PHILADELPHIA - What a bizzare road trip to Yale and Brown last season. The Quakers got caught in three feet of snow, endured a hotel evacuation during the blizzard, played a league game in a recreation gym and survived two game postponements to split an extended weekend. Penn is hoping for better conditions and an extra win this time around. The Friday's matchup is at Brown, followed by Yale’s Senior Night on Saturday. Both games start at 7 p.m. and can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Catching the Games
If you can’t make it out to support the Quakers on the road, you can watch both games on the Ivy League Digital Network at IvyLeagueDigitalNetwork.com. Live stats can be found on Friday at BrownBears.com, and at YaleBulldogs.com on Saturday. Live twitter updates (@PennWBB) are also available throughout each contest. A complete recap and box score can be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of each game.
In the Series vs. Brown/Yale
Earlier this season, Penn swept Brown and Yale at The Palestra for the first time since 2009. On the road against these squads, the Quakers are riding the program’s first-ever three-game winning streak in Providence, but have lost four of the last five in New Haven. Overall, Penn leads the all-time series with Brown, 38-35, but trails Yale by the same tally. In his fifth season, Coach McLaughlin is 2-7 against Yale and 6-3 against Brown.
About the Bears
*Brown finished the non-conference season at 6-8 and split its first two Ivy weekends. But the Bears have dropped four straight since then. Brown’s two Ivy conquests were at Columbia and home against Dartmouth.
*Brown still ranks among the national leaders in three-point percentage. The Bears are 11th in the country from beyond the arc at 37.9 percent. They made 9-of-21 (42.9%) in the first matchup with Penn. Brown ranks among the middle of the pack of the Ivy League in most other categories, but are second-to-last in the league in blocks and rebounding.
*Sophie Bikofsky is second in the nation with a three-point percentage of 49.7. Lauren Clarke (16.0 ppg) is second in the league in scoring, while Bikofsky (13.5 ppg) also averages double figures. Rebecca Musgrove has a team-high 35 steals and 62 assists. Bikofsky leads the team with 14 blocks and 4.1 rebounds per game.
About the Bulldogs
*Yale went 6-8 in non-conference play and has won six of 10 against the Ivy League. The Bulldogs lost three straight to the top three teams in the league, but bounced back to sweep Cornell and Columbia in a pair of close games at home last weekend.
*Yale is third in the league in scoring and fourth in defense. The Bulldogs are among the middle of the Ivy League in most categories, but are atop the Ancient Eight with 8.9 steals per game and a +3.17 turnover margin. The Bulldogs have struggled to defend the three where opponents shoot at a 36.3-percent clip.
*Sarah Halejian is third in the league in scoring at 16.0 points per game. Janna Graf is second on the team with 9.9 ppg. Halejian leads the Ivies with 2.3 steals per game and is second in the league with 3.5 assists per game. She ranks second in the Ivies behind Penn’s Meghan McCullough in assist-to-turnover ratio. Meredith Boardman averages a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game. Emmy Allen has a team-best 21 blocks.
Penn is one game behind first-place Princeton, but controls its own destiny to an Ivy title with a matchup against the Tigers set for the season finale. Second place now automatically earns a bid to the WNIT. For the program’s first-ever WNIT bid, the Quakers own a one-game lead over Harvard, but also own the tiebreaker (head-to-head) with a season sweep of the Crimson. Penn’s magic number to clinch the program’s first-ever back-to-back postseason appearances is four (every Penn win and Harvard loss counts toward that number). Harvard and Penn face the same four opponents over the next two weekends—Brown, Columbia, Cornell and Yale.
A Bizzare Weekend
For the first time in two years, the Quakers will play at Yale’s Lee Amphitheater. Last season, the facility suffered from unfavorable playing conditions after a blizzard, and the game was moved to Yale’s recreational facility. After 36 inches of snow fell on New Haven, the game was postponed to Saturday at 4 p.m., and Penn’s game at Brown was moved to Sunday at noon. The Quakers lost to Yale by nine, but topped the Bears by 17.
Rising in the Records
Senior captain Alyssa Baron is the only player in school history with 1,700 career points and 300 career assists. She is 21 points from becoming Penn’s second all-time leading scorer. See pages 19-20 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 third in the nation (and tops among freshman in the NCAA) with an Ivy League-leading 3.87 blocks per game. Her 89 blocks in 23 games are more than every Ivy League team other than Princeton (91). The next closest Ivy player is Harvard’s Temi Fagbenle with 36 blocks in 24 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 fourth 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.
A Career in a Year
Just 23 games into her rookie campaign, Sydney Stipanovich ranks fifth on Penn’s all-time career blocks list. She is one behind current teammate Kara Bonenberger for fourth. Only three Quakers have ever reached 100 career blocks.
