PHILADELPHIA - Its the first Ivy League road trip of the season. Penn (12-5, 2-1 Ivy) takes the tour through the Empire State with a stop in Ithaca, N.Y., on Friday to matchup with Cornell (11-7, 3-1 Ivy), and then on to New York City to face Columbia (4-14, 1-3 Ivy) on Saturday. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. and can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Catching the Games
If you can’t make it out to either game in the Empire State this weekend, you can watch the Ivy matchups on the Ivy League Digital Network. Live stats can be found at CornellBigRed.com and GoColumbiaLions.com. 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.
In the Series vs. Cornell/Columbia
The Quakers snapped a three-game losing skid to Cornell with a season sweep of the Big Red last season. Penn’s win at Newman Arena last year was its first in Ithaca since 2009. Penn leads the overall series, 50-19, but the Big Red have won five of the last eight and the Quakers haven’t won back-to-back games at Cornell since 2004-05. Against Columbia, the Quakers are 37-18 all-time, including four straight wins. However, Penn’s last loss in the series came at Levien Gymnasium in 2011. Prior to the back-to-back season sweeps of the Lions, the Quakers had lost four of six to Columbia, including three straight in New York City.
About the Big Red
Cornell resides in a three-way tie atop the Ivy League standings at 3-1. The Big Red have won three straight in conference play after dropping their opener to Columbia. They defend their home court well, holding a 3-0 record in Ancient Eight play and 7-3 overall. The Big Red excel in the turnover battle, leading the Ivy League in steals with 9.6 per game and also boast the conference’s best turnover margin at +3.17 per game. The Penn/Cornell matchup will feature two of the conference’s best rookies. Quakers center Sydney Stipanovich and Big Red forward Nia Marshall (12.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) shared both Co-Player and Co-Rookie of the Week honors after each team went 2-0 in conference play. Senior forward Allyson DiMagno leads the team in both points (13.4) and rebounds (7.7). Marshall ranks first in blocks (23) and steals (38). Shelby Lyman is tops from three at 35.1 percent and Kerri Moran has a team-high 59 assists.
About the Lions
After a big win to start Ivy League play at home over Cornell, Columbia has fallen on tough times of late, dropping each of their next three contests against the Ancient Eight by double digits. Under first-year coach Stephanie Glance, the Lions are just one win away from tying last year’s season total of five. The Lions are among the bottom half of the Ivy League in nearly every statistical category. They rank seventh in scoring (60.6 ppg) and last in scoring defense, allowing 72.7 per game. Columbia is most potent from three-point range (31.1%). Freshman Tori Oliver has emerged as the team’s top scorer, averaging 10.4 points per game while also ranking first in blocks (10) and second in rebounds (5.8 pg). Taylor Ward is their biggest all-around threat, leading the team with 30 steals and 59 assists while also averaging 9.4 points per game. She trails only Penn’s Meghan McCullough for the Ivy League lead in assists per game.
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 35-6 (.842). St. Francis Brooklyn is 14-6 and No. 2 Notre Dame is undefeated through 21 games. In all, Penn’s five losses have come against teams with a combined record of 79-22 (.782).
Three’s a Trend: First Place Teams
Friday’s matchup will be Penn’s fourth Ivy game of the season and its third against the league’s first-place team. Including Princeton in the season opener, Harvard was tied with Yale at 3-0 for the league lead heading into the matchup with Penn, and entering Friday, Cornell is atop the league standings with Yale and Harvard at 3-1.
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 61 blocks in 17 games—there are five Ivy League teams with fewer blocks. The next closest Ivy player is Harvard’s Temi Fagbenle with 29 blocks in 18 games. In addtion, Stipanovich is already third 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 84.
Ivy and National Leaders
In addition to ranking fourth in the country in blocked shots, freshman Sydney Stipanovich’s 3.59 blocks per game are tops among any freshman in the nation. As a team, the Quakers rank 10th in the NCAA in blocked shots with more than five per game. Senior Meghan McCullough is tops in the Ivy League with 62 assists and in assist-to-turnover ratio—where she ranks 30th nationally. 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.
We’re No. 3 (of 343)
Even more impressive among the NCAA stats, the Quakers are third in the nation in field goal percentage defense. Only two teams in the country are tougher to score on than Penn—No. 1 UConn and Texas. The Quakers allow opponents to shoot at just a 34.0 percent clip. The top-ranked and undefeated Huskies hold the opposition to 31.4 percent and the Texas defense forces opponents to shoot at a 33.4-percent clip.
Saturday was Coach McLaughlin’s 600th career game as a head coach and he has won 463 of them (.772) ... Penn has won 12 of its last 15 games ... At least four Quakers have scored in double figures in each of the last three games and the Quakers have had at least two players score in double figures in all but one game this year ... Senior Alyssa Baron started all 104 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 8-0 this year when shooting better than 40 percent ... Penn has reached 70 points in three of the last four and is 14-1 under Coach McLaughlin when scoring more than 70 points (only loss in double overtime, 88-84, at Harvard in 2011).
Rising in the Records
Last weekend, senior captain Alyssa Baron became the fourth player in program history to score 1,600 career points and just the fourth to record 300 career assists—the only Penn player to do both. Baron will chase Kirsten Brendel (1,656 points) for third place and Jewel Clark (1,743) for second on Penn’s all-time list. Former Quaker Diana Caramanico holds the Ivy League scoring record at 2,415 points. Baron is 22nd on the Ivy League’s all-time scoring list and is also among Penn’s all-time top five with 562 made field goals (4th), 141 three-pointers (5th), 335 made free throws (4th), 75.7 free throw percentage (5th) and 306 assists (5th). See page four of the 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 book.
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 38-8 (.826) when they score 60 points, including 11-0 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 11-46 (.193) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a healthy winning record of 45-30 (.600).
On the Clock:
Senior captain Courtney Wilson served as the first contestant of Penn's On the Clock series - a great way for fans to get to know their Quakers.
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, go to PennAthletics.com/ImpactQuakers or contact Eric Dolan at email@example.com with your pledge or any questions.
Last Time Out
Penn swept its first Ivy weekend. Four Quakers scored in double figures as the Red and Blue opened up a 17-point first-half lead and then cruised to its third straight win, 71-53, over Dartmouth on Friday night at The Palestra. That winning streak extended to four when the Red and Blue knocked off first-place and previously unbeaten Harvard with their largest margin of victory in series history, 67-38. Sydney Stipanovich broke her school record with nine blocks and Penn held the Crimson to 18.3 percent shooting and 30 points below their scoring average.
Penn returns home to wrap up the first half of Ivy play. Yale will serve as Penn’s Valentine with a matchup at The Palestra on Feb. 14. The following night, Brown will visit the Cathedral of College Basketball for Penn’s annual Pink Game—fans will receive free pink t-shirts and pom-poms. Both contests will tip at 7 p.m.