2004-05 Women's Basketball Season Review

So much emphasis has been put on the five seniors that wore the Red and Blue for the last time this season. Their leadership on and off the court has already left a mark on the returning Quakers and the women’s basketball program itself. In times of change, consistency is often looked upon with warm feelings and the Class of 2005 was just that for the Penn’s women’s basketball team during the 2004-05 season.

Penn opened the campaign by saying hello to a new coaching staff and the bonds quickly began to strengthen with the first two games of the season. Coach Patrick Knapp brought 21 years, 18 at Georgetown alone, of Division I collegiate coaching experience to Penn, having taken his team to postseason tournament action in four of his last six seasons and twice to the NCAA Tournament.

The Quakers avenged a pair of losses from the previous season, dismantling Northeastern, 76-48, and snatching victory from La Salle, 51-49. In those games, a pair of seniors shined above the rest as Cat Makarewich put down seven three-point field goals against the Huskies, tying a school record, for a career-high 23 points. Amanda Kammes also scored a career high against the Explorers but it was the final two of her team-leading 12 points that made the difference as Kammes drove the lane and scored the winning basket as time expired.

The team headed west for the Quakers’ first taste of nationally ranked competition. Penn faced Colorado and then No. 22 Maryland at the 18th Annual Coors Classic, a tournament that also included No. 1 LSU. The Terrapins would be one of five teams Penn competed against this season that advanced to postseason action. Maryland, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 16 Temple and Dartmouth all earned berths in the Women’s NCAA Tournament while Villanova was a part of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

After Penn’s 13-point loss to the Buckeyes in The Palestra, the Red and Blue went on a seven-game winning streak, their longest of the season. A part of that run was a six-game, 42-day road trip that kept the Quakers away from The Palestra for the entire month of January. But it was worth it as Penn not only ended its non-conference schedule with a 7-6 record, the Quakers also began their run for a second-consecutive Ivy League title with a perfect 3-0 record.

The month-long road trip will also be remembered for the milestones that were passed during it. In fact two were passed in one game. Senior guard Karen Habrukowich became just the 16th Quaker in women’s basketball history to eclipse the 1,000-point mark for a career on Jan. 18 against Lehigh. Habrukowich dropped in the necessary 16 points in the first half of Penn’s 68-53 victory over the Mountain Hawks, which in turn gave Coach Patrick Knapp the 300th of his career.

Perhaps the most memorable game of the 2004-05 season came in the final contest of the 42-day road trip as Penn traveled just one hour to Princeton for a showdown with the Tigers in Jadwin Gym. Despite trailing for most of the game, Penn tied the score on a Monica Naltner jumper with six seconds left in regulation and Habrukowich nailed a trey with 19 seconds left in double overtime to seal the victory.

Two games later, Habrukowich climbed atop the Penn record books as she became the Quakers’ all-time leader in three-point field goals, passing Colleen Kelly (1995-98) who previously held the record with 170 treys. The Newtown, Pa. native finished her career with her name securely cemented in Penn women’s basketball history. She went on to finish sixth on the all-time scoring list with 1,217 career points and fourth on the all-time free-throw percentage list with a 76.2 average (224-for-294).

The Red and Blue’s first Ivy losses since the 2003-04 season came at The Palestra. Harvard earned its second win in a row over Penn with a 54-51 win after trailing for most of the game. A late steal and a pair of free throws were the difference even though Habrukowich had a clean look at a three-pointer that would have sent the game to overtime. The closing moments of Penn’s 73-71 loss to Dartmouth were even more heart-wrenching as the Quakers battled back from a double-digit deficit to tie the game. With 14:24 remaining and the Big Green holding a 14-point advantage, Penn began to chip away, finally bringing the game even on a Naltner jumper from the top of the key. Dartmouth’s Elise Morrison hit the game-winner with seven seconds remaining but the effort to fight back under those circumstances showed the grit of this Red and Blue team.

Penn bounced back with back-to-back wins over Columbia and Cornell and went back to Philadelphia in the title hunt. Home losses to Brown (76-69) and Yale (74-64 OT) took a chance for a repeat out of Penn’s hands as the Quakers would need to win out and look for some help down the road. In the Columbia game, six points from Habrukowich, including a game-tying trifecta with seven seconds left in regulation, brought Penn back from a six-point deficit with a little over one minute remaining.

