Big 5 Matchup for Women's Basketball Saturday at La Salle

Game Notes

PHILADELPHIA - Coming off its first win of the season, Penn will ring in the New Year with its second Big 5 matchup of the season as the Quakers first game in the new decade is at La Salle Saturday at 1 p.m. Both teams are in search of their first Big 5 win of the year as both have lost to Villanova in their only Big 5 contest thus far.

Catching the Game
Video and live stats will be available at GoExplorers.com. A full recap and box score can be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.

In the Series
History isn’t so kind to the Quakers when it comes to the Explorers. La Salle has won 31 of the 36 meetings, which includes 31 of the last 34 after Penn won the first two games between the schools. Penn has not beaten La Salle on the road since that first meeting in 1974 and has never won in Tom Gola Arena (0-5). The last Quakers victory in the series came in 2004, a 51-49 win at The Palestra. Last season, Penn led throughout, but were stunned when the Explorers hit the game-winning basket with 2.3 seconds left.

About Explorers
La Salle is coming off a tough loss to Monmouth where they held a 17-point halftime lead. The Explorers have struggled against some tough competition on their home floor, going 0-4 at Tom Gola Arena so far this season. La Salle is scoring just more than 52 points per game, but gives up just 60.2 per game. The Explorers shoot a respectable 37.2 percent from the floor and are holding opponents under 30 percent from beyond the arc—Penn shoots under 20 percent from that distance. Morgan Robertson (10.7) is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder (6.9) and had her first double-double of the season last game. Tara Lapetina leads the team with 33 assists, but Jamie Walsh has added 32 this season. Ashley Gale—who had 20 against Penn last season—has a team-best 20 steals.

Halftime Headway
Penn has won five straight when leading at the half. The problem this year has been keeping opponents close within the first 20 minutes. The Quakers haven’t been within five points at intermission in any of their nine losses this season. The closest they’ve been was a 17-11 deficit at Villanova and they have been down double-digits at the half four times. However, when playing from ahead in the second half, the Quakers have not relinquished the lead since one year ago to the day—Jan. 2, 2009 against Temple. They led 37-36 and lost 81-70.

A Penn Win Would...
... be the second straight overall.
... be the first at La Salle since 1973-74.
... break a 19-game losing streak to Big 5 opponents.
... be Penn’s first Big 5 win since defeating St. Joseph’s on Dec. 1, 2004.

Last Time Out
As much as it was for themselves, this one was for the coach. The Penn women’s basketball team earned its first win under head coach Mike McLaughlin, defeating St. Francis (N.Y.), 52-48, in a New Years Eve matinee at The Palestra Thursday. Penn scored on its first two possessions for a 5-0 lead. But St. Francis would score the next 12 points. Coach McLaughlin called a timeout to regroup his troops. They responded with scores on four consecutive possessions for a 16-13 advantage with 11:59 left in the half. Meanwhile, the Red and Blue held the Terriers without a single basket for nearly 11 minutes. With St. Francis managing just three free throws over a span of 10:56, Penn took advantage. Smith’s jumper in the paint capped a 19-3 run and Penn had a 31-19 lead at the half. The lead was 47-34 when St. Francis dropped in four straight to get within single digits, but it was an Adams jumper that momentarliy halted the run with five and a half minutes left. St. Francis scored 10 straight and were within a point with three minutes to go. Smith hit one of two free throws for a two-point lead with two minutes remaining. The score was the same, 50-48, when St. Francis had the ball last with 10 seconds left. The Terriers got a decent look at the basket in the paint, but the ball rimmed out. Junior Caroline Nicholson then calmly sank both free throws to ice the game.

Up Next
With just one day off between each of its last two games, Penn will finally get a “rest.” The Quakers have two days off before hosting Lehigh on Tuesday at 7 p.m. After that, its the first Ivy League game of the season at The Palestra against Princeton on Jan. 9.

Download: 12-31-09 StFrancis.pdf