PHILADELPHIA - Bring a date to The Palestra this weekend. The Quakers (14-5, 4-2 Ivy) match up with Yale (10-10, 4-2 Ivy) on Valentine’s Day and then host their annual Pink Game the following night against Brown (8-12, 2-4 Ivy). Buy two tickets for the price of one at ‘Date Night’ on Friday and then come for the free pink t-shirts, moustaches, strawberry milk and pom-poms to help support the fight against breast cancer on Saturday. Tip off for both games is at 7 p.m.
Catching the Game
If you can't make it out to The Palestra this weekend, you can watch both games on the Penn Sports Network. Live stats can be found here and live twitter updates(@PennWBB) are also available throughout each contest. A complete recap and box score can then be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of each game.
Bring your date to Friday's Valentine's Day game and get two tickets for the price of one! Enter DATENIGHT as the special offers code. Select couples will win a special Sweetheart Package (hint: chocolate may be involved!). The following night, Brown will visit the Cathedral of College Basketball for Penn’s annual Pink Game—fans will receive FREE pink t-shirts, pink moustaches and pom-poms in addition to free strawberry milk courtesy of the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association.
This marks Penn’s 73rd meeting with both Yale and Brown. Penn has won each of the last three meetings with Brown and five of the last six—the lone loss coming in overtime at The Palestra in 2012—and now holds a slight 37-35 advantage in the all-time series. Yale has won eight of the last nine over the Quakers, including four straight at The Palestra, and leads the all-time series, 38-34. Penn’s last win over the Bulldogs at The Palestra was in 2009—one year prior to the start of head coach Mike McLaughlin’s tenure at Penn. In his fifth season, Coach McLaughlin is 1-7 against Yale and 5-3 against Brown.
About the Bulldogs
Yale split its first two Ivy League weekends after sweeping Brown. The Bulldogs were 6-8 in non-conference play with losses to Miami and Army (Penn beat both those opponents). Both Penn and Yale beat Dartmouth at home and Columbia on the road, but the Bulldogs lost to Harvard and Cornell. The Bulldogs are tops in the Ivy League in turnover margin (+3.05) and rank second in steals (9.0/gm). They are the top offensive rebounding unit in the Ivies and are third in made threes (6.2/gm). However, Yale is last in the league in defending the three (38.1%) and in free throw percentage (66.5%). Sarah Halejian is third in the league with 15.6 points per game. She is also tops on the team with 3.3 assists per game and 2.1 steals. Meredith Boardman leads the team with 6.2 rebounds per game. Janna Graf is the team’s top three-point shooter (42.4%), while Emmy Allen leads the team with 18 blocks.
About the Bears
Brown has split each of the first two Ivy League weekends after dropping the opening two games to Yale. The Bears finished the non-conference season at 6-8 with losses at Army and NJIT (Penn beat both those teams at home). Like the Quakers, Brown beat Columbia on the road and Dartmouth at home. But the Bears lost to Harvard and at Cornell. Expect a lot from beyond the arc from the Bears, who boast the top three-point shooting team in the league and eighth-best in the nation (38.5%). Brown is also tops in the Ivy in free throw percentage and third in the league in steals and turnover margin, but last in rebounding. Sophie Bikofsky leads the nation in three-point percentage (51.1%) and is fourth in the country with 3.4 threes per game. Either Lauren Clarke or Bikofsky has led Brown in scoring in every game this season. Clarke is the league’s leading scorer with 16.9 points per game. Bikofsky averages 14.1 and leads the team with 4.2 rebounds per contest.
Prior to this season, Penn had just three winning streaks of seven or more games in its entire history, and only one that surpassed seven games. This weekend, the Quakers are aiming for their second seven (and possibly) eight-game win streak of the season. The 2013-14 Quakers took hold of the second-longest winning streak in program history with an eight-game non-conference win streak earlier this season. Prior to this year, the Quakers had won seven straight in 2004-05—the first season under then-head coach Patrick Knapp - and seven in a row during the 1999-00 season in the first season under the program’s all-time winningest head coach, Kelly Greenberg. But only once before this season had the Quakers won eight or more consecutive games—the longest win streak in Penn history came in 2000-01 when the Quakers went 22-6 and won their last 21 regular season games.
Rising in the Records
Senior captain Alyssa Baron is the only player in school history with 1,600 career points and 300 career assists. She is three points from reaching third-place among Penn’s all-time leading scorers. See pages 17-18 of the Penn game notes for a complete breakdown of where she ranks among these and many other categories in the Penn and Ivy League all-time record books, as well as a full statistical breakdown and complete career honors.
Freshman Sydney Stipanovich, who broke her one-week-old single-game school record with nine blocks against Harvard on Feb. 1, is fourth in the nation and leads the Ivy League with 69 blocks in 19 games—there are five Ivy League teams with fewer blocks. The next closest Ivy player is Harvard’s Temi Fagbenle with 30 blocks in 20 games. In addtion, Stipanovich is already second among Penn’s all-time single-season top 10 and is just the second player in Penn history to record 50 blocks in a single season. The only other player to do so was Katarina Poulsen, who owns the school record with 72 blocks in 1993-94 and also had 62 during the 1992-93 campaign. Poulsen also holds the career mark with 194 where junior Kara Bonenberger ranks fourth with 85.
