PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team visits Villanova on Tuesday night, with an opportunity to clinch its second-consecutive Philadelphia Big 5 title. The Quakers are currently riding a seven-game winning streak, and are one win shy of at least sharing the City title. Penn is currently 2-1 in the Big 5, with wins over La Salle and Temple.
Catching the Game
Fans can watch the game online at Villanova.com ($). 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. Villanova, 43rd Meeting, dating back to 1974 (Wildcats lead, 40-2)
The Quakers have lost 13 consecutive games to the Wildcats, and will be looking for their first victory in the series since 2001 (69-62, OT). Penn lost 55-54 during their last trip to the Pavillion in 2014. Caroline Hoyer led the way for the Wildcats, scoring a game-high 17 points. Penn’s other victory over Villanova came in 1975.
Villanova - Quick Snapshot
The Wildcats enter the weekend as winners of four of their last five games. Prior to falling to Georgetown last Saturday, Villanova had tallied consecutive wins over Marquette, DePaul, Seton Hall, and St. John’s. The Wildcats are led by reigning Big 5 Player of the Year, Caroline Coyer, who is leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.8). Villanova holds an overall record of 12-7, including a 5-2 mark at home.
A Penn Win Would...
- give the Quakers at least a share of their second-consecutive Big 5 title
- make the Quakers 13-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big 5
- extend a season-long winning streak to eight games
- be the 100th at Penn for Coach McLaughlin
- be the 12th non-conference victory of the season (program record)
- be the third win over Villanova in the 42-year history of the series
Last Time Out
The Quakers tallied a pair of Big 5 wins last weekend over La Salle and Temple. Most recently, Penn defeated the Owls, 60-54, at McGonigle Hall last Thursday. It was just the fifth win at Temple in the 45-year history of the series. Michelle Nwokedi recorded her seventh double-double of the season, going for 22 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.
Penn outrebounded Temple, 59-35, and held the Owls to less than 34 percent shooting from the field. Temple made just two of 22 shots from beyond the arc.
The Quakers will experience their first Ivy League weekend of the season, as Yale and Brown visit The Palestra. The Bulldogs will kick things off on Friday night, with a 7 p.m. tip.
Head Coach Mike McLaughlin is one win shy of recording 100 victories here at Penn. Earlier this season, McLaughlin notched his 500th career triumph, and currently stands with a 99-89 record with the Quakers. McLaughlin will become the second Penn coach to record at least 100 victories in a career. Former coach Lois Ashley has the most wins in Red and Blue history with 128 (12 seasons).
With their win over Temple last Thursday, the Quakers broke a program record with 11 non-conference wins this season. In fact, Penn’s 12-2 start is the best in program history. Penn previously had 10 non-conference wins during each of the last two seasons.
Michelle Nwokedi (3.1) and Sydney Stipanovich (3.0) currently rank 1-2 in the Ivy League in blocks per game, and are the main reason that the Quakers LEAD the country in blocks per contest (7.1). Penn racked up the most blocks in a game in school history against La Salle (16). Stipanovich and Nwokedi have combined for more swatted shots (85) than every TEAM in the Ivy League.
More Hardware for Stip
Sydney Stipanovich earned her second Big 5 Player of the Week award on Monday. She began the two-game stretch with a monster 21-point, 14-rebound, six-block performance against La Salle on Tuesday. It was her fifth double-double this season, and 21st of her career. She followed that up with another superb rebounding effort against Temple, hauling in 16 more boards (season high). She also scored nine points, and swatted away three shots. In all, Stipanovich averaged 15.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, and 4.5 boards per game, as Penn improved to 2-1 in the Big 5.
Stipanovich now sits eighth in the Penn record books with 21 career double-doubles. The Quakers are 20-1 all-time in those games, and 5-0 this season. In addition, she currently ranks second in the Ivy League in both rebounds (9.2) and blocks (3.0) per game.
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 10th in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 51.6 points per game this season. They also LEAD the NCAA in blocks per game at 7.1. 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).
Michelle Nwokedi has a team-high seven double-doubles this season, and currently stands as the only player in the Ivy League that is averaging one. She leads the league, and is ranked 16th in the nation in rebounding (11.1) -- while also averaging 15.2 points per contest. She is also first in the Ancient Eight in blocks per game, swatting away 3.1 shots per contest. The Quakers are 7-0 in games in which Nwokedi has recorded a double-double.
Win over Princeton
The Quakers defeated Princeton on January 9, marking the first triumph at home over the Tigers since 2008. Penn now owns 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 signified the first time since 2004 that the Quakers opened Ivy play with a victory over the Tigers.
(More) Milestone McLaughlin
Head Coach Mike McLaughlin now has 506 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 99-89 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.
Despite not appearing in the first 10 games of the season (injury), freshman Ashley Russell has provided a spark for the Quakers over the last five. Coming off the bench, Russell has scored in all but one of the games in which she has checked into.
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 228 blocks in her career. Stipanovich also owns Penn’s all-time single-season record for blocks with 97 during her freshman season. Stipanovich currently stands 77 blocks shy of the Ivy League record, set by Columbia’s Kathy Gilbert. With two more swatted shots, she will move into second in conference history
Sophomore Michelle Nwokedi was named Ivy League Player of the Week on November 30, after scoring a career-high 25 points gainst Colorado State. It was 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.
Quaker Quick Hits
*Sydney Stipanovich and Michelle Nwokedi have combined for 12 double-doubles this season, but incidentally have never each had one in the same game.
*The win over Temple was Penn’s third triumph over the Owls in their last four meetings.
*Kasey Chambers erupted for a career-high 18 points against La Salle last Monday, making five-of-seven from the floor and seven-of-eight from the free-throw line. Chambers also tallied eight rebounds and six assists.
*The Quakers made 12-of-20 shots in the second quarter against La Salle, recording a season-high 27 points in the frame. Penn upped that season best by racking up 30 more points in the fourth quarter.
*The Quakers shot over 80 percent (18-of-21) from the free-throw line against La Salle. It is first time Penn eclipsed 80 percent (with at least 18 makes) since February 13 of last year (18-of-21, vs. Brown).
*The win over La Salle was the fourth-straight for the Quakers over the Explorers.
*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.
*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 has now reached double digits five times this season.
*The Quakers hold a 21-1 record over the last three seasons when Sydney Stipanovich has grabbed 10+ rebounds.
*Penn scored a season-high 50 points in the first half against Wagner on December 21.
*Penn’s point total (46), second-half point total (20), and points off the bench (2) were all season lows against Saint Joseph’s on December 8.
*Sophomores and juniors have accounted for over 93 percent of the offense for the Red and Blue this season.
*Penn has won 41 consecutive regular-season games when putting at least 60 points on the scoreboard.
Defending Big 5 Champions
Penn clinched a share of its first Big 5 championship on Jan. 5, 2015. 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 nine Big 5 games in the last six years, including a 6-4 (.625) 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 nine career Big 5 victories—surpassing Julie Soriero, who won five in eight seasons.