PHILADELPHIA - Before Ivy League play begins in earnest, the Quakers will compete for the program’s first-ever Big 5 title. Penn remains atop the City Series standings with its win over La Salle in December and has three games remaining against Philadelphia opponents to determine the city’s champion. All three will be on the road—starting with a trip to Villanova (12-3) on Wednesday (7 p.m.) and matchup at Saint Joseph's (12-4) on Friday (7 p.m.).
Catching the Game
If you can't make it out to The Pavilion on Wednesday, fans can watch the game on Nova Nation All-Access. Live stats can be found at Villanova.com. Fans can watch the matchup at Saint Joseph's on the Atlantic 10 Network. Live stats can be found here.
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 of each game.
In the Series vs. Villanova: 41st Meeting
In 40 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. Since that win, Villanova has won the last 11 meetings, including five straight at The Pavilion by an average of 25.8 points per game. Penn has not eclipsed 30 points in the last three meetings on the Main Line—the last time the Quakers passed that mark at The Pavilion was Dec. 4, 2005 (L, 51-85).
In the Series vs. Saint Joseph's: 39th Meeting
Penn has won just once in 38 all-time meetings against Saint Joseph’s. That victory came in Hagan Arena in 2004 (64-57). Since then, the Hawks have won eight straight, including the last meeting at Hagan where the Quakers led by seven midway through the second half. Penn Head Coach Mike McLaughlin is 3-14 overall against the Big 5 in four-plus seasons and 3-10 against the Atlantic-10, including a win over La Salle in December (the Explorers lead the A-10 standings with a perfect 4-0 mark).
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.
About the Wildcats
*In its first season in the new Big East, Villanova has already played five conference games and has won three. Overall, the Wildcats are 12-3 with their only non-conference loss to Saint Joseph’s (63-60) at home. They have two common opponents with the Quakers as both teams beat Drexel at home and La Salle on the road—though the Wildcats had more convincing margins of victory.
*As is custom, Villanova boasts the top defense in the Big East allowing just 56.7 points per game. Offensively, the Wildcats have the third-best shooting team in the 10-team league, rank second in assists and are second in turnover margin.
*Devon Kane leads the team with 11.7 points per game, while Caroline Coyer also averages double figures at 10.5 per game. Kane also has a team-best 70 assists. Taylor Holeman averages a team-high 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Lauren Burford leads the Wildcats with 29 threes at a 41.4 percent clip.
About the Hawks
*Saint Joseph's has had the 16th-toughest schedule in the nation to date and has ranked among the top 10 in the RPI throughout much of the season. The only non-conference losses for the Hawks were on the road to No. 14 LSU, at home to then-No. 23 Syracuse.
*The Hawks own the third-best offense (64.5 ppg) and third-best defense (55.2 ppg) in the 16-team Atlantic-10. Opponents are shooting just 35.5 percent against Saint Joseph's - which ranks top in the A-10. The Hawks rank second in the A-10 in three-point shooting team (.323), assists (15.3 per game) and are tops in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.1).
*Chattila Van Grinsven, who had 27 poitns and 15 rebounds against the Quakers last year, leads the Hawks with 14.9 ppg and 10.4 rpg. Natasha Cloud has a team-best 142 assists and 57 steals. Erin Shields is the team's top three-point shooter at a 36.0-percent clip.
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 27-2 (.931). St. Francis Brooklyn is 12-2 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 15 games. In all, Penn’s three losses have come against teams with a combined record of 37-7 (.841) and all seven of their losses were to teams from major conferences.
Despite that challenging start to the season and the most recent loss to Princeton, the Quakers are off to the best 11-game start in school history. That’s due to a school-record setting eight straight non-conference wins. At 8-3, the Quakers are tied with the 1974-75 for the program’s best record through 11 games. The 1974-75 unit started the year at 9-3 before dropping three of their last four to finish 10-6.
