Women's Basketball Set for First Big 5 Game

Game Notes

PHILADELPHIA - It will be another short road trip for the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team as they head across Philadelphia to take on Big 5 rival Villanova. Tip off is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at The Pavilion. It will be the Big 5 opener for both teams as well as the first Big 5 women's game in the city this year.

Catching the Game
A live webcast of the game will be provided by Villanova at Villanova.com, as well as live stats. A full recap and box score can be found on PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.

In the Series
Villanova has dominated this series, winning 34 of the 36 games between these Big 5 rivals. After the teams split the first two meetings, the Wildcats won 26 straight from 1976-2000. In 2001, Penn upset Villanova on the road with a 69-62 overtime victory. That remains Penn’s only win against the Wildcats away from The Palestra. Villanova has won the last seven meetings, taking the last two at The Palestra by a combined nine points, but winning the last two at The Pavilion by a combined 74 points.

Last Time Out
In the Division I head coaching debut for Mike McLaughlin, Penn fell to their city six rival, Drexel, 56-42 Sunday afternoon at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. Sarah Bucar had the team’s first basket of the season to tie the game at 2-2 a minute and a half into the game, but Penn managed just two baskets from Jerin Smith over the next nine minutes and was down 15-6 near the midway point of the first half. After Smith hit another jumper, Kim Adams scored on back-to-back possessions to close the deficit to 15-12 with 6:51 to go. Drexel once again tried to stretch the lead with two straight threes to regain the nine-point edge, 23-14 with 4:55 to go in the half. A free throw by sophomore Jess Knapp, a three-pointer by Bucar and a layup by Adams got the Quakers to within 25-20 in the final minute before going to the locker room down 27-20. Similar to the problems of the 2008-09 team, the Quakers went through a long scoring drought and unfortunately found themselves facing a 17-point deficit six minutes into the second half. Penn managed just five free throws before Smith scored the team’s first field goal of the half with 12:19 to go in the game. But with Smith’s basket, Penn found new life as an aggressive defensive effort forced Drexel into several turnovers and a timeout as Penn was within 41-29 with 11:13 left. However, with momentum clearly shifting toward the Quakers, Taylor Wootton knocked down a jumper to steal it away. Drexel then extended the lead to its biggest of the day, 48-29 with just over seven minutes remaining.

Penn and ‘Nova Again
For those following Penn Athletics, this game may seem a bit familiar. The Quakers and Wildcats just played each other at the Pavilion on Monday...but in men’s basketball. Villanova beat the men’s team in what was the 2009-10 Philadelphia Big 5 opener. Now, the two schools match up again as the teams have the honor of opening the women’s Big 5 schedule. This marks the first time since the 2005-06 season in which Penn has been a part of the opening game for both of the city’s Big 5 schedules.

About the Wildcats
Villanova has also played just one game this season, winning on the road against Sacred Heart Monday night as the Wildcats escaped with a 50-49 win. The Wildcats return three starters from a year ago, however, on Monday, they were led by Laura Sweeney’s 11 points off the bench. As a team, 21 of Villanova’s 50 points came from their bench. Sweeney and starter Tia Grant were the only Wildcats in double figures, but Amanda Swiezynski had seven assists and three steals. Maria Getty, who had a game-high 14 points against the Quakers last season, had nine points, two assists and two rebounds in her 2009-10 debut. Villanova was outrebounded 32-25 and the usually defensive-minded Wildcats allowed the Pioneers to shoot at a 44-percent clip for the game (55 percent in the first half).

Big 5 Troubles
It’s a clean slate for head coach Mike McLaughlin as he enters his first career Big 5 game, but the Penn program has struggled as of late. The Quakers have lost the last 18 games against Big 5 opposition, dating back to 2004 when the Red and Blue won their first two Big 5 games against Saint Joseph’s and La Salle. Penn’s seven-game losing streak to the Wildcats is its longest active streak to a Big 5 opponent.

A Penn Win Would...
... make the Quakers 1-1 and be the team’s first Big 5 win since 2004-05.
... be the first over Villanova since 2001.
... break a five-game losing streak against non-conference opponents.

A Penn Loss Would...
... make the Quakers 0-2 for the second straight season.
... be the eighth straight to Villanova.
... be less good than a win.

Up Next
It’s the home opener for the Quakers as they host Duquesne Saturday at 3:30 p.m. After that, it’s off to Chicago for a tournament at Northwestern. Penn plays the Big 12’s Iowa State Cyclones on Nov. 27 and then the host Wildcats on Nov. 28.

Download: 11-18-09 Villanova.pdf