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PHILADELPHIA - The Big 5 title is on the line Tuesday at The Pavilion. Villanova (11-6, 3-0 Big 5) looks to sweep the Philadelphia conference and claim the city’s 2012 championship. The Quakers (7-6, 0-2 Big 5) look to snap a four-game losing streak overall and a nine-game skid against the Wildcats. Tip is at 7 p.m.
Catching the Game
Live video and live stats will be available at Villanova.com at the links above. A complete recap and box score can then be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.
In the Series vs. Villanova
Last Meeting: L, 52-57 at The Palestra (1/12/11)
In 38 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. That remains Penn’s only win against the Wildcats away from The Palestra. Villanova has won the last nine meetings, taking the last three at The Palestra by a combined 14 points, but winning the last three at The Pavilion by a combined 90 points.
About the Wildcats
Villanova started the season at 10-2 and was receiving votes in the national polls. But the Wildcats have dropped four of the last five. Two of those have come by a single point and the latest defeat was at the hands of No. 3 Connecticut. Villanova, historically known for its defense and three-point efficiency, ranks second in the Big East in assist-to-turnover ration (1.3) and third in three-point shooting (34.3%). The Wildcats also lay claim as the best free throw shooting team in the Big East at 75.4%. However, the Wildcats do rank at or near the bottom of the conference in blocks and offensive rebounding. Laura Sweeney leads the Wildcats with 14.9 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game and 1.3 blocks per game. She leads all Big East players with an average of 5.9 defensive rebounds per game. Devon Kane is second in the Big East shooting at a clip of 44.2 percent from beyond the arc. Rachel Roberts is fifth at 40.8%.
Turning It Around
Penn was 2-26 just two seasons ago. However, this season...The Quakers registered the best 10-game start in team history (7-3) ... Penn opened 5-0 at home for the first time since 2003-04 ... The Quakers won seven games before the month of January for the first time in the program’s 42-year history ... Penn’s seven non-conference wins rank tied for fourth-most all-time in school history ... Penn went through a stretch of 13 games without losing back-to-back games—the longest streak since 2003-04 (19 games) ... The Quakers won seven of nine games for the first time in seven years (2004-05).
No. 7 in the Nation
Villanova enters Tuesday with one of the top three-point shooting teams in the Big East. The Wildcats rank third among the 16 teams in their conference with a three-point percentage of 34.3. They have three different players that shoot better than 40 percent from that distance. Entering last week, Penn ranked seventh in the country in three-point defense. Opponents were shooting just 23.1 percent (34-of-147) against the Quakers this year. And only Wofford and South Carolina had given up fewer than the 34 made threes Penn has allowed. At the Surf ‘N Slam Classic, Penn’s two opponents combined to go 1-for-17 (5.9%) from beyond the arc, and in the last nine games, opponents have made just 25 of 132 attempts (18.9%).
No. 1 in the Ivy League
Penn has been near the top of the Ivy League in most defensive categories since Mike McLaughlin took over as head coach two seasons ago. The trend continues this year. The Quakers rank atop the Ivies in scoring defense at 54.9 points per game, field goal percentage defense (35.8%) and three-point percentage defense (23.3%).
Penn is 5-0 when scoring more than 50 points ... Either a freshman or sophomore has led the team in scoring in every game this season and in 20 straight games overall ... Alyssa Baron and Meghan McCullough have started 41 consecutive games together ... Penn has had a freshman in its starting lineup for in 41 straight games ... The Quakers are 6-2 this year when they have fewer turnovers than their opponent ... Penn has forced at least 17 turnovers in each win this year ... Senior Jess Knapp is 15 points away from reaching 500 for her career ... In all six Ivy wins under Coach McLaughlin, the Quakers have not allowed more than 49 points and have won each by at least 11 points (avg. margin of victory is 15.6 ppg).
Daunting Big 5
Its a daunting task each year for the Quakers to take on the Big 5. The conference for city bragging rights includes the other four Division I schools in Philadelphia—Temple, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Villanova. The first three are in the Atlantic-10 conference and the Wildcats are in Big East. Since the Quakers defeated Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 1, 2004 at Hagan Arena, 64-57, they have won just once in the last 28 meetings with Big 5 opponents. That win came over La Salle, 45-40, at The Palestra on Jan. 19, 2011. It snapped a 24-game Big 5 losing streak.
Senior captain Jess Knapp has been a stabilizing force over the past three seasons for the Quakers. In that time, she had started all but four games and had played in 66 straight for Penn prior to missing the Ivy Opener against Princeton on Saturday. Her injury in the Surf ‘N Slam Classic could likely end her season and career. Without her in the starting lineup, Penn is just 1-6 with four of those losses by 18 or more points. This season, the Quakers are 7-2 with Knapp in the lineup full-time and 0-4 without.
Watching the Record Books
Senior Jess Knapp has now moved into sole possession of fourth place in the school record book with a total of 90 career blocks. She passed Big 5 Hall of Famer Jewel Clark (2001-04), who had 82 during her time in the Red and Blue. Knapp had 40 blocks in 2009-10 - fifth-most in a single-season in school history. She then had 38 blocks last season (sixth in school history). She is just 10 shy of becoming the fourth player in the history of the program with 100 career blocks.
Charge for a Cure!
January: Luekemia and Lymphoma Society
The women's basketball team is again dedicating its entire season to the fight against several diseases and the team needs your help. Last season, the team started an initiative which they have coined the "Charge for a Cure" program. The team raised more than $4,000 through the initiative last year. Each month of the season will be devoted to help a specific disease with personal ties to the program - American Cancer Society, Autism Speaks, Luekemia and Lymphoma Society, the ALS Foundation, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. This month, the Quakers will be taking charges for Luekemia and Lymphoma Society, but the team is turning to its fans to lend a hand in its efforts. For more information and to donate to "Charge for a Cure," click here.
|CHARGE FOR A CURE!
Last Time Out
A great defensive effort for Penn just didn’t have the offensive support it needed in a 42-34 defeat to Big 5 rival Saint Joseph’s on Saturday afternoon at Hagan Arena. Trailing by four at the half, the Quakers came out energized. A layup from Katy Allen and a pair of free throws from Jourdan Banks immediately tied the game at 19-19. Down 23-21, Penn scored nine straight. Kara Bonenberger, who finished with her second career double-double, tied it on a layup and Allen hit a three from the corner to give the Quakers the lead. After buckets from Alyssa Baron and Bonenberger, the Quakers led 30-23 with 11:44 to go. But the Hawks finally took control on their home floor. The Quakers made just two more field goals the rest of the way. But the defense had Penn in the game in the final minute. Baron stopped an 11-0 run with a layup at the 3:39 mark to pull the Quakers within two, 34-32. And Allen’s driving lay-in cut the deficit to 36-34 with 2:04 to play. However, the Hawks scored scored the last six. It was a great defensive effort from the start as both offenses were frustrated throughout. Penn’s first basket didn’t come until four minutes into the contest - a three from Baron. But due to Penn’s effort on the defensive end, it gave the Quakers a one-point lead. Saint Joseph’s went on the first run of the game with eight of ten points to take a 14-7 lead at the 7:20 mark of the opening half. That lead stretched to 19-11, but junior Brianna Bradford had the last four points of the half to bring the Quakers to within four at the break, 19-15.
Just one more Big 5 game remains before Ivy weekends get underway. The Red and Blue cap off the 2011-12 non-league slate with a trip to Temple’s McGonigle Hall Saturday at 3 p.m.