PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team will put its five-game winning streak on the line against La Salle on Monday night at 7 p.m. It is the second Big-5 matchup of the season for the reigning city champions, as the Quakers were defeated at Saint Joseph’s (50-46) on December 8.
Catching the Game
Fans can watch the game live on GoExplorers.TV, or listen to the audio stream on the La Salle Athletics’ website. Live Twitter updates will also be available via @PennWBB. A complete recap and box score can be found on www.PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.
vs. La Salle, 43rd Meeting (Explorers lead, 33-9)
The Quakers are seeking their fourth-straight victory over the Explorers on Monday night. This series, which has historically been dominated by La Salle, has taken a significant turn since Coach McLaughlin has taken the reigns at Penn. The Red and Blue have won four of the last five matchups, including a 28-point triumph last year at The Palestra. The Quakers won the first two contests of this long-standing rivalry in 1973 and ‘74, but from 1984 to 1999, the Explorers won 17-straight games over Penn.
La Salle - Quick Snapshot
Barring a victory on Saturday against Rhode Island, La Salle will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak on Monday. Sophomore Amy Griffin has been a large bright spot this season, leading the squad in both points (17.7) and rebounds (6.9) per game. The Explorers’ three wins this season have come against Norfolk State (12/29), Monmouth (12/30) and Howard (12/2).
Last Time Out
The Quakers put together their best defensive effort of the season in a 50-48 win over their arch-rival Princeton last Saturday. Penn held the Tigers to season lows in almost every offensive category, en route to defeating Princeton at home for the first time since 2008. Sydney Stipanovich registered her fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. She also swatted away three shots and dished out three assists.
The Red and Blue were especially stingy in the fourth quarter, yielding just one field goal over the final 4:16 of the contest. The Quakers recorded four-consecutive stops, including two in the final eight seconds, to end the game. Michelle Nwokedi blocked a Princeton shot attempt at the buzzer, as the Tigers attempted to send the game into overtime.
The Quakers have now earned four-consecutive Ivy League Player of the Week awards -- the most recent coming last Monday. Sydney Stipanovich picked up her third recognition of the season after recording her fourth double-double of the season against Princeton. In addition to 12 points and 11 boards, Stip also dished three assists, and notched three blocks. Stipanovich won back-to-back Ivy honors to end the month of December, and now has nine weekly awards in her career.
Penn will continue its Big 5 road trip with a matchup against Temple on Thursday night. Tip between the Quakers and Owls is set for 7 p.m at McGonigle Hall.
Stipanovich now sits seventh in the Penn record books with 20 career double-doubles. The Quakers are 19-1 all-time in those games, and 4-0 this season. In addition, she currently ranks third in the Ivy League in both rebounds (8.8) and blocks (2.8) per game.
The Quakers now own the last two Ivy League losses for Princeton, the first coming in the season finale of the 2013-14 season. Penn’s Ivy title in 2014 snapped a streak of four-straight conference championships for the Tigers. In addition, the win over Princeton marked the first time since 2004 that the Quakers opened Ivy play with a victory over the Tigers.
The Quakers are off to their best start in program history, and are one non-conference win shy of tying a program record. Penn still has three games against the Big 5 remaining (La Salle, Temple, Villanova) -- all on the road -- and all within eight days of each other. The Quakers fell to Saint Joseph’s, 50-46, to open Big 5 play on December 8.
Nwokedi has a team-high six double-doubles this season, and currently stands as the only player in the Ivy League that is averaging a double-double. She leads the league in rebounding (10.8), and is slotted fourth in the conference in scoring (15.3 ppg). She also ranks second in the Ancient Eight in blocks per game, swatting away 2.8 shots per contest. The Quakers are 6-0 in games that Nwokedi has recorded a double-double. The sophomore averaged 19.5 points, 16.0 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 3.0 assists, and 2.0 steals during the Quakers’ trip to Hawaii over New Year’s.
Head Coach Mike McLaughlin now has 504 victories in his career, sitting as one of just 30 active DI head coaches with at least 500 career triumphs. Following a storied career at nearby Holy Family in which he racked up 407 wins (fastest coach to ever reach 400), McLaughlin is 97-89 in six-plus seasons at Penn. In addition to the quantity of victories, McLaughlin has also kept the losses to a minimum, as he currently holds the fourth-highest winning percentage (.771) of all active Division I head coaches.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Defense, which has been a staple of Mike McLaughlin teams over the years, is once again a strength for the Quakers this season. The Red and Blue currently rank fourth in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 50.1 points per game this season. They also rank seventh in the NCAA in blocks per game at 6.3. Last season, Penn ranked No. 3 in the nation with 6.6 blocks per game, seventh in the NCAA in field-goal percentage defense (.348), ninth in the country in scoring defense (53.5 ppg) and 31st in three-point defense (.281).
Despite not appearing in the first nine games of the season, freshman Ashley Russell has provided a spark for the Quakers over the last three. Coming off the bench, Russell has made a three-pointer in two of the three games she has checked into, including a pair against Princeton on Saturday.
Brzozowski off the Bench
Although the Quaker bench has been relatively quiet this season, Beth Brzozowski has provided a much-needed lift of late. In fact, the sophomore guard put in a career-best 15 points in the victory over Hawaii. Brzozowski was especially lethal from the free-throw line, making all six of her attempts. She has reached double digits in three of her last five games.
Like classmates Nwokedi and Brzozowski, sophomore Anna Ross also put together a productive trip to Hawaii. The shifty guard averaged 13.5 points, 3.5 steals, and 3.0 assists over the two contests, and has now put in double-digit points in three of her last five efforts.
Michelle Nwokedi (2.8) and Sydney Stipanovich (2.8) are tied for second in the Ivy League in blocks per game, and are the main reason that the Quakers lead the conference in blocks. The duo has combined for more blocks (66) than six TEAMS (all except Brown) in the Ivy League.
Junior (yes, junior!) Sydney Stipanovich became Penn’s all-time leader in blocks on November 24th against Colorado State. Stipanovich swatted away four shots against the Rams, and now has 221 blocks in her career. Stipanovich also owns Penn’s all-time single-season record for blocks with 97 during her freshman season. She currently stands 89 blocks shy of the Ivy League record, set by Columbia’s Kathy Gilbert.
Quaker Quick Hits
*Penn defeated Princeton despite getting getting season lows in both rebounds (7) and points (7) from Michelle Nwokedi, who entered the game as the team’s leader in both categories.
*The Quakers recorded a lower field-goal and free-throw percentage than Princeton in their win last Saturday.
*Ashley Russell’s pair of three-pointers against the Tigers were the freshman’s first career points in The Palestra.
*Sophomore Lauren Whitlatch scored 17 points against Wagner, her highest output since pouring in 18 on opening night against Duke. She now has scored double digits in two of her last three games.
*The Quakers hold a 19-1 record over the last three seasons when Sydney Stipanovich has grabbed 10+ rebounds.
*Sophomores and juniors have accounted for over 93 percent of the offense for the Red and Blue this season.
*Penn has won 39 consecutive regular-season games when putting at least 60 points on the scoreboard.
Download: La Salle.pdf