PHILADELPHIA - Coming off the largest single-season turnaround in the program's history, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball will look to carry last season's momentum into the 2011-12 season. In addition to the traditional Ivy League schedule and the five City Six matchups, the Quakers' schedule also includes a trip out west to the San Diego Surf 'N Turf Slam Classic and a visit to South Bend in a meeting with Notre Dame.
"I feel we've got a pretty good strength of schedule this year," said head coach Mike McLaughlin, who is heading into his third season at the helm of the program. "We face some great non-conference competition and have some lengthy trips to California, Indiana and Niagara (N.Y.). So we'll be challenged, but that will give us a mark as to where we are as a team when we head into Big 5 play - where all four of our games are away - and Ivy League play."
Women's basketball will tip-off the season on Sunday, Nov. 13 when it hosts Saint Francis (N.Y) in The Palestra. The following weekend, Rider will come to town on Saturday, Nov. 19. After two home games to start the season, Penn will take on La Salle in Big 5 action on Nov. 22 and leave Philadelphia for the first time with a trip to Niagara on Nov. 27. The Quakers will then return to The Palestra for a Nov. 30 meeting with Lafayette before heading out to Indiana to take on Notre Dame on Dec. 2. A season ago, the Fighting Irish fell just six points short of a national championship and finished the 2010-11 season ranked second in the nation.
Penn will then come home for a pair of games in The Palestra against Army (Dec. 10) and cross-town rival Drexel (Dec. 22). Over the holiday break, the Quakers will make their trek west to take part in the San Diego Surf 'N Turf Slam Classic. In its first game out west, Penn will take on UNC-Greensboro (Dec. 29) before playing host, San Diego State, the following day (Dec. 30).
The New Year will see the Ivy League portion of the schedule get underway when defending Ivy League champion Princeton comes to town on Jan. 7. After beginning Ivy League play, Penn will host NJIT in mid-week non-conference meeting on Jan. 11. Big 5 play will resume on Jan. 14 when the Quakers head to Saint Joseph's for a meeting with the Hawks. Penn will also take on Villanova (Jan. 18) and Temple (Jan. 21) the following week to wrap up the Big 5 portion of the schedule.
Ivy League play continues the following weekend and the Quakers will be at home for the first two Ivy League weekends against Columbia (Jan. 27) and Cornell (Jan. 29), and Yale (Feb. 3) and Brown (Feb. 4).
The Quakers will play their first road game in the Ivy League on Feb. 10 when they travel to Harvard (Feb. 10) and then Dartmouth (Feb. 11). The following weekend will see the team travel to Cornell (Feb. 17) and Columbia (Feb. 18). After four Ivy League road games, Penn will welcome Dartmouth (Feb. 24) and Harvard (Feb. 25) to The Palestra for the final home games of the season. In the sixth and final weekend of Ivy League games, Penn travels to Brown (Mar. 2) and Yale (Mar. 3). The regular season will culminate with a trip to Princeton on Mar. 6.
Penn returns three starters and eight letterwinners from the 2010-11 squad, including last season's Ivy League Rookie of the Year Alyssa Baron. Sophomore Meghan McCullough, who started 28 games last season and senior Jess Knapp, who started 27, also return for a squad that features six freshman and five sophomores on the 15-player roster. Last year, the Quakers went 11-17 overall, including five Ivy League victories to finish sixth overall in the league.