PHILADELPHIA - And so it begins. The 14-game tournament. 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. And as is tradition, Penn (8-2) and Princeton (9-5) are the first (as well as final game) of Ivy play each year. The 75th edition of this rivalry tips off at 3 p.m. at the historic Palestra.
Catching the Game
Its a doubleheader with the men so there are lots of great ticket deals to see both games. 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. Princeton: 75th Meeting
This rivalry dates back to 1974 and Saturday’s matchup marks the 75th meeting between the Quakers and Tigers. Princeton won the first eight in this series and has won the last 10 for a 51-23 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). It has been nine years since the Quakers last won an Ivy opener. Princeton has won five straight in Philadelphia and is the only Ivy League team Coach McLaughlin has yet to beat.
About the Tigers
*Princeton has won four straight Ivy championships and has lost just two league games over that stretch. This season, the Tigers went 9-5 in non-conference play with a 20-point win at Alabama. Princeton’s only losses are to four teams from BCS conference’s and a nine-point loss to Saint Joseph’s—who ranks in the top 10 in RPI. Like Penn, the Tigers beat Drexel this season (66-59).
*Princeton’s league-leading offense (73.8 ppg) goes up against Penn’s Ivy-best defense (57.3 ppg). The Tigers also lead the league in rebounding and are second to Penn in blocks. The Tigers also boast a league-high 16.3 assists per game (Penn is second at 15.3).
*Blake Dietrick has a team-high 15.4 points per game. Kristen Helmstetter (11.9) and Michelle Miller (10.7) also average double figures for the Tigers. Helmstetter leads the league with 3.7 assists per game and has a team-best 6.4 rebounds per game. Dietrick is the team’s top three-point shooter (44.6%).
Charge for a Cure: Teaming up with Men's Basketball
Penn men's and women's basketball needs your help! For the fourth straight year the women’s basketball team is dedicating its entire season to the fight against several diseases with its Charge for a Cure program. This year, the month of January is dedicated to the Dut Jok Youth Foundation - founded and run by Penn men's basketball senior Dau Jok. The women's basketball team raises money with each charge they take and fans pledge a donation per charge. To make a pledge (usually $1) contact Eric Dolan at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Dut Jok Youth Foundation, click here.
Though the Quakers started 0-2, they faced some tough competition. Entering the New Year, Penn’s first two opponents this season are a combined 25-2 (.926). St. Francis Brooklyn is 11-2 and its only two losses came on the road to BCS opponents in St. John’s and Miami (Fla.). No. 2 Notre Dame is undefeated through 14 games.
Despite that challenging start to the season, the Quakers are off to the best 10-game start in program history. At 8-2, the Quakers surpassed the 1974-75 and 2011-12 teams which had held the school record at 7-3.
Penn set a school record with its eight straight non-conference win on Wednesday. That surpassed the mark of seven straight held by the 2000-01 Quakers. The eight-game stretch is also the second-longest winning streak in program history. The 2000-01 team won their last 21 regular season games and finished with a school record 22 wins. Penn has not lost a game since Nov. 23, 2013 against No. 5/6 Notre Dame—a span of 49 days. The Fighting Irish are now ranked second in the nation which means Penn has not lost to team ranked outside the Top 5 since Nov. 9, 2013—a span of 63 days.
Freshman Sydney Stipanovich leads the league with 30 blocks in 10 games—there are four Ivy League teams with fewer blocks and all those teams have played at least 13 games. The next closest Ivy individual is Temi Fagbenle with 22 blocks in 13 games. Stipanovich, who is already just four blocks from Penn’s all-time single-season top 10, is also 13th in the nation with her average of 3.0 blocks per game and Penn ranks 26th as a team with an average of 5.1 per game.
Fourth to 1,500
Senior captain Alyssa Baron became the fourth player in program history to surpass 1,500 career points on Wednesday and now has 1,510. 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 four points from tying for 25th on the Ivy League’s all-time scoring list. Baron, who is also among or just outside Penn’s all-time top five with 530 made field goals (4th), 135 three-pointers (6th), 315 made free throws (4th), 75.8 free throw percentage (5th) and 285 assists (5th), 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 is 21-3 over the last two seasons when leading at the half (6-1 this season) ... The Quakers are 5-0 this year when Alyssa Baron leads the team in scoring ... The Quakers have had at least two players score in double figures in every game this year ... Penn has had four different leading scorers in the last five games ... The Quakers have won 19 straight games when they have outrebound their opponent (last loss was at Cornell on Feb. 17, 2012) ... Alyssa Baron has started 97 consecutive games for the Quakers—Penn is now 50-47 in those games ... Penn is 11-1 under Coach McLaughlin when scoring more than 70 points (only loss in double overtime, 88-84, at Harvard in 2011).
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 34-8 (.810) when they score 60 points, including 7-0 this season. In comparison, the Quakers are just 18-65 (.217) 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 10-44 (.181) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a winning record of 42-29 (.592).
Adding the Offense
Penn holds its place as the top defensive team in the league once again under Coach McLaughlin, but the Quakers are also posting some impressive offensive numbers. The Quakers have eclipsed 65 points in all but one of the past seven games and are the third-best shooting team in the league at 40.5 percent. Katy Allen leads the league at 54.8 percent. Meghan McCullough has the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the Ivies at 2.5 and is tied with Alyssa Baron for third in the league with 3.2 assists per game. As a team, the Quakers are second in the league with 15.3 assists per game.
Princeton Favored; Penn Picked to Finish Third in Ivy League
Picked to finish third in the Ivy Preseason Media Poll, Penn also received a first-place vote, marking the first time since 2009 a school other than Princeton or Harvard earned a vote as the preseason favorite. The 98 points are 22 more than the Quakers received the previous year. Just three years ago, Penn was picked to finish last in the poll. Last season, Penn was picked to finish fourth in the Ivy League and finished in third place with a 9-5 Ivy League record—the program’s best finish since 2003-04.
A Penn Win Would...
... be the ninth straight and extend the second-longest winning streak in program history.
... be the first in an Ivy opener since 2005.
... mark the best 11-game start in program history at 9-2.
A Penn Loss Would...
... be the 11th straight to Princeton.
... mark the first since Nov. 23, 2013.
... be less good than a win.
Last Time Out
Another balanced attack led Penn to its school-record eighth straight non-conference victory on Wednesday night. Thirteen Quakers found the scoring column as Penn cruised to an 85-51 win over Morgan State at Hill Field House. Morgan State (2-12) led 8-7 after the first four minutes and the game was tied at 10-10 at the 14:22 mark. But the Quakers scored the game’s next 13 points and eventually took a 41-25 lead into the break. Penn started the half on a 12-3 run and led 53-28 with 16:07 to play and the Bears were never closer than 23 the rest of the way. The 85-51 win was the largest margin of victoy under fifth-year head coach Mike McLaughlin.
Penn will compete for its first-ever Big 5 title. Penn plays three straight opponents from the Philadelphia basketball conference—all on the road and all of them rank in the top 35 in the RPI. The Quakers are 1-0 in the Big 5 with a win over La Salle and have Villanova (Wednesday, 7 p.m.), Saint Joseph’s (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Temple (Jan. 22, 7 p.m.) remaining on the schedule.