PHILADELPHIA - Penn won 12 of its final 13 Ivy League games to claim its first Ivy title and NCAA Tournament berth since 2003-04. The Quakers (22-6, 12-2 Ivy), who have tied a school record with 22 wins this season, earned the highest seed in program history at No. 12 and will take on fifth-seeded Texas (21-11, 11-7 Big 12) in the First Round on Sunday at 3 p.m. The matchup from the Comcast Center in College Park, Md., will be shown nationally on ESPN.
Catching the Game
For those that can’t make it to the Comcast Center, the game is being televised nationally on ESPN. It can also be seen worldwide on ESPN3.com for free. 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.
In the Series vs. Texas
This will be the first meeting between these two programs. The Quakers are 1-3 all-time against the Big 12, including 0-1 under Coach McLaughlin.
Penn’s No. 12 seed is the highest in program history and tied for the fourth-highest in Ivy League history. Princeton was seeded ninth each of the last two seasons and 11th in 2010. The Tigers lost all three of those games with the closest contest a 67-64 defeat to Kansas State in 2012.
NCAA Tournament History
In Penn’s two previous trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Quakers were a No. 15 seed and lost to the host school in the first round on each occasion. In 2001, the Red and Blue fell to Texas Tech, 100-57, in Lubbock, Texas. Three years later, the Quakers lost to second-seeded UConn, 91-55, in Bridgeport, Conn. Penn’s largest and latest lead was two, 7-5, at the 16:15 mark against the Red Raiders. Penn never led against the Huskies.
Ivy Tourney History
Ivy League teams are a combined 1-21 in NCAA Tournament play. The only win for the Ancient Eight is arguably the most famous upset in tournament history. Harvard beat Stanford, 71-67, on March 14, 1997 to become the first—and still the only—No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed (men or women).
Penn’s Postseason Experience
For the first time in program history, the Quakers are headed to the postseason in back-to-back seasons. Last year, Penn posted the first two postseason wins in program history. The Quakers beat Howard (65-60) and Fairfield (49-48) at home in the opening two rounds of the Women’s Basketball Invitational. Penn then lost in the semifinals at Detroit, 71-68.
Against the Big 12
Penn is 1-3 all-time against current Big 12 Conference members. Penn’s lone win was over Kansas State, 71-60, at the BYU Holiday Classic in Provo, Utah on Dec. 29, 1991. The following season, the Quakers lost at Baylor (72-60) on Dec. 3, 1993. Penn lost to Texas Tech in the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game on March 16, 2001, and most recently fell to Iowa State (78-38) on Nov. 27, 2009 at Northwestern’s Roger L. White Invitational—just the program’s fourth game under head coach Mike McLaughlin as Penn finished 2-26 that season.
Only one other Ivy League team has ever beaten a Big 12 opponent—when Dartmouth defeated Kansas in overtime, 86-78, at the Blue Sky Classic on Dec. 29, 2003.
Penn’s last trip to College Park—36 years ago—was also for a postseason game. The Quakers lost to the host Terrapins, 110-44, in the EAIAW Tournament on March 3, 1978 and then lost to Howard in a consolation the following day, 77-59. In all, Penn is 4-11 in the state of Maryland, which includes this season’s 85-51 win over Morgan State on Jan. 8.
Record vs. Tourney Teams
Penn went 1-2 against this year’s NCAA Tournament teams. The Quakers lost to No. 2 Notre Dame, 76-64, at The Palestra on Nov. 23. Penn trailed by just five, 27-22, with a little over two minutes left in the half, but the Fighting Irish scored the last seven points to make the score 34-22 at the break. Also at The Palestra, the Quakers beat Army, 67-57, on Dec. 11, in a back-and-forth affair until the final minutes. Then on Jan. 17, Penn was within two in the final minute, but ultimately lost on the road to Big 5 rival Saint Joseph’s.
