LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The matchup between Siena Women’s Basketball and Ivy League foe Pennsylvania was billed as an early mid-major battle to watch, and it did not disappoint at the UHY Center on Sunday afternoon. The Quakers (2-1) ultimately used withstood a back-and-forth affair to grab an 85-79 win over the Saints (2-1) in the team’s 2023-24 home opener.
Off to a 2-0 start for the first time in nine years and facing off against a team that returned 12 letter winners from an WNIT appearance last season, the Green and Gold jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks to five early points from sophomore Teresa Seppala making her first appearance of the season. Penn countered with ten straight points and held a slight 17-15 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Coming off her first collegiate double-digit scoring performance, Penn freshman Mataya Gayle exploded for 20 points in the first half alone, including a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc. The Quakers shot 47 percent in the first half and ultimately held a nine-point lead at the half.
Looking to quickly adjust at the intermission, Siena began the second half with a 10-0 run with early three’s from senior Ahniysha Jackson and junior Valencia Fontenelle-Posson sparking momentum to force a Penn timeout with Siena trailing, 39-38. The Saints’ strong third-quarter play to bring them out to as much an eight-point lead at 53-45 with 3:16 remaining in the third quarter.
After Siena shot nearly 69 percent and 5-6 from three in the third quarter, the teams battled it out in the final quarter of play. After having not played in the first three quarters, Penn’s Abby Sharpe came off the bench and netted a pair of three-point shots to begin the final period, allowing the Quakers to re-take the lead with 8:18 remaining. Siena came within four points of the lead twice in the final five minutes of play, but could not come back within one possession, with Penn scoring 29 of the final 49 points of the game to close things out.
Siena’s largest scoring output of the season thus far came on the strength of five players scoring in double figures for just the second time in the last eight seasons. Sophomore Elisa Mevius and junior Anajah Brown each finished with 18 points – a season-high for Brown – while Fontenelle-Posson hit three triples to finish with a season-best 15 points, Seppala debuted with 14, and Jackson finished with ten. Brown and Fontenelle-Posson each recorded six rebounds, while Mevius recorded six steals in a game for the second time in three contests this season.
Penn shot 49.2 percent from the field and held a 39-31 rebounding advantage, with Gayle and season-leading scorer Stina Almqvist each going for 25 points and Almqvist recording a double-double for the second straight game. Siena fell despite shooting 46 percent from the field and forcing 20 turnovers.
Siena will have a nine-day break from gameplay before taking the court at home once again on Tuesday, November 28 against Merrimack at 7 PM.