Women's Basketball Caps Big 5 Season Wednesday

Follow @pennwbb

PHILADELPHIA - Penn (8-5, 3-0 Big 5) has already clinched a share of its first-ever Big 5 title, but can win the city championship outright with a win over Villanova (10-8, 2-1 Big 5) on Wednesday at The Palestra. The final Big 5 matchup of the season is the first game of a doubleheader with the men. The women tip off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men, who tip off against Monmouth at 8 p.m.

In the Series vs. Villanova: 42nd Meeting
In 41 all-time meetings between these programs, the Quakers have won just twice. After the teams split the first two meetings, the Wildcats won 26 straight from 1976-2000. In 2001, Penn topped Villanova on the road with a 69-62 overtime victory. Villanova has won the last 12 meetings, but the last four at The Palestra have come by margins of just 7, 2, 5 and 4. Penn’s only win over the Wildcats at The Palestra was on Feb. 7, 1975. Villanova also remains the last Big 5 team that Coach McLaughlin has yet to beat.

Catching the Game
Fans can watch the Big 5 matchup on the Ivy League Digital Network (ILDN.tv).Live statscan be found on at PennAthletics.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.

National TV
Penn's season finale against arch rival Princeton will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. In last year's season finale, the Quakers beat the Tigers in a de facto Ivy League championship game. Tip off is a 5 p.m., and will be followed by the men's Penn-Princeton game which is also going to be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

Improbable Feat
Penn clinched a share of its first Big 5 championship on Jan. 5. 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.

A motto the team has adopted as the defending Ivy League champions that pride themselves on defense. It showed in Penn’s Big 5 opener against La Salle. Shortly after raising the Ivy League championship banner in the home opener against the Explorers, the Quakers held La Salle to 29 total points—the fewest Penn has allowed in a game since a 65-29 win over Temple on Jan. 17, 1995. The Quakers also held La Salle without a three-pointer—the third time the Quakers have shut out an opponent behind the arc under Coach McLaughlin and the first since a win over Cornell on Feb. 22, 2013. On the contrary, Penn has made a three in every game since a home loss to Harvard on Feb. 6, 2010—a span of 127 games.

Six School Records
Penn set six school records in its most recent Big 5 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.

Streaking Quakers
Senior Kara Bonenberger has started 76 straight games and Kathleen Roche has started 45 in a row ... Senior Renee Busch has made a three in seven straight games and multiple threes in four of the last five games ... Freshman Anna Ross has four or more assists in seven of the last eight games and a steal in six straight games ... Freshman Michelle Nwokedi has four or more rebounds in six straight games and has played no more than 13 minutes in each ... Junior Brooklyn Juday and sophomore Sade Gibbons each have a rebound in every game they’ve played.

Nearing 1,000
You can start counting down. Senior captain Kara Bonenberger is just 54 points shy of becoming the 20th player in Penn history with 1,000 career points. The last Quaker to reach that milestone was Bonenberger's former teammate and captain, Alyssa Baron, who did so on Nov. 30, 2012 and finished second all-time at Penn with 1,806 points.

Penn Trends
Penn is 30-10 (.750) in its last 40 games ... Penn has won 14 of the last 15 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 17 of the last 18 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.

Sophomore 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 three other double-doubles this season and has 15 for her career—tied for ninth-most all-time at Penn with Auretha Fleming (1980-84). Her 10 double-doubles last season were the most in a season at Penn since Jennifer Fleischer in 2004-05.

A Penn Win Would...
... clinch the first outright Big 5 title in school history.
... mark the first-ever 4-0 Big 5 season in school history.
... be the first over Villanova at The Palestra since 1975.
... snap a 12-game losing streak to Villanova dating back to 2001.
... extend the home winning streak to six games.
... extend school record Big 5 win streak to five games.
... mark the 15th in the last 16 games at The Palestra.
... tie for the second-most non-conference wins in school history (9).
... be the fifth in the last six games and make the Quakers 9-5 this season.

A Penn Loss Would...
... mean the Quakers would share the Big 5 title.
... snap a four-game non-conference win streak.
... make the Quakers 8-6 on the year and 3-1 in the Big 5.
... be less good than a win.

Last Time Out: W, 49-47 vs. Richmond
Trailing by one with under 20 seconds to play, Anna Ross created some open space behind the arc. The freshman didn’t hesitate when the ball came her way. She launched and swished home a three that Penn a 49-47 win in a wild finish with Richmond on Wednesday night at The Palestra. There were five lead changes in the final 3:41, including three straight possessions in the final 2:30. Richmond had the ball last and missed three straight shots before the buzzer sounded. The seesaw finish began when sophomore Sydney Stipanovich scored four straight points with a jumper and two free throws to eliminate a three-point deficit and put Penn up 44-43 with 3:41 left. A minute later, Richmond went back on top, 45-44. On Penn’s ensuing possession, Stipanovich, who finished with her fifth double-double of the season, hit another jumper to give the Quakers a 46-45 edge with 2:03 to go. Richmond responded right back with a mid-range jumper to take the lead again, 47-46, with 1:38 left. Penn turned it over, but then came up with a defensive stop and regained possession with just under a minute to play. With the shot clock winding down, Stipanovich passed to Ross, who found just enough open space on the wing. She immediately fired the three, which hit the bottom of the net with 24.3 seconds to play. Richmond had three shots to tie the game on its final possession, but each bounced off the rim.

Up Next
Penn wraps up its non-league schedule with a road contest at NJIT on Saturday at 2 p.m.


Download: 14 - Villanova.pdf