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PHILADELPHIA - Its one of the shortest road trips in all of college basketball as the Quakers will walk three blocks to the visiting gym for the annual Battle for 33rd Street against Drexel. Tip is at 1 p.m. Friday. Penn (4-3) is riding a four-game winning streak - its longest in seven years - while Drexel has won six of eight to start the season, but hasn't played since Dec. 1.
In the Series vs. Drexel
This is the 23rd all-time meeting between the neighboring programs and Drexel leads the series 12-10. The Quakers took last year’s matchup at the Palestra on Dec. 22, 2011—their first series win since Dec. 21, 2006— in exciting fashion, beating the Dragons in overtime, 67-65. Penn has a chance to nab its first consecutive wins over Drexel since 1973-76, when it won four straight. Head Coach Mike McLaughlin is 1-2 against the City 6 rival with both losses coming at the Daskalakis Athletic Center (DAC). Penn is just 1-7 all-time at the DAC and hasn’t won at the neighboring gymnasium since the first meeting there on Feb. 24, 1977—a 66-60 overtime victory.
About the Dragons
Drexel will host Penn in just its second home game of the year. They are 0-1 at the DAC and are 1-1 in the City 6 entering Friday. The teams have just one common opponent. Penn defeated La Salle by nine at the Palestra. The Dragons topped the Explorers by three on the road. The Dragons rank seventh in the nation in scoring defense (46.6 ppg) and first in the CAA. They rank top two in the CAA in five other statistical categories as well, including first in FT precentage (73.9%), defensive rebounds (32.2 per game), and assist-turnover ratio (+1.15). Hollie Mershon is fourth in the CAA with 16.5 points per game, and third in assists per game (3.8) and FT percentage (86.1). Nicole Jones leads the team with 11 blocks and is fifth in the CAA, as well as third in FG% (52.3%). Rachel Pearson is first in the CAA in 3-PT% (50%).
Climbing the Record Books
Junior Alyssa Baron became the 19th Penn women’s player to reach 1,000 career points on Nov. 30. 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), Diana Caramanico (48 games) and Mandy West (52 games) were faster to 1,000 points. A two-time Ivy scoring champion, Baron became the first freshman in Ivy history to lead the league in scoring and now has 1,048 points in her career, which ranks 14th all-time at Penn. She is now just 55 points from reaching the top 10 and at an average of 16.0 points per game this season and 16.6 for her career she could reach the top 10 during Penn’s next home game (Jan. 5).
Penn has won four straight games for the first time since a seven-game streak during the 2004-05 season ... Penn has won seven of their last nine non-conference home games ... Four different Quakers have led the team in scoring this year, including four different players in the last four games (all wins) ... Penn is 4-0 with its current starting lineup of Baron, Ray, Roche, Allen and Bonenberger ... Including ties, six different Quakers have led the team in rebounding in the first seven games ... Three different Quakers have scored more than 20 points in a game this season (Baron, Roche, Ray) ... Alyssa Baron has started 63 consecutive games for the Quakers ... Junior Meghan McCullough played in 59 straight games dating back to the 2010-11 season opener prior to suffering a season-ending injury at Army (Nov. 18) ... Penn has forced more turnovers than its opponent in all but one game and leads the Ivies in assist-to-turnover ratio (+3.71).
Penn’s first six games were decided by single digits, including four by five points or fewer, two by a single possession and one overtime game. Penn suffered three straight losses to start the season. But those came by a combined 17 points (average of 5.7 points per game). In two of those losses, Penn was within one possession and had the ball with under 10 seconds to play. The Quakers then won three straight by a combined 15 points (5.0 ppg) before a 14-point win at LIU Brooklyn in their last contest. Last year, the Red and Blue were 5-5 in games decided by 10 points or less.
Penn Picked to Finish Fourth in Ivy League
After finishing last season in sixth place with a 6-8 Ivy League record, the Quakers were picked to finish fourth in the Ivy Preseason Media Poll. Last season, Penn was also picked to finish fourth in the Ivy League, but ended up finishing sixth for for the second season in a row.
A Penn Win Would...
... mark the first five-game winning streak since 2004-05.
... make the Quakers 5-3 on the year and 11-12 against Drexel.
... be the first winning streak against Drexel since 1973-76.
... be the first at the DAC since 1977.
A Penn Loss Would...
... be the eighth straight at the DAC dating back to 1977.
... make the Quakers 4-4 on the year and 2-2 on the road.
... be less good than a win.
Charge for a Cure!
For the third 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 two years, 109 donors have joined the “Charge for a Cure” program which helped the team raise nearly $7,000. Each month of the season will be devoted to help a specific disease with personal ties to the program—The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Go4theGoal, the American Cancer Society, The Dave Bryan Ride on Fund, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of America. At the end of each month, the coaches will total the number of offensive charges the Quakers have taken as a team and fans can pledge a donation per charge. This month the Quakers will be taking charges for the Go4theGoal Foundation, but the team is turning to its fans to lend a hand in its efforts. Here is how you can help!
FOR A CURE!
Last Time Out
Before taking time off for winter break, the Quakers swept two games in Brooklyn, earning their first four-game winning streak since 2004-05. First, in exciting fashion, junior Alyssa Baron capped the largest comeback in school history with the winning basket with 6.4 seconds left against St. Francis-Brooklyn on Dec. 5. Most recently, they had it a bit easier against LIU Brooklyn on Dec. 9. Penn defeated the Blackbirds, 54-40, behind 17 points from Baron and 12 points from sophomore forward Kara Bonenberger. The Red and Blue sunk nine three-pointers—one off their season-high 10 against St. Francis. The Quakers dominated from the opening tip, taking a 12-point lead into the half, and extending it in the second for the 14-point win. They were also very cautious with the ball, leading them to turn it over just nine times, tying a team record-low under head coach Mike McLaughlin.
After the Battle for 33rd Street against the Dragons, the following weekend Penn travels to Ames, Iowa for the Cyclone Challenge. The Quakers will face Alabama State on Dec. 29 at 2 p.m., and then will face either Air Force on Dec. 30, also at 2 p.m. Penn’s next home game isn’t until Jan. 5 against Saint Joseph’s (2 p.m.).