Record vs. Postseason Teams
Overall, Penn played 10 games and went 6-4 against postseason teams this season. In addition to a 1-2 mark against NCAA Tournament teams, the Quakers were 4-2 against WNIT opponents, which includes two wins over Harvard, a loss at the buzzer at Villanova, a season split with Princeton and the program’s first-ever ACC victory at Miami (Fla.). Penn also won by eight on the road against Bucknell, who qualified for the WBI.
Penn’s win at Princeton on March 11...
... clinched the program’s third Ivy title and NCAA Tournament berth and first since 2003-04.
... tied the school record for most wins in a season (22 in 2000-01).
... marked the second-most Ivy wins in school history (14 in 2000-01).
... snapped an 11-game losing streak to Princeton (last win was exactly six years ago, 85-78).
... snapped an eight-game losing streak at Jadwin Gym (last win was Feb. 1, 2005 in the only double overtime game in series and program history, 61-59).
... matched the best two-year stretch in school history (40 wins between 1999-00 and 2000-01).
... extended its winning streak to five games (third such streak this season).
... completed a four-year turnaround from a 78-27 home loss to Princeton in the 2010 season finale when the current seniors were freshmen.
Unprecedented Ivy League Honors
- Senior captain Alyssa Baron was named Ivy League Player of the Year, while freshman Sydney Stipanovich earned Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year honors on March 13. In addition, Baron was a unanimous first-team selection for the second straight season, and junior Kara Bonenberger joined Stipanovich on the All-Ivy second team.
- Stipanovich is the first player in Ivy League history to win two Player of the Year awards in the same season and Penn is the first team to sweep all three postseason awards since the Ivy League added Defensive Player of the Year to the mix in 2008-09. Stipanovich is the third Quaker to be named the Ivy’s top rookie and first since Baron in 2010-11 (only other was Diana Caramanico, 1997-98).
- It is just the eighth time a team has swept the awards—a first for the Quakers—and the first time a team has accomplished the feat since 2001-02 (Harvard).
- Baron, who is now a four-time All-Ivy recipient, is the fourth Penn player to win the league’s MVP and first since Jewel Clark in 2003-04. The Miami, Fla., native is just the 13th player in the history of the league to earn both Player and Rookie of the Year honors over the course of a career, and second Penn player to accomplish the feat (Caramanico).
Rising in the Records
Senior co-captain Alyssa Baron will extend her school record to 116 games played in the NCAA Tournament. She has started every game since stepping on campus. The last time she was not in Penn’s starting lineup was March 9, 2010—a 68-51 loss in the season finale at Princeton. Baron is the only player in school history with 1,500 career points and 300 career assists. She is now just 11 points from becoming the ninth Ivy Leaguer to record 1,800 career points. See pages 20-21 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.
Tough Start, Tough Stretch
Excluding Dartmouth, Penn’s five other losses have come against some of the nation’s best. All five have at least 19 wins and three are ranked or have received Top 25 votes—No. 2 Notre Dame (32-0), St. Francis Brooklyn (19-11), Princeton (20-8), Villanova (22-9) and Saint Joseph’s (22-8). In all, those five losses came against teams with a combined record of 115-36 (.762).
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 47-8 (.855) when they score 60 points, including 20-0 this season. In comparison, the Quakers are just 19-69 (.216) when they’ve scored less than 60 points under Coach McLaughlin, including 2-6 this season. The trend continues defensively. Over the last four seasons, the Red and Blue are 13-46 (.220) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a healthy winning record of 53-31 (.631).
Sydney Stipanovich is seventh in the nation (and second among freshmen in the NCAA) with an Ivy League-leading 3.5 blocks per game. Her 98 blocks in 28 games are more than every Ivy League team other than Princeton (114). The next closest Ivy player is Harvard’s Temi Fagbenle with 40 blocks in 28 games. In addtion, Stipanovich has already set the school’s single-season blocks record—she surpassed the 20-year-old with eight games still remaining—and is now tied for second on the Ivy League’s all-time single-season blocks list. Prior to this season, no Penn player had ever recorded eight blocks in a game, but Stipanovich has done so three times this year. One week after setting the school record at eight, she broke her own single-game mark with nine blocks against Harvard on Feb. 1—third-most all-time in an Ivy League game.
