PHILADELPHIA - Penn returns all five starters from a team that earned the program’s first-ever postseason victory and reached the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational. The Quakers (0-0) look to build on that success when they open the 2013-14 on Saturday against St. Francis Brooklyn (0-0) at The Palestra. Tip off is at 2 p.m. The game can be seen on the Penn Sports Network.
Catching the Game
If you can't make it out to The Palestra, fans can watch the game on the Penn Sports Network as part of the Ivy League Digital Network. Live stats can be found at PennAthletics.com and live twitter updates (@PennWBB) are also available throughout the contest. A complete recap and box score can then be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.
In the Series vs. St. Francis Brooklyn - Eighth Meeting
This will mark the sixth straight year these two teams have met and the eighth meeting overall. Penn has won each of the first seven meetings, but the last two meetings have been decided in dramatic fashion. In the 2011 season opener at The Palestra, Penn tied the game with 18.7 seconds left and won in overtime, while last year, the Quakers completed the largest comeback in program history when they overcame an 18-point second-half deficit and sunk the game-winner with 6.4 seconds to go. Penn is 3-0 all-time at home against St. Francis Brooklyn and head coach Mike McLaughlin is 4-0 against the Terriers.
About the Terriers
St. Francis Brooklyn finished the 2012-13 season with an 11-19 overall mark and a 8-10 record in the Northeast Conference. The Terriers secured the seventh seed in the conference tournament—the first time they were postseason bound in five years. This season, the Terriers were predicted to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches’ poll. The Terriers’ top returning scorer was a 2013 all-Northeast Conference third team selection, Sarah Benedetti (11.6 ppg). Junior guard Eilidh Simpson was the team’s second-leading scorer at 9.4 points per contest. 2013 All-Northeast Conference Rookie Team selection Leah Fechko was the team’s leading rebounder last season, pulling down 5.4 caroms a contest. In all, St. Francis Brooklyn returns all five starters from last season and a total of 13 letter-winners.
Penn’s run to the semifinals of the WBI put them at 31 games last season, breaking a school record and tying the Ivy League mark. The only other Ivy League team to play 31 games in a season was Dartmouth in 2007-08. The Big Green played 29 regular season games, an Ivy playoff and an NCAA Tournament game that year.
In 2009-10, Penn won just two games—the fewest wins in program history. Just three seasons later, the Quakers posted the second-most wins in program history. In addition, Penn’s nine non-league wins last year matched the school record set in 1999-00. The winning ways were also evident throughout league play where the Quakers won nine games for just the sixth time in school history.
- Alyssa Baron and Kara Bonenberger each started 31 games to break Anca Popvici’s school record of 29 from 2007-08.
- Brianna Bradford’s five threes in the first round against Howard set a program postseason record to top the four Mika Austin made against UCONN in the NCAA Tournament in 2004.
- The 2013 WBI was the fourth postseason appearance in program history and just the third since since the start of the Women’s NCAA in 1981.
- Penn’s win over Howard in the First Round marked the program’s first-ever postseason victory.
- Penn’s semifinal matchup at Detroit on March 27th marked the latest into March the Quakers have ever played.
At least one freshman has been in the starting lineup for the Quakers in 83 of the last 87 games ... Penn was 15-2 when leading at the half last season and 3-11 when trailing ... The Quakers had fewer turnovers than their opponents in a remarkable 26 of 31 games last season (17-9 in those games) ... The Quakers outrebounded their opponent just 10 times last year, but were 10-0 in those games ... Penn has used the same starting lineup in 27 of the last 28 games (18-9) ... Alyssa Baron has started 87 consecutive games for the Quakers ... Three different Quakers scored more than 20 points in a game last season (Baron, Roche, Ray) and Kathleen Roche’s 19 against Detroit were the most scored in a postseason game.
Magic Number: 60
The statistic that may most indicate a Penn win or loss? 60 points. Since head coach Mike McLaughlin took over at Penn, the Quakers are 28-8 (.777) when they score 60 points, including 10-3 last year. In comparison, the Quakers are just 16-63 (.203) when they’ve scored less than 60 points under Coach McLaughlin. The trend continues defensively. Over the last four seasons, the Red and Blue are 9-43 (.173) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a winning record of 35-28 (.556), including nine straight wins.
After not starting a senior until Senior Night last season, coach McLaughlin’s starting five will likely feauture two fourth-year players on a regular basis this season: first-team All-Ivy guard Alyssa Baron and a fully-healed Meghan McCullough.
Climbing the Record Books
Senior Alyssa Baron added another 12 points in the 2012-13 season finale and finished with 437 points last season. She is currently the fourth-highest scorer in program history with 1,373 for her career. This season, Baron will chase Kirsten Brendel (1,656 points) for third place and Jewel Clark (1,743) for second. Clark is also 10th all-time in scoring in Ivy history. Former Quaker Diana Caramanico holds the Ivy League scoring record at 2,415 points. Baron became the 19th Penn women’s player to reach 1,000 career points on Nov. 30, 2012. She is the third-fastest Quaker to accomplish that milestone (60 games) and the first since Carrie Biemer topped the landmark in 2008. Only Penn’s all-time leading scorer (man or woman), Caramanico (48 games) and Mandy West (52 games) were faster to 1,000 career points.
2013-14 Team Captains
All four seniors, Alyssa Baron, Kristen Kody, Meghan McCullough and Courtney Wilson will serve as captains this season. Baron is a reigning unanimous first-team All-Ivy performer and has led Penn in scoring in each of her first three seasons. Kody has appeared in 81 games and McCullough started the first 59 of her career before suffering a season-ending knee injury last season. Wilson finished second in the Ivy League in blocks last season which ranked as sixth-most all-time in a single season at Penn.
Penn Picked to Finish Third in Ivy League
Picked to finish third in the Ivy Preseason Media Poll, Penn also received a first-place vote, marking the first time since 2009 a school other than Princeton or Harvard earned a vote as the preseason favorite. The 98 points are 22 more than the Quakers received the previous year. Just three years ago, Penn was picked to finish last in the poll. Last season, Penn was picked to finish fourth in the Ivy League and finished in third place with a 9-5 Ivy League record—the program’s best finish since 2003-04.
A Penn Win Would...
... be the third opening night win in the past four years.
... be the third in the last four games dating back to last season.
... be the third straight at home.
... mark the third win in the last four years in a season opener and home opener.
... be the eighth straight win over the Terriers.
A Penn Loss Would...
... be the first loss to St. Francis Brooklyn in program history.
... mark the second consecutive loss in a season opener.
... be less good than a win.
Last Time Out
You wouldn’t expect the season to end any other way. Penn battled to the final buzzer. Unfortunately, a late rally and the game-tying three fell short as time expired. The second-seeded Quakers lost at top-seed Detroit, 71-68, in the WBI Semifinals at Calihan Hall. Penn battled back from a 14-point deficit in the final six minutes and a six-point deficit in the final 20 seconds, but a last second game-tying three hit the front of the rim and bounced away as time expired.
Penn has a two-week break before they welcome one of the nation’s premier teams to The Palestra, Notre Dame will visit the Cathedral of College Basketball for the first time on Nov. 23, Penn is 0-3 all-time against the Fighting Irish and all three were played in South Bend. Tip off with the ACC foe is set for 3 p.m.