House of Horrors
Penn has struggled at The Pavilion as of late. Since a 69-62 overtime win over the Wildcats in 2001—the program’s only win at The Pavilion—Penn has lost five straight by a combined 129 points (25.8 ppg). The closest game in that span was a 16-point loss on Nov. 18, 2009 when the Red and Blue managed just 28 points. However, that was an improvement on the 26-point performance from the visit to the Main Line two years earlier. In the last three visits to Villanova, Penn has combined for a total of 84 points (28.0 ppg). This is all in stark contrast to the Villanova-Penn meetings at The Palestra where the last four have been decided by single digits—a combined 18 points (4.5 ppg).
Ready for the Road
The Pavilion may have given past Penn teams trouble, but the 2013-14 Quakers have excelled on the road. The Red and Blue are 4-0 away from The Palestra this year—just the second time in program history the Quakers have won their first four true road games. The only other Penn team to do so was led by Julie Soriero in 1990-91. Penn won at Rider, Brown, Yale and Delaware in its first four true road matchups. However, no Penn team has ever won its first five on the road. The team that halted that school record streak 23 years ago was none other than Wednesday’s opponent, Villanova.
Another program record will be on the line on Wednesday as Penn will look to extend its school record eight-game non-conference win streak. The Quakers have surpassed the old school standard of seven straight held by the 2000-01 team. The eight-game stretch is also the second-longest winning streak in program history. The 2000-01 Quakers won their last 21 regular season games and finished with a school record 22 wins. Penn has not lost a non-conference game since Nov. 23, 2013 against No. 5/6 Notre Dame—a span of 53 days. Penn’s last non-conference regular season road loss was Dec. 21, 2012 at Drexel—a span of 390 days.
Freshman Sydney Stipanovich leads the Ivy League with 32 blocks in 11 games—there are four Ivy League teams with fewer blocks and all those teams have played at least 13 games. The next closest Ivy player is Temi Fagbenle with 24 blocks in 14 games. Stipanovich, who is already just two blocks from Penn’s all-time single-season top 10, is also 13th in the nation with her average of 2.9 blocks per game and Penn ranks 26th as a team with an average of 5.1 per game.
Friday will be a Homecoming of sorts for assistant coach Chris Day. He served as an assistant at Saint Joseph's for seven seasons. He helped the Hawks to a 128-94 record, including 22 wins and WNIT victory in the 2011-12 season. Additionally, he helped the team to three straight postseason appearences from 2010-12 and at least 20 wins in his final two seasons with the program.
Penn is 2-3 on Saturdays this season and 6-0 during the rest of the week ... Penn is 21-3 over the last two seasons when leading at the half (6-1 this season) ... The Quakers are 5-1 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 five different leading scorers in the last five games (Stipanovich, Allen, Ray, Baron, Bonenberger) ... 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 98 consecutive games for the Quakers—Penn is now 50-48 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 18-66 (.214) 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 10-45 (.182) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a winning record of 42-29 (.592).
Two Penn Wins Would...
... clinch a share of the program's first-ever Big 5 title.
... be the first season with three Big 5 wins.
... mark the best 13-game start in program history at 10-3.
A Penn Win Would...
... be the ninth in the last 11 games.
... mark just the second season in school history with multiple Big 5 wins.
Two Penn Losses Would...
... snap a school record non-conference winning streak.
... mark the first losses on the road this season.
... be less good than a win.
Last Time Out
In the Ivy opener for both teams, Penn fell to Princeton, 84-53, in a Saturday matinee at The Palestra. Penn was up 7-5 at the 16:27 mark, but just as the Quakers went cold, the Tigers got hot. Princeton went on a 16-0 run over the next five minutes and led 21-7. Penn got within 21-12 with 10:04 left in the first half, but that was the final time the Quakers were within single digits. The teams played even throughout the rest of the half. The Tigers led 32-17, but Penn scored seven of the next 10 and trailed 35-24 with 1:55 until the half, but Princeton pushed the lead back to 13, 38-25, at the break. Penn was within 53-41 after a layup from Alyssa Baron with 12:17 remaining, but the Tigers put the game away with a 20-2 run. Princeton’s lead then hovered around 30 for the final seven minutes.
Following the matchups at Villanova and at Saint Joseph's the Quakers have one more City Series opponent remainaing—at Temple on Wednesday, Jan. 22 (7 p.m.). Then the final non-conference game of the year against NJIT at The Palestra on Jan. 25 (5 p.m.).