PHILADELPHIA - An Ivy League title and NCAA Tournament berth are at stake. Winner take all. Known as the purest form of college basketball, the Ivy League’s conference schedule is a true round-robin and there is no conference tournament. The best record at the end of the 14-game regular season earns the NCAA Tournament bid. As is tradition, this historic rivalry always serves as the Ancient Eight’s regular season finale, and Penn and Princeton enter Tuesday’s matchup with identical league records to set up a true championship game for this “14-game tournament.” Tip off from Jadwin Gym is set for 5:30 p.m.
Catching the Game
A ticket to the men’s game (8 p.m.) gets fans into the women’s game for free. For those that can’t make it to Jadwin Gym, fans can watch the game on the Ivy League Digital Network and listen 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.
In the Series vs. Princeton
This rivalry dates back to 1974 and the team’s have played every year since. Tuesday’s matchup marks the 76th meeting between the Quakers and Tigers. Princeton won the first eight in this series and has won the last 11 for a 52-23 all-time series lead. Penn’s last win over the Tigers was March 11, 2008 in a high-scoring season finale at The Palestra (85-78). Princeton has won eight in a row at Jadwin Gym dating back to Penn’s double-overtime win in 2005 (61-59). The Tigers have won five of the last six meetings by at least 30 points and are the only Ivy League team Coach McLaughlin has yet to beat.
Ivy Title Implications
Penn and Princeton are each 11-2 in Ivy League play. The winner of today’s game earns the outright Ivy League championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The loser is guaranteed second place which brings an automatic berth to the WNIT.
A Penn Win Would...
... clinch the program’s third Ivy title and NCAA Tournament berth and first since 2003-04.
... tie the school record for most wins in a season (22 in 2000-01).
... mark the second-most Ivy wins in school history (14 in 2000-01).
... snap an 11-game losing streak to Princeton (last win was exactly six years ago, 85-78).
... snap 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).
... match the best two-year stretch in school history (40 wins between 1999-00 and 2000-01.
... make the Quakers 22-6 overall and 12-2 in Ivy play at the end of the regular season.
A Penn Loss Would...
... snap a four-game winning streak.
... make the Quakers 21-7 overall and 11-3 in Ivy play at the end of the regular season.
... be less good than a win.
Winner Take All
This is just the second time in Ivy League women's basketball history that two teams face each other in the season finale with the League title on the line and the first since 1994-95, when Dartmouth and Harvard entered the last game of the season both 11-2 in League play. The Big Green prevailed in Cambridge, Mass., 72-48.
Progress against Princeton
It has been a one-sided series of late. During Princeton’s 11-game winning streak, the Quakers have lost all but one by double digits, including a 78-27 loss at The Palestra in the 2011 season finale—when the current seniors were freshmen. However, in the season finale at The Palestra last year, the Quakers led the Tigers with under nine minutes to play. Princeton jumped out to a 22-4 lead in the first 13 minutes, but the Red and Blue completely erased the 18-point deficit and led 36-35 with 9:12 to go. Princeton retook the lead though and went on to push the final margin to 60-44.
Rising in the Records
This will be the final regular season game for senior captain Alyssa Baron, who will extend her school record to 115 games played. She has started all of them 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 1,700 career points and 300 career assists. She is 21 points from becoming the Ivy League’s ninth all-time leading scorer. See pages 20-21 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 books.
Sydney Stipanovich is seventh in the nation (and second among freshman in the NCAA) with an Ivy League-leading 3.56 blocks per game. Her 96 blocks in 27 games are more than every Ivy League team other than Princeton (110). 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.
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 46-8 (.852) when they score 60 points, including 19-0 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 12-46 (.207) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a healthy winning record of 53-31 (.631).
Top 10 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 33.6 percent clip—which is bettered only by top-ranked and undefeated UCONN, who holds the opposition to 30.5 percent, and Hampton (33.1%).
- With that effort, Penn is also among the top 10 in the country in scoring defense as opponents only average 56.3 points per game—10th in the NCAA.
- As a team, the Red and Blue rank 10th in the NCAA in blocked shots. The Quakers average a league-best 5.7 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 (13 games), the Quakers lead the league at 37.2 percent from beyond the arc. That’s due in part of the hot shooting of junior Kathleen Roche (22-of-44; 50.0%), who leads the league from three-point range in conference play.
Excluding Dartmouth, Penn’s five other losses have come against some of the nation’s best, including No. 2 Notre Dame. All five have at least 19 wins and three are ranked or have received Top 25 votes. In all, those five losses came against teams with a combined record of 115-35 (.767)
Penn is 21-4 in its last 25 games ... Penn has won six of the last seven on the road ... The Red and Blue are 13-1 when their free throw percentage is better than 70 percent ... Penn has won 26 of the last 27 games when outrebounding its opponent ... The Quakers are 15-0 this year (and 33-1 over the last three seasons) when shooting better than 40 percent ... Penn has reached 70 points in nine games this year (reached that number a combined nine times during Coach McLaughlin’s first four seasons) and is 17-1 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.
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 a 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 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 39 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).
About the Tigers
- Princeton has won four straight Ivy League titles and has lost just four Ivy League games in that span. Two of those have come this season in losses to Harvard at home and at Brown. The Tigers had two common non-conference opponents with the Quakers as both teams lost to Saint Joseph’s and beat Drexel.
- The Tigers boast the Ivy League’s top offense with a league-best 47.6 shooting percentage. They are atop the Ivies in assists and rebounding, as well as second in the three-point percentage. Defensively, they rank third in the league in scoring and second in field goal percentage defense.
- Blake Dietrick averages a team-high 14.4 points per game. Kristen Helmstetter scores 11.7 per game and Michelle Miller is also in double figures (10.6). Alex Wheatley (9.9 ppg) has an Ivy-best 54.8 shooting percentage. Helmstetter leads the team with 6.4 rebounds per game and 3.4 assists per game.
Penn capped its final homestand with a weekend sweep to clinch a postseason berth and the program’s second 20-win season. On Friday, the Quakers jumped out to a 13-0 lead over Columbia and led 34-19. The Quakers were never threatened in the second half and cruised to a 65-50 win to record the 20th win of the season. On Senior Night, Penn trailed at the half, 26-21, but once again relied on its post play and defense to get in the win column. Leading by one with 13 minutes left, Penn held the Big Red scoreless for nearly 10 minutes and went on a decisive 13-0 run to pull out a 50-43 victory.
Regardless of the outcome, this will not be the last game of the season for the Quakers, who have clinched a postseason berth. If the Quakers don’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament, they will serve as the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the WNIT. Both the NCAA Tournament and WNIT fields are announced on Monday night.