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PHILADELPHIA - A Big 5 title is on the line Wednesday night at The Palestra. Penn (7-6, 1-1 Big 5) tips off with Villanova (13-2, 3-0 Big 5) at 7 p.m. The Quakers can claim a share of their first city conference title with wins in their two remaining Big 5 contests, while a win by the Wildcats clinches their second straight unbeaten Big 5 campaign. Both teams are also supporting the Go4theGoal Foundation and will wear yellow shoelaces for Pediatric Cancer.
Catching the Game
Video and live stats will be available on the Penn Sports Network at PennAthletics.com. 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 each game.
In the Series vs. Villanova
In 39 all-time meetings between these programs, the Quakers have won just twice. After the teams split the first two meetings, the Wildcats won 26 straight from 1976-2000. In 2001, Penn topped Villanova on the road with a 69-62 overtime victory. Villanova has won the last 10 meetings, taking the last three at The Palestra by a combined 14 points.
About the Wildcats
At 13-2, Villanova is off to one of the best starts in school history and is receiving votes in the national polls. The Wildcats have won 12 of 13 and are 3-0 in the Big East and the Big 5. They have three common opponents with Penn—victories over Princeton, Saint Joseph’s and La Salle. Penn also beat La Salle, but fell to the other two by double digits. Villanova, historically known for its defense and three-point efficiency, ranks second in the Big East in defense (48.9 ppg) and made threes (7.7 per game). They are also second in the 15-team league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5). However, the Wildcats do rank at or near the bottom of the conference in blocks and rebounding. Laura Sweeney leads the Wildcats with 12.4 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game, 2.7 steals per game and 1.7 blocks per game. Lauren Burford has a team-best 23 threes at a 40.3 percent clip. Caroline Coyer leads Villanova with 43 assists and Rachel Roberts averages 10.7 ppg.
Both teams will be wearing yellow shoelaces on Wednesday in support of the Go4theGoal Foundation’s fight against pediatric cancer: “Lace Up for Pediatric Cancer.”
Penn has posted seven or more out-of-conference wins in back-to-back seasons for just the second time in program history (1999-00, 2000-01). Penn also won seven non-league games last season—which is tied for fourth-most in program history.
Topping the Big 5
Its a daunting task each year for the Quakers to take on the Big 5. The conference for city bragging rights includes the other four Division I schools in Philadelphia—Temple, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Villanova. The first three are in the Atlantic-10 conference and the Wildcats are in Big East. Penn lost 24 straight Big 5 games after a win over Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 1, 2004 at Hagan Arena, 64-57, and were 1-30 since that time against the Big 5. But the Quakers have now won two of the last four against their city rivals at The Palestra.
Penn is 6-1 when leading at the half and 1-5 when trailing (only win was 18-point school-record comeback at St. Francis Brooklyn) ... The Quakers have had fewer turnovers than their opponents in 10 of 13 games this season (7-3 in those games) ... Penn has won eight of their last 11 non-conference home games ... The Quakers have outrebounded their opponent just three times this year, but are 3-0 in those games ... Penn is 7-3 with its current starting lineup of Baron, Ray, Roche, Allen and Bonenberger ... In 12 games, six different Quakers have led the team in scoring this year ... Including ties, six different Quakers have led the team in rebounding ... Three different Quakers have scored more than 20 points in a game this season (Baron, Roche, Ray) ... Alyssa Baron has started 69 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).
Climbing the Record Books
Junior Alyssa Baron moved into ninth place all-time at Penn in career scoring on Saturday. She now has 1,132 career points and is 70 points away from passing Cheryl Rath for eighth place. 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 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 Penn Win Would...
... tie for the second-most non-conference wins in school history (8).
... mark just the second two-win Big 5 season in program history (2004-05).
... make the Quakers 8-6 on the year and 2-1 in the Big 5.
A Penn Loss Would...
... be the 11th in a row to Villanova
... eliminate the Quakers from Big 5 title contention
... make the Quakers 7-7 on the year
... 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 American Cancer Society, 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
In the traditional opening game for the Ivy League, Penn fell on the road to three-time defending Ivy League champion Princeton, 77-47, on Saturday afternoon at Jadwin Gym. The Tigers looked every bit the league favorite as they jumped out to a 13-0 lead on their home floor. Sophomore Katy Allen ended that spurt with a nifty spin move underneath to set up an easy layup and get the Quakers on the board at the 14:10 mark. Princeton extended its advantage to 17-2 in the first 8:30, but the Quakers played the Tigers basket-for-basket from there. Junior captain Alyssa Baron had 10 of Penn’s 16 points in the opening half, including a pair of three-pointers, as the Quakers trailed by 19 at the break. A fast-paced second half saw both teams match basket-for-basket over the first few minutes. Penn trailed by 16 after sophomore Kara Bonenberger converted a turnaround jumper and freshman Keiera Ray sunk two free throws. However, Princeton slowly built its lead up to as many as 31 at the 9:40 mark. But Penn didn’t quit. Allen, who finished with 12 points and four rebounds, hit a pair of threes and senior captain Brianna Bradford added another. But the deficit proved too much to overcome.
One more non-conference matchup remains. Temple visits the Cathedral of College Basketball on Jan. 23. The last Big 5 game of the 2012-13 season tips at 7 p.m.