As a team, Penn ranks eighth in the NCAA in blocked shots. The Quakers, who broke the single-game team record with 12 blocks in their last matchup with Yale, average a league-best 5.9 blocks per game. Penn is also one of the most disciplined teams in the country as the Quakers have committed the 10th-fewest fouls among 343 Division I schools. The Red and Blue are 16th in the country in scoring defense with opponents only averaging 56.7 points per game. That has been due to strong defense around the perimeter as Penn is 33rd in NCAA in three-point defense (28.0%).
Fourth in the Nation
Even more impressive, only three teams in the nation are tougher to score on than the Quakers. Penn ranks fourth among the 343 Division I schools in field goal percentage defense. The Quakers allow opponents to shoot at just a 34.2 percent clip—which is bettered only by top-ranked and undefeated UCONN, who leads the nation and holds the opposition to 30.3 percent, Texas (33.9%) and Hampton (34.1%). The Quakers rank just in front of fifth-ranked South Carolina (34.2%).
Penn finished the non-conference season ranked last in the Ancient Eight in three-point percentage at 27.2 percent (64-of-235). But in Ivy League play (nine games), the Quakers lead the league at 37.0 percent from beyond the arc, but were just 4-of-20 (20.0%) in Saturday’s loss at Dartmouth. That’s due in part of the hot shooting of juniors Kathleen Roche (7-of-11; 57.9%) and Renee Busch (11-of-23; 47.8%), who are first and second, respectively, from three-point range in conference play. In addition, senior Alyssa Baron averages a league-high 18.1 points per game in Ivy play. Sydney Stipanovich’s 4.6 blocks per game are more than any Ivy League team has averaged in conference play.
Penn is 17-4 in its last 21 games ... The Quakers are 11-1 in the months of December and February this year ... The Red and Blue are 10-1 when their free throw percentage is better than 70 percent and just 6-5 when it is below that mark ... At least two Quakers have scored in double figures in all but one game this year ... Sydney Stipanovich’s eight double-doubles this year are the most in a season at Penn since Jennifer Fleischer finished with 10 in 2004-05 ... Penn has won 23 of the last 24 games when outrebounding its opponent ... The Quakers are 12-0 this year (and 30-1 over the last three seasons) when shooting better than 40 percent ... Penn has reached 70 points in eight games this year (only reached that number 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).
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 Saturday’s loss at Dartmouth. 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 35 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).
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 43-8 (.843) when they score 60 points, including 16-0 this season. In comparison, the Quakers are just 18-69 (.207) when they’ve scored less than 60 points under Coach McLaughlin, including 1-6 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 49-31 (.613).
Tough Start, Tough Stretch
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 17 wins and three are ranked or receiving Top 25 votes. In all, those five losses came against teams with a combined record of 102-29 (.778).
Two Penn Wins Would...
... mark the second-most wins in school history (19).
... be the first 9-2 start in Ivy play since 2003-04 team went 9-2 en route to the Ivy title.
... mark a four-game sweep of Brown and Yale for the first time since 2007.
... make the Quakers 19-6 overall and 9-2 in Ivy play.
A Penn Win Would...
... give the Quakers back-to-back 18-win seasons for just the second time in program history (1999-01).
... be the first back-to-back Ivy winning seasons since an eight-year stretch from 1997-98 to 2004-05.
... mark the first season sweep of Yale since 2007 or the third sweep of Brown in the last four years.
... make the Quakers 18-7 overall and 8-3 in Ivy play.
Two Penn Losses Would...
... be the first winless trip to Brown and Yale since 2010.
... make the Quakers 17-8 overall and 7-4 in Ivy play.
... be less good than two wins.
With first-place in the Ivy League at stake, Penn team rose to the occasion. The Quakers ended Harvard’s 21-game home winning streak and won at Lavietes Pavilion for the first time in 10 years, 63-50, on Friday night. After a high-paced first half, the Quakers took a 31-27 lead into the break. In a more defensive second half, the Quakers slowly extended their lead and cruised in the final minutes. However, the following night, the Quakers fell at the buzzer at Dartmouth, 53-50, to snap the program’s second-longest winning streak at nine games. A slow start led to a 26-17 deficit at halftime. Penn fought back and took a brief 50-49 lead. But Dartmouth went back on top and senior Alyssa Baron missed a game-tying three at the buzzer.
Penn returns home to The Palestra for the first time in three weeks. Its the final homestand of the season and the careers for four Penn seniors. On Friday, March 7, the Red and Blue host Columbia at 7 p.m., and the following night, the Quakers will honor the Class of 2014 prior to an 8 p.m. tip off against Cornell.