PHILADELPHIA – Penn’s all-time blocks’ leader. 1,000-point scorer. Ivy League champion. In a season of historic achievements for Sydney Stipanovich, she may have saved her best for last on Friday—as she was named the Ivy League’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. It is the first time a student-athlete has earned both distinctions in the same season. Stipanovich is also the first player in history to earn all three of the Ivy League’s major awards, as she was named the Rookie of the Year in 2014.
In addition to Stipanovich nabbing half of the conference’s yearly awards, the Quakers also had Michelle Nwokedi tabbed first-team All-Ivy and Anna Ross as an honorable mention. It is the fourth time in program history that the Quakers put two players on the Ivy League’s First Team.
Shots were extremely hard to come by against the Ivy-champion Quakers this season, mainly because of Stipanovich patrolling the paint. The junior tied Nwokedi for the league lead in blocks per game at 2.7. In fact, Nwokedi and Stipanovich combined for more swatted shots (152) as a duo than every team in the Ivy League. In addition, Stipanovich was the only player in the league to average a double-double. She finished the regular season with 11 of them, averaging 12.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
It was a season of milestones for Stipanovich. Not only did she become the program’s all-time leader in blocks in December, but also scored her 1,000th career points just two weeks ago. Stipanovich is the 21st player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-point mark, and also just the sixth Quaker to ever record more than 1,000 points and 700 rebounds for her career. She was named Ivy League Player of the Week a total of four times this season, and now has 10 weekly awards in her career.
If Stipanovich was 1A for the Quakers, then Nwokedi was 1B. Not only did she share the conference high in blocks per game, but also ranked second behind Stipanovich in rebounds per contest (9.6). She also scored at a clip of 14.2 points per game, and scored double figures in a team-best 23 tilts this season. The 2015 Ivy League Rookie of the Year was especially impressive over the Quakers’ final three contests—all must wins—averaging 17.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Nwokedi was named Ivy League Player of the Week three times, including this past Monday.
Nwokedi wrapped up the regular season with nine double-doubles, hauling in at least seven boards in all but three games.
Ross earns honorable mention fresh off pouring in a team-high 18 points in the Quakers’ Ivy-clinching win over Princeton on Tuesday night. The sophomore guard has been a steady presence in the backcourt this season, starting all 28 games for Head Coach Mike McLaughlin. She nearly averaged double figures at 9.3 points per game, to go along with 3.4 assists per contest. Ross upped those averages to 10.0 points and 3.9 helpers in Ivy contests, while also averaging 4.2 rebounds. She led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5) for the second-straight season, and was one of the main reasons that the Quakers ranked third in the country in fewest giveaways per game (10.9).
The Red and Blue will learn their NCAA Tournament fate on Monday Night, as it will be announced live on the Women's Basketball Selection Special on ESPN at 7 p.m. The Red and Blue will be hosting a “Watch Party” in The Palestra—open to the public—with the doors opening at 6:15 p.m.