PHILADELPHIA - For the second straight season, head coach Mike McLaughlin earned Big 5 Coach of the Year honors as announced by the Philadelphia basketball conference on Tuesday. Sophomore Sydney Stipanovich was named first-team All-Big 5 and senior captain Kathleen Roche was a second-team honoree for the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team.
Prior to last year, no Penn coach had ever won Big 5 Coach of the Year accolades. McLaughlin earned the award for the second consecutive season as he led the program to its first-ever Big 5 title and a school record three Big 5 wins. In all, Penn (21-9) matched a school record with 10 non-conference wins this year and won 20 games for just the third time in school history (second straight season). The Quakers also reached the WNIT for the first time and earned a school record third-straight postseason appearance.
This is the first All-Big 5 honor for Stipanovich and Roche. The duo were also All-Ivy selections as Stipanovich was a unanimous first-team Ivy pick this year and Roche was honorable mention. Stipanovich, who was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, led the Ivy League in blocks with 87 rejections -- second-most in school history behind her record of 99 last season. The St. Louis, Mo., nativehad a double-double in two of Penn’s Big 5 games this year (and a near triple-double in a third Big 5 contest). In the three wins over the Big 5, Stipanovich averaged an impressive 13.7 points per game, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 blocks.
Roche finished with the best three-point percentage in school history this season at 42.9 percent, while her 60 threes were a team-high and the sixth-most in school history. She finished with 155 career three-pointers which was also ranks sixth in the school record book. The River Forest, Ill., native started all 30 games, led the team in mintues and steals, and finished second on the team in scoring with 9.4 points per game (Stipanovich was first at 11.3 points/game). In the Big 5 title-clinching win over Temple on Jan. 5, Roche had a career-high 22 points and seven made field goals, including four three-pointers.
Penn capped its 2014-15 campaign in the second round of the WNIT on Sunday. The Quakers finished 21-9 overall and 11-3 in Ivy League play. Penn's four senior captains --Katy Allen,Kara Bonenberger,Kathleen RocheandRenee Busch-- will graduate as the all-time winningest class in school history. They won 74 games, which included the Big 5 title, an Ivy League championship and NCAA appearance in 2013-14, and the first three postseason wins in school history.