Women's Basketball Begins Ivy Title Defense

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PHILADELPHIA - As is tradition, Penn and Princeton mark the first Ivy League game of the season. This season’s opener has an even brighter spotlight on it as the Quakers—fresh of the program’s first-ever Big 5 title—match up with undefeated and nationally-ranked Princeton. The No. 22 Tigers are the first Ivy League team to be ranked in the Top 25 and are off to the best start in Ivy League women’s history at 16-0. Their last regular season loss? To the Quakers at Jadwin Gym in last season’s de facto Ivy League championship game on March 11. The rematch will take place at the same location in a doubleheader with the men’s teams. The women tip off at 2 p.m., followed by the men at 5 p.m.

Catching the Games
Fans can watch both the men's and women's Ivy League openers on the Ivy League Digital Network (ILDN.tv). Live stats can be found on at GoPrincetonTigers.com. Live twitter updates (@PennWBB) are also available. A complete recap and box score can be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.

In the Series vs. Princeton: 77th Meeting
We may be in the midst of the most hotly-contested era of a rivalry that dates back to 1974. Princeton won the first eight in this series and had recently won 11 straight before the Quakers knocked off the Tigers in an incredibly rare de facto Ivy League championship game in the season finale at Jadwin Gym last year. In all, the Tigers hold a 52-24 all-time series lead, and have won 10 straight Ivy openers over the Quakers.

About the Tigers
- This is Penn's first game outside of Philadelphia since Dec. 2 at Lafayette. Meanwhile, the Tigers have played just four homes games. Of their 16 wins, only one team has been within single digits—American lost, 63-56 in D.C.
- The Tigers lead the Ivy League in nearly every single statistical category. They are the best three-point shooting team in the country at 43.1 percent and sixth in the nation with a 48.1 field goal percentage. Defensively, they are 10th in the NCAA allowing just 52.3 points per game.
- Blake Dietrick leads three Tigers in double figures with an average of 15.2 points per game—Michelle Miller (12.8 pts) and Annie Tarakchian (10.4). Tarakchian leads the team with 8.9 rebounds per game. Vanessa Smith leads the league in field goal percentage (.578) and Dietrick is tops with 5.7 assists per game. Tarakchian (.526) and Miller (.500) are the Ivies’ best three-point shooters.

Ranked Teams
Penn is looking for its first-ever win over a ranked opponent. The last three times the Quakers have gone up against a Top 25 team it has been against the Top 5, including a 97-52 loss at No. 4 Tennessee in the season opener on Nov. 14. Prior to that, Penn lost to No. 5 Notre Dame at The Palestra last season (76-54) and also lost to the No. 3 Fighting Irish in South Bend (69-38) on Dec. 2, 2011.

Improbable Feat
Penn clinched a share of its first Big 5 championship on Monday. It was an improbable feat. In the 36-year history of the Big 5, not only had Penn never won the Philadelphia basketball conference, but they had never come close. Penn had never finished higher than third in the five-team city conference. The Quakers had won a total of just 18 Big 5 games over the first 35 seasons. That’s a combined record of 18-122 (.129). In 19 of those 35 years, Penn did not win a single game at 0-4, and only ONCE prior to 2013-14 had the Quakers won more than one Big 5 game in a season.

Enter Coach McLaughlin...
Under head coach Mike McLaughlin, the Quakers have won seven Big 5 games in the last six years, including a 5-2 (.714) mark over the last two seasons. Prior to that, Penn won a total of seven Big 5 games between 1994-2009 (15 seasons). In all, in the 30 years prior to the Coach McLaughlin era, Penn won just 14 Big 5 games. That gives Coach McLaughlin one-third of Penn’s all-time Big 5 wins. He already owns the school-record with seven career Big 5 victories—surpassing Julie Soriero, who won five in eight seasons.

No. 4 in the Nation
Penn ranks fourth in the nation as a team with 6.9 blocks per game. The Quakers have nearly double the amount of blocks as every other team in the Ivy League as Yale is second in the Ivies with 3.9 blocks per game. Sydney Stipanovich is 15th in the nation and leads the Ivy League with 3.2 blocks per game. Freshman Michelle Nwokedi is second in the league with 1.7 per game and Kara Bonenberger is eighth with just under 1.0 per contest.

Getting Defensive
The Quakers are among the nation’s best in several other categories. Head Coach Mike McLaughlin has always had strong defensive teams. This year is no different. The Quakers rank second in the Ivy League in scoring defense and three-point percentage defense, and are first in field goal percentage defense and blocks. Of 343 teams, the Red and Blue are 15th in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.339) and 17th in scoring defense (53.2). The Quakers are also one of the nation’s more diciplined teams as they lead the Ivies and rank 17th in the country with just 14.6 fouls per game.

Already? Second All-Time
Sophomore Sydney Stipanovich had six blocks in the season opener at No. 4 Tennessee which finished one shy of the opponent record at Thompson-Boling Arena, last set by Brittany Griner. Also in that game, Stipanovich became just the fourth Penn player to surpass 100 career blocks (reminder, she was playing her first game of her sophomore season). On Monday, in just the 11th game of her second season, she moved into second-place on Penn’s career blocks list with 134. Senior Kara Bonenberger joined Stipanovich in Penn’s 100 career blocks club with a pair of rejections at Drexel on Dec. 20. That means two of the five Penn players to record 100 career blocks are currently on the team and playing next to each other.

