PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/15/2018 – Mother Nature gave the Philadelphia area an early winter storm. Snow, ice, rain, wind, the Weather Channel can give you more detail. The climate delayed the start of the game, but couldn’t stop it. It took awhile for Saint Joseph’s to get to the Palestra, but they did. Tip was delayed one hour, and the game was played. Big Five one, Weather zero.
The University of Pennsylvania opened their Palestra schedule and defense of the Big Five Championship they shared with Villanova last year. The Quakers are 1 – 0 in the city series by defeating the Saint Joseph’s Hawks 65 – 45 at the Palestra. Forward Princess Aghayere led Penn with 16 points and 7 rebounds, while frontcourt mate Eleah Parker added a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards.
“Princess and Eleah dictated how the game was going to be played,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “We pounded the ball inside and that was part of what we wanted to do, and they took advantage of it. We were better getting the ball into the post today than we did the first two times. That opened up our perimeter.”
The game would be an inside contest as neither team shot it well from deep. Penn had the advantage as the front line is their strength. Aghayere and Parker shot a combined 11 of 19 from the floor and 7 of 10 from the line. The Red and Blue owned a 38 – 18 points in the paint lead.
“We were supposed to be more aggressive being taller,” Aghayere said. “Post play was big.”
Guard Ashley Russell contributed with 11 points, pulled down 8 rebounds, 4 on offense, and handed out 5 assists.
“Ashley is always there,” McLaughlin said. “She kept the ball alive, had some good pull ups in the first quarter, and that gave us some separation.”
Saint Joseph’s was led by freshman Katie Mayock with 11 points, a career-high, and 4 rebounds. Michala Clay led SJU in rebounding with 5. The young Hawks are having trouble scoring. In the game they shot 31% which is on their average. They need to shoot better. Saint Joe’s is still looking for their first win of the season fin three games and is 0 – 2 in Big Five play. Niagara is next up for Saint Joe’s and that game is on Tuesday.
Penn (2 – 1, 1 – 0) came off a defeat at #1 Notre Dame. The creditable effort gave the Red and Blue confidence coming into this game. The Quakers meet NJIT on Saturday.
“Seeing the best and playing against the best did nothing but help us,” said McLaughlin.
And they start off right in defending the city title.
“Our coach is huge on the Big Five,” Russell said. “Every year he teaches us about the Big Five. We pride ourselves in that and taking it one game at a time. We were happy with how it turned out.
Written By: Glenn Papazian