PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team seeks its fifth-straight win on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Navy. The Quakers, who are 2-1 inside the friendly confines of The Palestra, begin a four-game stretch in which they will not leave the city of Philadelphia. A “road game” against St. Joseph’s, along with a pair of home contests await the Red and Blue prior to their trip to Hawaii over New Year’s.
vs. Navy: Ninth Meeting
For the second-straight year, and the ninth time overall, Penn and Navy will face off. Last time out, the Quakers went down to Annapolis and handed the Mids a 60-51 loss just before Thanksgiving. The teams have exchanged wins the last four meetings, dating back to 2008.
Quick Snapshot - Navy
Navy enters Saturday with a 4-3 record after falling to LIU Brooklyn in overtime on Wednesday. Colorado State is the only common opponent between the Quakers and Midshipmen, with the Rams defeating Navy in double overtime (82-73) on Nov. 28.
Catching the Game
Fans can watch Saturday’s game on the Ivy League Digital Network (ILDN.tv) and ESPN3. Live twitter updates will also be available via @PennWBB. A complete recap, box score and highlights can be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.
A Penn Win Would...
... be the second straight over Navy.
... mark a five-game winning streak.
... make the Quakers 5-1 on the year.
... be the 499th in Coach McLaughlin’s career.
Last Time Out
The Quakers rallied from a 12-point third-quarter deficit to defeat previously undefeated Colorado State, 49-48, at The Palestra last Tuesday. Sophomore Michelle Nwokedi and junior Sydney Stipanovich led the way in the victory. Nwokedi poured in a career-best 25 points, while Stipanovich picked up her first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 boards. Stipanovich also swatted away four shots, and is now Penn’s all-time blocks leader with 195 in her career. Nwokedi was clutch in the second half, scoring 10 of the Quakers’ final 12 points of the game.
Penn has one last matchup before winter break, taking on its first Big 5 opponent of the year, Saint Joseph’s, who the Quakers beat for only the second time ever last year, 65-51.
Junior (yes, junior!) Sydney Stipanovich became Penn’s all-time leader in blocks last Tuesday night against Colorado State. Stipanovich swatted away four shots against the Rams, and now has 195 blocks in her career. Katarina Poulsen, who played for the Quakers from 1991-94, held on to the record for the last 21 years. Stipanovich also owns Penn’s all-time single-season record for blocks with 97 during her freshman season. She now stands 110 blocks shy of the Ivy League record for blocks set by Columbia’s Kathy Gilbert.
Sophomore Michelle Nwokedi was named Ivy League Player of the Week on Monday, after scoring a career-high 25 points gainst Colorado State. It is the first weekly honor for the Quakers this season, and Nwokedi’s first-ever Player of the Week recognition. She was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week six times last season en route to winning the conference’s Rookie of the Year award.
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 lead the Ivy League in scoring defense, holding opponents to under 50 points (49.6) per game this season. They also pace the Ancient Eight in blocks per game (5.2) and turnover margin (+3.6). 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).
Head Coach Mike McLaughlin is just two wins shy of notching 500 triumphs in his career. Following a storied career at Holy Family in which he racked up 407 wins, McLaughlin is 91-88 in six-plus seasons at Penn. In addition to the quantity of wins, McLaughlin has also kept the losses to a minimum, as he currently holds the fourth-highest winning percentage (.770) of all active head coaches. With two more wins, McLaughlin will become just the 30th active head coach in all of Division I with 500 career victories.
Penn’s starting five has accounted for over 90 percent of the Quakers’ offensive production over the last three games -- all victories for the Red and Blue . In fact, Penn’s bench has reached double digits in points on only one occasion this season -- 28 points against UMBC on November 15. The Quakers’ probable starting five of Whitlatch, Nwokedi, Stipanovich, Chambers, and Ross have logged 774 of 1,000 total minutes this season.