Tops in the Nation
As they say, defense wins championships. And the Quakers boast one of the nation’s best:
- Only two teams in the nation are tougher to score on than the Quakers. Penn ranks third in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense. The Quakers allow opponents to shoot at just a 33.8 percent clip—which is bettered only by top-ranked and undefeated UCONN, who holds the opposition to 30.4 percent, and Hampton (32.8%).
- With that effort, Penn is also among the top 10 in the country in scoring defense as opponents only average 55.9 points per game—11th in the NCAA.
- As a team, the Red and Blue rank 11th in the NCAA in blocked shots. The Quakers average a league-best 5.6 blocks per game.
- Penn is also one of the most disciplined teams in the country as the Quakers have committed the seventh-fewest fouls among 343 Division I schools.
Penn finished a tough non-conference slate ranked last in the Ancient Eight in three-point percentage at 27.2 percent (64-of-235). But in Ivy League play (14 games), the Quakers were second in the league at 36.9 percent from beyond the arc. That’s due in part of the hot shooting of junior Kathleen Roche (25-of-50; 50.0%), who led the league from three-point range in conference play. Roche was 14-of-52 (26.9%) from beyond the arc in non-conference games.
Penn has clinched its second straight winning season. Last year, the Quakers snapped a string of seven straight losing campaigns and finished 18-13. The last time Penn posted back-to-back winning seasons was 2003-04 (17-11) and 2004-05 (15-12). In addition, Penn’s 40 wins in the last two seasons are the most in a two-year span since the program’s best two-year stretch of 40 wins between 1999-00 (18-10) and 2000-01 (22-6).
Prior to this season, Penn had just one winning streak of eight or more games in its entire history. The Quakers have two this season. The 2013-14 Quakers won a school-record eight straight non-conference games earlier this season and won nine straight games prior to their last loss—at Dartmouth on Feb. 22. Before this year, Penn’s only eight-game winning streak came in 2000-01 when the Quakers went 22-6 and won their last 21 regular season games.
Penn either set or tied seven school records during non-league play:
• Most non-conference wins in a single season (10).
• Best 10-game start in team history at 8-2.
• School record eight-game non-conference win streak.
• Two Big 5 road wins in the same season for the first time ever.
• Tied the 2004-05 team with the most Big 5 wins in a season (two).
• Tied the 2004-05 team with its highest Big 5 finish of all-time (third).
• Tied the 1990-91 Quakers as the only teams in school history to start the season 4-0 in true road games.
Penn is 22-4 in its last 26 games ... Penn has won seven of the last eight on the road ... The Quakers are 16-0 this year (and 34-1 over the last three seasons) when shooting better than 40 percent ... The Red and Blue are 14-1 when their free throw percentage is better than 70 percent ... Penn has won 27 of the last 28 games when outrebounding its opponent ... Penn has reached 70 points in 10 games this year (reached that number a combined nine times during Coach McLaughlin’s first four seasons) and is 18-1 under Coach McLaughlin when scoring more than 70 points—only loss in double overtime, 88-84, at Harvard in 2011 ... At least two Quakers have scored in double figures in all but two games this year ... Sydney Stipanovich’s 10 double-doubles this year are the most in a season at Penn since Jennifer Fleischer in 2004-05.
McLaughlin’s Magic Touch
Behind the fastest coach to win 400 games in women’s basketball history (at any level), the Quakers have improved their record in each season under head coach Mike McLaughlin. After a 2-26 campaign in his first year along The Palestra sidelines, Penn has won 11, 13, 18 and now 22 games in succession during his next four years. Each of McLaughlin’s recruiting classes have produced the Big 5 Rookie of the Year. His first recruiting class will graduate in May.