Freshman Sydney Stipanovich’s 3.59 blocks per game are tops among any freshman in the nation. As a team, the Quakers rank 13th in the NCAA in blocked shots with 5.6 per game. Penn is also one of the most disciplined teams in the country as the Quakers have committed the ninth-fewest fouls among 343 Division I schools.
We’re No. 6! (of 343)
Even more impressive among the NCAA stats, the Quakers are sixth in the nation in field goal percentage defense. Only five teams in the country are tougher to score on than Penn. The Quakers allow opponents to shoot at just a 34.5 percent clip. The top-ranked and undefeated UCONN Huskies lead the nation and hold the opposition to 31.1 percent. Penn also leads the Ivy League in most defensive categories and all of Penn’s Ivy League team and individual rankings are listed on page 8 of the game notes.
Penn finished the non-conference season ranked last in the Ancient Eight in three-point percentage at 27.2% (64-of-235). But in Ivy League play (five games), the Quakers lead the league at 40.6 percent (28-of-69) from beyond the arc. That's due in part of the hot shooting of junior Kathleen Roche who is a league-best 8-of-13 (62.5%) from three in conference play. In addition, senior Alyssa Baron has averaged 18.8 points per game in Ivy play - also a league high. Sydney Stipanovich's 4.2 blocks per game are more than any Ivy League team has averaged in conference play - Penn leads the league at 5.6 blocks per game and Yale is second in the Ivies at 4.0 per 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 40-8 (.833) when they score 60 points, including 13-0 this season. In comparison, the Quakers are just 18-68 (.212) when they’ve scored less than 60 points under Coach McLaughlin, including 1-5 this season. The trend continues defensively. Over the last four seasons, the Red and Blue are 12-46 (.207) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a healthy winning record of 46-30 (.605).
Penn is 14-3 in its last 17 games ... Penn has gone 8-0 in December and February ... Over the last two seasons, the Quakers have won the first game of the Ivy doubleheader seven of the last eight times ... At least two Quakers have score in double figures in all but one game this year ... Senior Alyssa Baron has started all 106 games to start her career ... Sydney Stipanovich’s five double-doubles this year are the most in a season at Penn since Jennifer Fleischer finished with seven in 2005-06 ... Penn has won 22 of the last 23 games when outrebounding its opponent ... The Quakers are 10-0 this year (and 28-1 over the last three seasons) when shooting better than 40 percent ... Penn has reached 70 points in four of the last six games and is 15-1 under Coach McLaughlin when scoring more than 70 points (only loss in double overtime, 88-84, at Harvard in 2011).
Tough Start, Tough Stretch
Though the Quakers started 0-2 and dropped three straight in mid-January, they all came against some tough competition. Entering the weekend, Penn’s first two opponents this season are a combined 38-7 (.844). St. Francis Brooklyn is 15-7 and No. 2 Notre Dame is undefeated through 23 games. In all, Penn’s five losses have come against teams with a combined record of 86-24 (.782).
On the Clock
Our favorite new series continues this week with sophomore Rayne Connell on the clock...
Charge for a Cure!
For the fourth straight year the women’s basketball team is dedicating its entire season to the fight against several diseases and the team needs your help. In its first three years, 146 donors have joined the “Charge for a Cure” program which helped the team raise nearly $9,000. Each month of the season will be devoted to help a specific disease with personal ties to the program. Fans can pledge a donation per charge and the amount of charges are totaled each month. The money raised will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (Nov/Dec), Dut Jok Youth Foundation (Jan.), Autism/Play 4Kay (Feb.) and Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s (March). To join the team in Charge for a Cure, contact Eric Dolan at firstname.lastname@example.org with your pledge or any questions. For more information, click here.
Two Penn Wins Would...
... mark an eight-game winning streak and match the second-longest win streak in school history.
... be the first 6-1 start in Ivy play since 2003-04 team went 7-0 en route to the Ivy title.
... make the Quakers 16-5 overall and 6-1 in Ivy play.
A Penn Win Would...
... mark back-to-back winning season for the first time since 2003-04 (17-11) and 2004-05 (15-12).
... make the Quakers 5-2 through the first half of Ivy play for the second straight season.
... make the Quakers 15-6 overall and 5-2 in Ivy play.
Two Penn Losses Would...
... mark the second in three games to Brown at home and the fifth straight at home to Yale.
... make the Quakers 14-7 overall and 4-3 in Ivy play.
... be less good than two wins.
Last Time Out
Senior captain Alyssa Baron combined for 53 points in the wins at Cornell and Columbia as the Quakers extended their winning streak to six games. On Friday night, Baron had 28 points, including 13 during a decisive 17-0 run early in the second half. That run gave the Quakers a 16-point lead and Cornell was never within single digits again. After a hot start on Saturday, Columbia pulled an 11-point deficit down to three at the break and tied the game early in the second half. But the Quakers scored six straight and never trailed again. With the Lions within four in the closing minutes, Baron scored four straight to eliminate any late suspense.
A four-game road swing awaits the Quakers as Penn will make two trips through New England in the next two weeks. The Red and Blue are at Harvard (Feb. 21) and Dartmouth (Feb. 22) followed by trips to Brown (Feb. 28) and Yale (March 1).