Home tilts against Princeton, Cornell and Columbia brought the Quakers a three-game winning streak heading into the final weekend of the season. Despite dropping the final two games of the season to co-champions Dartmouth and Harvard, Penn finished the Ancient Eight schedule with a winning record for the 14th time in program history, including the last eight seasons, and finished the year with at least eight League victories for the 12th time.

As a team Penn needs to look no further than the Ivy statistical categories to judge the level of success for this past year. The Quakers finished the year as League leaders in three categories, while finishing in the top three in a total of eight. Penn bested all Ancient Eight foes in scoring defense (58.7 ppg), field-goal percentage defense (37.3) and three-point field-goal percentage (36.8), a category in which the Red and Blue ranked 19th among all NCAA Division I teams.

The Quakers experienced single-game season highs against all levels of competition. Their 76 points against Northeastern was a season best, as was their 14 treys, field-goal percentage (59.6) and three-point accuracy (66.7). Against then No. 21 Maryland, the Red and Blue hit 22-of-25 free throws (88.0) for a season high. Penn rejected a season-best eight shots against Lafayette in the Quakers’ most lopsided victory of the season, 68-33.

Penn held its own defensively and it shows when recapping some of the Quakers’ opponents’ single-game lows. Lafayette was held to just 10 field goals with a shooting percentage of 16.7 (10-for-60). Cornell was held to a 7.7 percent (1-for-13) three-point shooting percentage in one of the Red and Blue’s hardest-fought Ivy wins of the season, 51-50. Princeton was held to a 36.8 free-throw percentage and even Ivy co-champion and NCAA Tournament participant Dartmouth was held to just 23 rebounds against the Quakers.

The guard spot continued to be the deepest position for Penn this past season as the Quakers started three in nearly every game and brought three more off the bench on a regular basis. When talking of guards, you think of scoring and no one did that better for the Red and Blue than Habrukowich. The senior finished the year as the team leader in scoring (13.1 ppg) and paced her team with five games with 20 or more points. Her 61 three-pointers not only led Penn but they also ranked her 49th in the country, tied her for first in the Ancient Eight and tied for fourth on the Penn all-time list. Habrukowich scored a season-high 22 points twice but her shining moments came at Princeton and on senior night at The Palestra. Against the Tigers, she nailed a trey in double overtime that turned out to be the game-winner. Against Columbia on senior night, Habrukowich took over in the final 70 seconds, scoring seven points and recording a crucial steal to secure the win. Habrukowich was among the nation’s elite in three-point accuracy, ranking 32nd (40.1). Her performance throughout the season ranked her in the top-15 in eight Ivy categories and earned her the second All-Ivy selection of her career and her first first-team nod.

Makarewich showed from the beginning of the season that she was a three-point threat that should not be left alone when she had the ball anywhere near the arc. This was never more evident than in the season-opener against Northeastern when the senior knocked down a Penn record-tying seven three-pointers en route to a career-high 23 points. The performance earned her yet another trifecta, Ivy League, Big 5 and Penn Player of the Week honors. Makarewich finished the season with a 42.4 (36-for-85) shooting percentage from outside, which led her team and the Ancient Eight.

Getting Habrukowich, Makarewich and others the ball in order to have the chance to score was Kammes. The Wheaton, Ill. native almost matched her previous career total of assists this season, finishing 2004-05 with a career-best 103 helpers and bringing her total to 227. She dropped a season-high eight dimes on three occasions and also led Penn in scoring once this season, dropping in 12 points against La Salle in a thrilling 51-49 victory. Kammes ranked second in the Ivy League in assists per game (4.16) and assists-to-turnover ratio (1.76).

Joey Rhoads was Penn’s little guard that could, and did, in 2004-05. The Huntingdon Valley, Pa. native scored a season-best 16 points three times this season and racked up double digits in points on 12 occasions. Rhoads also started three games and that suited well also as she averaged 15.7 points per game during those three contests. After two seasons in the Red and Blue, Rhoads has accumulated 431 points in her career and looks to be a scoring threat in her two remaining seasons with the Quakers. She finished the year ranked third on the team in scoring with 9.0 ppg and ranked 11th in the Ivy League in three-point shooting (33.0) and 10th in three-pointers per game (1.33).

