PHILADELPHIA - For the first time since 1981, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team will host Notre Dame at The Palestra. Tip off with the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Catching the Game
If you can't make it out to The Palestra, fans can watch the game on the Penn Sports Network as part of the Ivy League Digital Network. Live stats can be found at PennAthletics.com and 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 of the game.
In the Series vs. Notre Dame
This will be Penn's third meeting all-time with Notre Dame and the second in three years. Penn played in South Bend for the first time in program history on Dec. 2, 2011 and fell to the third-ranked foe, 69-38. In the only other meeting at The Palestra, Penn fell, 62-47, on Dec. 18, 1981. The Quakers went into halftime tied with the Fighting Irish, 25-25, but couldn't keep up in the second half.
Two seasons ago against No. 3 Notre Dame, the Red and Blue could not keep up offensively, but the defense held it’s own, keeping Notre Dame to just 8.3 percent from beyond the arc and 37.9 percent overall. Penn trailed from start to finish, but over the last 26 minutes, the Quakers kept the Fighting Irish’s advantage to just 37-31.
About the Fighting Irish
Notre Dame finished the 2012-13 season with a 35-2 overall mark and a 16-0 record in the Big East. The Irish proceeded to win the Big East Tournament and earn a number-one seed in the NCAA Tournament, advancing all the way to the Final Four before falling to Connecticut, 83-65 in the National Semifinal. This season is Notre Dame’s first in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). They are currenly ranked sixth nationally. The Irish’s top returning scorer is senior Kayla McBride. The First Team All-Big East and Third Team All-American averaged 15.9 points per game and shot 90 percent from the free throw line last season. Sophomore Jewell Lloyd leads the team this season in scoring and rebounds, averaging 21.0 and 9.0, respectively. Last year’s leading scorer, Skylar Diggins, was selected third overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Tulsa Shock.
Against the ACC
Notre Dame will be playing its inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Quakers will be looking for their first-ever win over an ACC opponent. Overall, the Red and Blue are 0-12 against the powerhouse conference. However, Penn's most recent ACC opponent - Virginia - came to The Palestra last season and barely survived, 68-65. The Cavaliers overcame a 15-point second-half deficit and Penn's game-tying shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
Against the Top 25
Penn is also looking for its first-ever win over a ranked opponent. The last meeting with Notre Dame was also the most recent time Penn has gone up against a Top 25 team. The Fighting Irish were No. 3 at the time—the highest ranked opponent Penn has faced in its history.
At least one freshman has been in the starting lineup for the Quakers in 83 of the last 88 games ... Penn was 15-2 when leading at the half last season and 3-11 when trailing, but lost the opener this year after holding a 26-25 lead ... The Quakers had fewer turnovers than their opponents in a remarkable 26 of 31 games last season (17-9 in those games) and did so again in the season opener ... The Quakers have won 10 straight games when they outrebound their opponent ... Alyssa Baron has started 88 consecutive games for the Quakers ... Three different Quakers scored more than 20 points in a game last season (Baron, Roche, Ray) and Kathleen Roche’s 19 against Detroit were the most scored in a postseason 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 28-8 (.777) when they score 60 points, including 10-3 last year. In comparison, the Quakers are just 16-63 (.203) when they’ve scored less than 60 points under Coach McLaughlin. The trend continues defensively. Over the last four seasons, the Red and Blue are 9-43 (.173) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a winning record of 35-28 (.556), including nine straight wins.
Climbing the Record Books
Senior Alyssa Baron added another nine points in the season opener. She is currently the fourth-highest scorer in program history with 1,382 for her career. This season, Baron will chase Kirsten Brendel (1,656 points) for third place and Jewel Clark (1,743) for second. Clark is also 10th all-time in scoring in Ivy history. Former Quaker Diana Caramanico holds the Ivy League scoring record at 2,415 points. Baron became the 19th Penn women’s player to reach 1,000 career points on Nov. 30, 2012. 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), Caramanico (48 games) and Mandy West (52 games) were faster to 1,000 career points.
Penn has improved its win total every season under Coach McLaughlin. In his first season in 2009-10, Penn won just two games—the fewest wins in program history. Just three seasons later in 2012-13, the Quakers posted the second-most wins in program history and earned the first two postseason wins in program history. In addition, Penn’s nine non-league wins last year matched the school record set in 1999-00. The winning ways were also evident throughout league play where the Quakers won nine games for just the sixth time in school history. The Red and Blue hope to carry the momentum into this season as the Quakers return all five starters from last season.
Last Time Out
Penn started off their season with a tough loss at home against St. Francis Brooklyn, 56-51. The Red and Blue came out strong with an 11-point run late in the first half to seize their first lead since the 14:44 mark. While the Quakers went into halftime holding on to a one-point lead, they were outscored 31-25 in the second half thanks largely to a 6-0 run by the Terriers down the stretch.
Penn has the next week off before they cross town in order to play Big 5 rival La Salle on Dec. 2. The Quakers won last season's matchup at The Palestra, but fell in their last trip to La Salle, 58-47 in 2011. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.