Coach McLaughlin’s first recruiting class of Kristen Kody, Alyssa Baron, Courtney Wilson and Meghan McCullough will graduate as one of the most successful classes in program history. The season prior to their arrival, Penn went 2-26. Since then, the Class of 2014 has won 64 games and set a plethora of milestones:
- First Ivy League championship since 2003-04 ... First NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 seasons ... First two postseason wins in program history and first postseason berth since 2003-04 ... First back-to-back postseason appearances in program history ... Just Penn’s fifth Senior Class with more than 60 career wins (64) ... Second 20-win season in the 44-year history of the program ... Tied school record for wins in a season (22 in 2013-14) and third-most wins in school history (18 in 2012-13) ... Most non-conference wins in school history (10 in 2013-14) and second-most non-conference win in school history (9 in 2012-13) ... Second-longest winning streak in school history (9 in 2013-14) and third-longest winning streak in school history (8 in 2013-14) ... First 10-win Ivy season since 2003-04 and just the fourth 10-win Ivy season in school history (2013-14) ... Tied for second-most Ivy wins in school history (11 in 2013-14) ... School record eight-game non-conference winning streak (2013-14) ... Posted the program’s largest single-season turnaround as freshmen ... Snapped 24-game and six-year Big 5 losing streak as freshmen ... Matched school record with two Big 5 wins in same season (2013-14) ... First season with two Big 5 road games in school history (2013-14) ... Four career Big 5 wins matches school record with Senior Classes from 1983, 1984 and 2005 ... Recorded program’s first-ever win over an ACC opponent (at Miami on Jan. 1, 2014) ... Snapped a string of seven straight losing seasons and posted first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002-05 ... Second Senior Class to improve win total each year (only other class was last year, 2012-13) ... Best 10-game start in school history (8-2 in 2013-14) ... Snapped a 17-game and nine-year losing streak to Harvard and has won three of last four over the Crimson ... Snapped an 11-game losing streak to Princeton and nine-year losing streak at Jadwin Gym ... Largest comeback in school history (19 pts vs. Drexel on Dec. 21, 2013) and second-largest comeback in school history (18 pts at St. Francis Brooklyn on Dec. 5, 2012).
There are more—as well as a plethora of individual accomplishments for each—but as a group, the Senior Class of 2014 will go down as one of the most successful in school history. And they aren’t done yet.
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 first NCAA Tournament win in program history and the second in Ivy League history.
... be the program’s second over a Big 12 opponent and first since 1991.
... mark the third six-game winning streak of the season.
... set a school record for wins in a season and make the Quakers 23-6 overall.
... advance the Quakers to play No. 4 Maryland or No. 13 Army in the Round of 32.
A Penn Loss Would...
... be just the second since Jan. 17 (Penn is 14-1 since that time).
... give the Quakers a final record of 22-7.
... be less good than a win.
Ivy League champions. All it took was a total team effort on the road against the four-time defending champions and Penn raised the Ivy trophy at Jadwin Gym on March 11. The Quakers led wire-to-wire and defeated Princeton, 80-64. Penn held the Tigers scoreless for a seven-minute stretch in the first half and built a 16-5 lead at the midway point of the half. Penn led 32-19 at halftime. The Red and Blue jumped out to a 42-25 lead, but Princeton scored seven straight. But the Quakers responded. Courtney Wilson had back-to-back buckets and Penn was up, 46-34, with 11:51 to go. The teams traded buckets until Princeton closed within 53-44 with 8:55 to go. But Kara Bonenberger converted a three-point play and Baron hit a jumper to push Penn’s lead back to 58-44 with 7:39 to play. Princeton was never within double digits again. The Quakers connected on 15-of-18 (.833) free throws in the final three minutes to snap an 11-game losing streak to Princeton and nine-year losing skid at Jadwin Gym.
Sunday’s winner will play on Tuesday against the winner of 13th-seeded Army and 4th-seeded Maryland, who tip off at 12:30 p.m., on Sunday at the Comcast Center.