PHILADELPHIA - Once again, the Quakers open the season with a Top-15 opponent. Last season, Penn made its first trip to No. 4/4 Tennessee for its first game. This time, Penn hosts No. 14/12 Duke to open the season as the Blue Devils make their first-ever visit to The Cathedral of College Basketball. The game will be preceeded by the men’s season opener against Robert Morris at 5:30 p.m. The women’s matchup will tip at 8 p.m., and both games can be seen on ESPN3.com and the Ivy League Digital Network.
Catching the Game
A ticket to the men's game will get you into the women's game for free. For those who can't make it to The Palestra, you can watch the game on ESPN3.com or the Ivy League Digital Network (ILDN.tv). Live stats can be found at PennAthletics.com, while live twitter updates will also be available (@PennWBB). A complete recap, box score and highlights can be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.
In the Series vs. Duke: 2nd Meeting
For the first time, the Blue Devils are making the trip up to Philadelphia to play in the Cathedral of College Basketball. This will be the second-ever meeting between the two teams. The Quakers traveled to North Carolina in 1984, and lost, 74-47.
Under Mike McLaughlin, Penn is 2-4 in season openers and has lost its last three. The Quakers fell at No. 4/4 Tennessee last year, 97-52, dropped a five-point decision to St. Francis Brooklyn, 56-51, at The Palestra to start off 2013-14 and lost the 2012-13 opener at Norfolk State, 60-51. Penn’s last season-opening victory came in overtime, 70-61, over St. Francis Brooklyn on Nov. 13, 2011.
Against the Top 25
Penn is looking for its first-ever win over a ranked opponent. The Quakers played three games against ranked opponents last season. In addition to the season opener in Tennessee, the Red and Blue played two games against Princeton. Prior to that, the last two times the Quakers have faced a Top 25 team, it had been against Notre Dame, including a 76-54 loss at The Palestra during the 2013-14 Ivy League championship season. The Fighting Irish were No. 5 at the time. The fourth-ranked Lady Vols were the second-highest ranked opponent the Red and Blue had ever faced as Notre Dame was No. 3 when the Quakers fell 69-38 at the Joyce Center on Dec. 2, 2011.
Power Six History
Penn has traditionally played a challenging non-conference schedule since Mike McLaughlin took the helm in 2009-10. In fact, this will be the third non-conference top 15 team the Quakers have played in the last five seasons (#3 Notre Dame in 2011-12, #5 Notre Dame in 2013-14, and #4 Tennessee last season). Among the non-league foes, Penn has scheduled its share of teams from the power six conferences. En route to the Ivy title in 2013-14, the Quakers earned their first-ever win over an ACC opponent with a dramatic 67-66 win at Miami (Fla)—Katy Allen scored the winning basket with 5.6 seconds remaining. Other power conference opponents in McLaughlin’s tenure include Northwestern, Iowa State, Virginia (twice, including a three-point loss at The Palestra in 2012-13 and nine-point loss in Charlottesville in 2010-11), as well as the annual Big 5 matchup with Villanova.
Series With Duke
Penn will continue its trend of playing top competition next year as the Quakers head to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the 2016-17 season. Game date is yet to be determined.
A Look at Penn’s Recent Postseason Experience
Prior to this school-record stretch of three straight postseason appearances, Penn had never been to the postseason in back-to-back years. In 2013, Penn posted the first two postseason wins in program history with home wins over Howard (65-60) and Fairfield (49-48) in the opening two rounds of the Women’s Basketball Invitational. Penn then lost in the semifinals at Detroit, 71-68. The following season, the Red and Blue led fifth-seeded Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by as many as 15 in the first half (32-17), and seven at halftime (38-31), but ultimately fell, 79-61. Last year, Penn earned its first-ever WNIT berth and victory with a home win over Hofstra before a close second-round loss at The Palestra to Big 5 rival Temple.
Defending Big 5 Champions
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.
Magic Number: 60
The statistic that may most indicate a Penn win or loss? 60 points. Penn has won 33 straight regular season games when scoring more than 60 points. Since head coach Mike McLaughlin took over at Penn, the Quakers are 60-9 (.870) when they reach that number (33-1 over the last two seasons with only loss to Texas in NCAA Tournament, 79-61). In comparison, the Quakers are just 27-78 (.257) 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 17-54 (.239) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a healthy winning record of 70-33 (.680).
A Penn Win Would...
... be the first-ever over a top 25 opponent and the first-ever over Duke.
... mark the 12th in the last 14 games dating back to last season.
... be the 495th career victory for Coach McLaughlin.
... make the Quakers 1-0 for the first time since 2011-12.
A Penn Loss Would...
... be the third in the last four games dating back to last season.
... make the Quakers 0-1 for the fourth straight year.
... be less good than a win.
Last Time Out: L, 61-56 vs. Temple
- Follwing the program’s first-ever WNIT win over Hofstra in the first round of the tournament, Penn fell to Big 5 rival Temple, 61-56, ending its season and tournament run. The Quakers played without senior Kara Bonenberger, who missed the first game of her career after suffering a season-ending injury early in the first round win over Hofstra. Freshman Michelle Nwokedi tried to make up for her absencem finishing with her eighth double-double of the season. There were seven ties and nine lead changes in the game, and most came in the second half. It was a four-point deficit, 53-49 with 1:45 left when senior Katy Allen drove the lane, scored, was fouled and converted the three-point play to make it a one-point game, 53-52, with 1:16 to go. Temple hit two free throws, forced a miss, and hit two more free throws to go up 57-52 with 27 seconds left. Penn never had the ball with a chance to tie again.
- The Red and Blue will have eight returning letterwinners and three returning starters from a team that claimed the program’s first-ever Big 5 title last year, and reached the postseason for the third straight season (school record). The Quakers were 21-9 last year, including 11-3 in Ivy play, and reached the second round of the WNIT.
The Quakers start the season off-and-running, with three games on tap in five days to open the year. Following tonight’s game, Penn will travel to Baltimore on Sunday to take on UMBC before hosting Lafayette on Tuesday.
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