games. They came against a D-III program, a Hartford program transitioning to D-III, a 3-6 St. Francis Brooklyn squad and a 2-6 UC San Diego squad. But since they’ve had a full squad, they’ve lost three straight. Thus, they’re still really looking for their first quality win of the season.

Worst Loss: Saint Joseph’s, 83-70 (Dec. 7)
The Quakers’ first game with the whole team back was a 22-point loss against a Duke team that was two days from being ranked, but the follow-up seemed a prime opportunity, with St. Joe’s coming to the Palestra. But Penn let a pair of SJU rookies carve them up inside, as Laila Fair and Talya Brugler combined for 38 points and 14 rebounds, and the 40-26 advantage on points in the paint were a major reason the Hawks picked up the Big 5 win.

Notable Number: Free Throw Rate (13.6%)
One area the Quakers have really struggled is getting to the foul line, their free throw rate (a measure of free-throws divided by field goals, or an approximate idea of how often teams are getting to the line) is 305th in Division I, according to HerHoopStats. They only get 13.4% of their points from the foul line, which is 328th. Part of that is due to a heavy reliance on the 3-point shot, but getting some more points at the foul line can’t hurt. 

Star Watch: Kayla Padilla (Jr./G)
The 2019-20 Big 5 Rookie of the Year has taken her game to another level after sitting last year out. Padilla, a 5-9 guard out of California, has been on an absolute tear in the seven games she’s played this season, averaging 23.7 ppg while shooting 45.7% overall and 44.1% from 3-point range, scoring at least 29 points on three separate occasions, including a 36-point outing against Memphis.

X-Factor: Kennedy Suttle (Sr./F)
The Quakers have been getting steady, strong production from junior forward Jordan Obi (13.8 ppg/7.1 rpg) and senior guard Mia Lakstigala (12.9 ppg/7.0 rpg). They could use some more interior punch, and that’s where Suttle comes in; the 6-0 senior forward has shown through games like an 11-point, 17-rebound effort against SFBK and her 11-point, 12-rebound double-double against Duke that she’s capable. She’s averaging 7.9 ppg and 8.1 rpg and those types of outings in Ivy play will come in handy.

Saint Joseph’s Hawks (4-7, 0-0 A-10)
NET/HerHoopStats Ranking: 184/171

In a sentence: After a six-game losing streak, a youth movement has led to an injection of optimism on Hawk Hill, but the A-10 will be tough.

Best Win: Penn, 83-70 (Dec. 7)
It wasn't the win that snapped St. Joe's six-game losing streak -- that one came against Yale, three days prior to this one -- but scoring 83 points against a Penn squad that had all its players back was undoubtedly the high-point of the season thus far; four players scored in double figures as the Hawks shot 47.5% overall while holding the Quakers to 39.7% shooting, and St. Joe's only turned it over seven times while committing only 13 fouls all game.

Worst Loss: Stetson, 51-48 (Nov. 27)
St. Joe's doesn't really have any bad losses this year, but one they certainly wish they could get back was their second of three games in Katy, Texas. In failing to score 50 points for the third times in a four-game stretch, the Hawks shot 16-of-42 (38.1%) and turned it over 21 times, getting outscored 22-10 in the paint as nothing came easily. Their 55-39 loss to Villanova on Nov. 20 was a close runner-up in this category, purely for the offensive doldrums. 

Notable Number: 10
As head coach Cindy Griffin has tooled with her rotation this season, she’s had 10 different players with at least one start, and all but one have started multiple games; nobody has started all 11. Her lineup seems to have settled somewhat in the last few weeks as St. Joe’s found its footing, but don’t be surprised to see her mix things up again if the wins aren’t there in league play.

Star Watch: Kaliah Henderson (Jr./G)
It’s been an interesting season for Henderson, who was the team’s leading scorer a year ago (11.4 ppg). She started the season off well, scoring 20 against Drexel and 16 against Monmouth, but didn’t play a minute of the team’s trip to Texas, and then lately has been coming off the bench. But she scored a season-high 21 points in 34 minutes against Vanderbilt, and is back up to 11.3 ppg. How will she be used the rest of the season? Stay tuned.

X-Factor: Katie Jekot (Gr./G)
Jekot seemingly fills any role the Hawks ask of her; their fifth-year point guard is typically not a shoot-first type, but she’s gone for 20-plus twice in St. Joe’s last three games, while still dishing four-or-more assists in seven of the 10 games she’s played this year. The 5-9 Cumberland Valley grad is realizing St. Joe’s needs all it can get from her this year in the scoring column, and she’s got the confidence to go off. You can also include “any rookie” in this category, including Laila Fair (7.6 ppg), Mackenzie Smith (6.6 ppg) and Talya Brugler (6.5 ppg).

