PHILADELPHIA -Its the annual Battle for 33rd Street. The campuses of Penn and Drexel border each other at 33rd Street and this season, Penn (4-2) hosts the Dragons for neighboorhood bragging rights. Drexel (4-6) will make the short walk over to The Palestra on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tipoff. Fans who bring a teddy bear to be donated to a local ministry will recieve one dollar off admission.
Donate a Teddy Bear!
Fans are encouraged to bring a teddy bear to the game on Saturday and donate it during the Teddy Bear Toss. All fans who bring a teddy bear will receive $1 off admission and can win a prize during the Teddy Bear Toss. Several targets will be set up on the court during halftime and those that land their teddy bear on a target will win a prize! The teddy bears will then be donated to a local Blessed to be a Blessing Ministry.
Catching the Game
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. Drexel
These Philadelphia neighboors have met every year since 1999 and 23 times overall. The Dragons hold a slight edge in the series, 13-10, but have won five of the last six. However, Penn has won five of the last six at The Palestra, including a dramatic 67-65 overtime victory two seasons ago. Overall, the Red and Blue are 9-3 all-time at home against Drexel. Coach McLaughlin is 1-3 versus the Dragons and 1-0 at The Palestra.
About the Dragons
Drexel is the defending WNIT champions and has dropped five of the last seven games to fall to 4-6 on the year. However, the Dragons have played just two games at home this season and their last four losses have come by single digits. Drexel entered this week with the top defense in the CAA at 57.6 points per game and held Hampton to 50 points on Wednesday. The Dragons are holding opponents to just 37.3 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from three (both second in the CAA). They also have the 11th-fewest turnovers among the 343 teams in the country at just 12.0 per game and are second in the CAA with 14.0 assists per game. Sarah Curran leads the team with 10.6 points per game. Meghan Creighton is tops among the Dragons with 40 assists and Fiora Flanagan has a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game. Flanagan is also second in the CAA in three-point percentage at 43.2, while Rachel Pearson is fourth in the league at 41.5 percent and Curran is sixth at 38.5. Tory Thierolf leads the team with five blocks.
Though the Quakers started 0-2, they have faced some tough competition. Entering the weekend, Penn’s first two opponents this season are a combined 16-2. St. Francis Brooklyn is 7-2 and its only two losses came on the road to BCS opponents in St. John’s and Miami (Fla.). No. 4 Notre Dame is undefeated through nine games.
Despite that challenging start to the season, the Quakers have now matched the best six-game start in program history. Currently at 4-2, the Quakers matched the 1980-81 and 2011-12 teams for that distinction. A win on Saturday would match the 2011-12 team for the best seven-game start in the 44-year history of the varsity program.
Decembers to Remember
The holiday season has been kind to the Quakers under head coach Mike McLaughlin. Penn has won six straight games in December and nine of the last 10 (and 12 of the last 14). In contrast, the Red and Blue were 1-5 in November over the last two years. Penn’s last loss in December was against Drexel—exactly one year ago to the day—Dec. 21, 2012 (77-50 at Drexel).
Penn has a chance to win five straight non-conference games for the first time since 2000-01—the program’s all-time winningest team—won seven straight. After a loss to a Texas Tech in the NCAA Tournament, the 2001-02 team won its first two games for a nine-game non-conference regular season winning streak.
Ivy League Rookie of the Week
Freshman Sydney Stipanovich scored a career-high 17 points in just 22 minutes to help guide Penn to its fourth straight victory last week. On Monday, she was honored for her efforts as the Ivy League Rookie of the Week. Stipanovich was just three rebounds shy of a double-double in the 67-57 win over Army. More importantly, 15 of her 17 points came in the second half of the come-from-behind victory. The St. Louis, Mo., native also had two blocks and an assist. She was 6-of-11 (54.5%) from the field and 5-of-6 (83.3%) from the free throw line.
Penn is 4-0 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 three different leading rebounders in the last three games ... The Quakers have won 13 straight games when they have outrebound their opponent ... Alyssa Baron has started 93 consecutive games for the Quakers ... Penn is 9-1 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 31-8 (.795) when they score 60 points, including 3-0 this season. In comparison, the Quakers are just 16-65 (.198) 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 9-44 (.170) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a winning record of 38-29 (.567).
A Penn Win Would...
... be the fifth straight overall.
... match the program’s best seven-game start at 5-2.
... mark the sixth in the last seven games against Drexel at The Palestra.
A Penn Loss Would...
... be just the second at home to Drexel since 1983.
... mark the second straight and sixth in the last seven games against the Dragons.
... be less good than a win.
Last Time Out
A decisive second-half run carried Penn to its fourth straight win as the Quakers topped Army, 67-57, at The Palestra on Dec. 11. It was a tight game until the final minutes. Neither team led by more than two possessions until Penn went on an 18-4 run to put the game away. Penn led by two at the break, 30-28, and maintained a slight lead through the first 10 minutes of the second half. But Army came back to go up 49-46 at the 8:43 mark. Down 49-48, the Quakers hit two deep jumpers on back-to-back possessions to quickly go up 52-49 with 4:49 to go. That sparked the game-clinching run. When Kara Bonenberger sunk a jumper and Meghan McCullough buried a couple free throws, the lead was 60-51 with 2:29 to go. Penn led by as many as 13, 66-53, after four straight made free throws from Stipanovich.
Following a week off for the holiday season, the Quakers will fly to Miami where they will bring in the New Year with a matchup against the Hurricanes. It will be Penn’s first-ever visit to Coral Gables and the first all-time meeting with Miami (Fla.). Tip off is set for 2 p.m. on Jan. 1.