Double-Doubles
Sydney Stipanovich has a double-double in two of Penn’s Big 5 games this year (and a near triple-double in the other Big 5 contest). In those three wins over the Big 5, Stipanovich has averaged an impressive 13.7 points per game, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 blocks. She has also posted two other double-doubles this season and has 14 for her career. Her 10 double-doubles last season were the most in a season at Penn since Jennifer Fleischer in 2004-05, and she became just the 10th player in program history with 14 for her career. Her next one will tie her for ninth all-time at Penn with Auretha Fleming (1980-84).

Six School Records
Penn set six school records in its win over Temple:
- First Big 5 championship in program history.
- First 3-0 start in Big 5 play.
- Most Big 5 wins in a season.
- First four-game Big 5 winning streak.
- Head Coach Mike McLaughlin extends school record with seventh career Big 5 win.
- Four straight seasons at .500 or better in non-conference play for the first time.

Other Big 5 Milestones
Additional Big 5 wins over La Salle (57-29) and Saint Joseph’s (65-51) set several other milestones...
...third-largest margin of victory in a Big 5 game and largest since Jan. 17, 1995 vs. Temple.
...fewest points allowed in Big 5—or any game—since Jan. 17, 1995 vs. Temple (65-29).
...marked the first time Penn has won a Big 5 game in three consecutive seasons since 1999-02.
...marked four Big 5 wins in a three-year span for the first time ever (currently at six).
...have won three straight over La Salle for the first time in program history.
...first three-game win streak over any Big 5 opponent since 1980-82 (Temple).
...third straight 1-0 start in Big 5 play (had never done so in two consecutive seasons).
...second win in 40 all-time meetings with Saint Joseph’s (other was in 2004).
...first-ever win over Saint Joseph’s at The Palestra (1-23).
...Two Big 5 wins in back-to-back years for the first time in school history.
...first win over Temple at home since 1999, and first back-to-back wins over the Owls since 1994-95.

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 52-9 (.852) when they score 60 points, including 25-1 over the last two seasons (only loss was to Texas in NCAA Tournament, 79-61). In comparison, the Quakers are just 21-73 (.223) when they’ve scored less than 60 points under Coach McLaughlin. The trend continues defensively. Over the last six seasons, the Red and Blue are 14-50 (.219) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a healthy winning record of 59-32 (.648).

Penn Trends
Penn has won three straight games and is 29-9 (.763) in its last 38 games ... Penn has won 12 of the last 13 at The Palestra ... The Quakers have won 18 of the last 19 and are 36-2 (.947) over the last three seasons when shooting better than 40 percent ... The Red and Blue have won 16 of the last 17 games when their free throw percentage is better than 70 percent ... Penn has won 33 of the last 35 games when outrebounding its opponent ... Penn is 20-1 under Coach McLaughlin when scoring more than 70 points and undefeated in regulation as the only loss came in double overtime, 88-84, at Harvard in 2011.

Streaking Quakers
Senior Kara Bonenberger has started 74 straight games and Kathleen Roche has started 43 in a row ... Senior Renee Busch has multiple threes in three straight games ... Freshman Anna Ross has four or more assists in six straight games and a steal in four straight games ... Freshman Michelle Nwokedi has five or more rebounds in four straight games and has played no more than 13 minutes in each ... Nwokedi also has a block in six straight games ... Junior Brooklyn Juday and sophomore Sade Gibbons each have a rebound in every game they’ve played ... Freshman Beth Brzozowski has an assist in all but one game ... Sophomore Sydney Stipanovich has scored in double figures and had at least nine rebounds in three straight games and four of the last five.

A Penn Win Would...
... be the first-ever over a ranked opponent.
... mark the first back-to-back wins over Princeton since 2005.
... mark the first back-to-back wins at Jadwin Gym since 2004-05.
... be the seventh in the last eight Ivy road games.
... mark the 13th win in the last 14 Ivy League games.
... be the fourth straight overall and make the Quakers 8-4 this season.

A Penn Loss Would...
... make the Quakers 7-5 this season and 0-1 to start Ivy play for the 10th straight season.
... be less good than a win.

Last Time Out: W, 52-50 vs. Temple
Big 5 CHAMPIONS! In the 36-year history of the Big 5, Penn had never won the city conference championship. Until Monday night. In a thrilling finish at The Palestra, senior captain Renee Busch hit a game-winning three with 25.1 seconds remaining as the Quakers defeated Temple, 52-50, to earn the program’s first-ever Big 5 title. Sydney Stipanovich finished just shy of a triple-double with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks. Kara Bonenberger was just shy of a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds. Kathleen Roche had her best game on one of the program’s biggest nights. She finished with a career-high and game-high 22 points, which included 4-of-7 (.571) shooting beyond the arc, four rebounds and two assists.

Up Next
Non-conference play concludes with a trio of games, including one final Big 5 contest. First, the Quakers host Richmond on Wednesday at 7 p.m. A week later, Villanova visits The Palestra for a 5:30 p.m. start—the first game of a doubleheader with the men, who tip off against Monmouth at 8 p.m. Penn then wraps up its non-league schedule with a road contest at NJIT on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m.

#FightOnPenn

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