Lauren Pears came into her own during her sophomore campaign, appearing in all 27 games for the Quakers. She scored a career-high eight points twice and was among Penn’s best thieves, recording 16 steals. Along with Pears, Maria DiDonato, Kimberly Franklin and Brilynne Parrish provided depth in the back court for the Red and Blue. DiDonato’s experience and leadership showed through on and off the court to help prepare newcomers Franklin and Parrish for the next three years of their respective careers. DiDonato’s final season in a Penn uniform was statistically highlighted with a career-matching nine points against Lafayette on 4-of-6 shooting from the field.

To look forward towards the possible future success of the Penn women’s basketball program, you may not have to look much further than the team’s premier forward, Monica Naltner. Naltner burst onto the scene in 2004-05, starting all but one game during her sophomore campaign. The Cincinnati, Ohio native registered nine double-digit scoring games and poured in a career-best 17 points in a one-point loss at Marist. She racked up 225 points this season and finished fourth in scoring with 8.3 ppg and second on the team with 4.4 rebounds per game, also tying her for 18th in the Ivy League. Naltner recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 10 boards against Cornell.

Ashley Gray and Jenna Markoff are two more forwards that came on strong in 2004-05. Playing in 17 and 14 games, respectively, the duo accrued a combined 55 rebounds and each proved the ability to score if needed as Gray recorded a career-high six points at Dartmouth and Markoff hit the six-point mark on two occasions. Gray grabbed four rebounds against Princeton and Dartmouth, while Markoff’s career-best five boards against Princeton loomed large in the Quakers 61-59 win in double overtime.

Penn also has a corps of forwards that will lead the Quakers into next season. Rachel Wilson successfully followed knee surgery and rehabilitation by appearing in 13 games, grabbing 18 rebounds and scoring points in three games. Henley Hansen and Teresa Fallon also earned valuable time on the court. Fallon appeared in six games during the 2004-05 campaign and Hansen registered a career-high five points against Lafayette and three boards against Big 5 rival Villanova.

An offense often has one focal point; an aspect of a team that is considered to a “go to” spot. For the Red and Blue, that is the center position and Jennifer Fleischer. Coming off an All-Ivy performance as a sophomore, Fleischer stepped up as a junior, recording 10 double-doubles. At one point, Fleischer rattled off four double-doubles in succession, amassing 77 points and 68 rebounds during the run. She was the only Ivy Leaguer to average a double-double this season with 10.8 points per game and 10.6 boards per contest. Fleischer’s dominance showed through on two distinct occasions and they happened to come in back-to-back games. At Columbia, the New Hartford, N.Y. native scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed a then career-best 19 caroms. She did two better the next evening at Cornell, pulling down 21 boards and dropping in 13 points. Her rebound total against the Big Red tied for the fourth-most in a single game at Penn. Fleischer finished 10th in the nation in rebounding and led the League by almost two boards per game over her closest competitor. She also led on the offensive (3.11 orpg) and defensive (7.52 drpg) glass as well. But rebounding is not all that Fleischer contributed to the Quakers this season. She was also one of the Ancient Eight’s top shot blockers with 1.15 swats per game and ranked sixth in the League in field-goal percentage (46.6) and 14th in scoring (10.8). Fleischers’ 31 blocks this season gave her 80 for her career, which is fourth on Penn’s all-time list and her six swats against Lafayette ties for the third-most blocks in a single game at Penn.

When Fleischer needed a respite, Katie Kilker was more than able to fill in. The six-foot, two-inch senior center appeared in all 27 games in her final season in the Red and Blue, making a pair of starts. Kilker scored double digits three times, hitting the 10-point mark on each occasion. Her most impressive performance came against Rider when she scored 10 points in just nine minutes on the floor. Kilker followed up with a season-best six rebounds against Lafayette.

Penn was not able to retain the Ivy League title it captured a season ago but it found success in so many more ways – the team was led by one of the strongest senior classes in recent history; underclassmen stepped out of the shadows; the team faced change head on and by season’s end had formed a bond. Success is measured in many ways, broken into tangible and intangible rewards. The trophy may not currently be in Penn’s possession but the champion still lives inside each member of the women’s basketball program.

Written by Mat Kanan, associate director of athletic communications