Mia Davis shoots a basketball

Mia Davis (above) has registered three double-doubles so far this season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Temple Owls (5-6, 0-0 AAC)
NET/HerHoopStats Ranking: 152/185

In a sentence: Coming off a .500 season, Tonya Cardoza’s squad has certainly had its ebbs and flows throughout non-conference play.

Best Win: 59-46 over Bucknell (Nov. 20)
In an all-around team effort, Tiarra East led the Owls to the upset victory on their home floor with a career-high 16 points off the bench. Mia Davis was the only other Owl to eclipse double figures, however, Jasha Clinton and Jiselle Thomas chipped in nine points each. Bucknell’s 46 points were a season-low for the Bison and Temple’s defense, which held Bucknell to 29.3% shooting from the field.

Worst Loss: 73-63 to Saint Joseph’s (Dec. 11)
Coming off three straight road wins, the Owls returned to the Liacouras Center for their second Big 5 game and picked up their first loss. Most of the offensive load came from Clinton and Davis who had 24 and 18 points, respectively. The Owls’ defense had their second worst scoring performance of the season and allowed the Hawks to shoot 48.1% from the field and 52.9% from three.

Notable Number: 3PT% (25.8%)
Of the 356 college basketball teams, only 53 have a worse three point percentage than Temple’s 25.8%, according to HerHoopStats. Aniya Gourdine (37.5% 3PT) is the only Owl that has played in more than half the games who shoots over 30% from deep for a Temple offense that is the bottom half of the nation in scoring.

Star Watch: Mia Davis (Gr./F)
In her fifth season as a starter, Davis, the AAC Preseason Player of the Year, has done nothing but shown why she was awarded such a prestigious honor. The 6-1 Davis is averaging 17.2 ppg, along with 7.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Davis has scored in double figures in all 11 games this season and has registered three double-doubles.

X-Factor: Jasha Clinton (Fr./G)
After being named a unanimous AAC All-Freshman selection a season ago, Clinton’s production has taken a step back. Her points per game are down to 7.8 after being at 14.4 last year, and her shooting splits are just 28.7/26.5/68.8. If Clinton can return to last year’s form, it will give the Owls a massive boost for American play.

Villanova Wildcats (6-5, 0-2 Big East)
NET/HerHoopStats Ranking: 128/105

In a sentence: In the second season of the Denise Dillon era, the Wildcats got off to a slow start, but now with their star player back in the lineup, there has been a change of tides.

Best Win: 56-52 over No. 23 Oregon State (Dec. 12)
Hosting a ranked opponent, Maddy Siegrist’s 28 points and nine rebounds propelled the Wildcats to the upset victory. Villanova had the lead for the majority of the game, and a clutch free throw by Siegrist with three seconds remaining sealed the deal and gave the Wildcats a 1-0 record versus ranked teams.

Worst Loss: 68-62 to Temple (Nov. 27)
On a two game win streak, the Wildcats were upset at home in a game that HerHoopStats gave Villanova an 89% chance to win. Siegrist was out for the Wildcats and Lior Garzon led the way for ‘Nova with 22 points. The game was back and forth and entered the fourth quarter tied but clutch responses down the stretch by Temple led to the Wildcats falling under .500.

Notable Number: FG % (37.2%)
For a team that struggles offensively, a large part of that can be attributed to its efficiency. The Wildcats are only shooting 37.2% from the field, 270th best in college basketball according to HerHoopStats. The majority of their struggles come from inside the arc where they are only making 41.6% of their attempts.

Star Watch: Maddy Siegrist (Jr./F)
After an impressive redshirt sophomore campaign, Siegrist has been as advertised when on the court. The 6-1 forward has only played in five games this season, but during that time is averaging 21.8 ppg on 40.4/29.2/78.6 shooting splits, while grabbing 9.2 rebounds and dishing out 1.6 assists a night. On Dec. 14, Siegrist was named USWBA Player of the Week, thanks to her 32 point, 13 rebound average across two victories.

X-Factor: Lior Garzon (Soph./F)
In the six games with Siegrist out, the Wildcats looked for Garzon to be the number one option, and for the most part, she delivered. During that stretch, Garzon averaged 16 ppg and kept Villanova afloat with a 3-3 record. With Siegrist back, the one-two punch of her and Garzon could be lethal.


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