HONOLULU, Hawaii - The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team wraps up its trip to the “Aloha State” with a matchup against the University of Hawaii on Saturday night/Sunday morning (1 a.m. EST). The Quakers are looking for their fourth-consecutive win after notching a 73-41 win over BYU-Hawaii on Thursday afternoon.
Catching the Game
Fans can watch the game against Hawaii on BigWest.tv (http://www.bigwest.org/story.asp?story_id=16359). 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. Hawaii, 2nd Meeting (Rainbow Wahine lead, 1-0)
Hawaii and Penn’s lone matchup was on January 4, 1985, as part of the “Rainbow Converse Classic” in Honolulu. The Rainbow Wahine defeated the Quakers by a score of 77-63. The Quakers also played Hawaii-Pacific and Big 5-rival Temple during that trip.
Hawaii - Quick Snapshot
The Rainbow Wahine enter Saturday’s contest with a record of 7-5, and winners of their last three. Most notably, Hawaii was a 68-57 victor over BYU-Hawaii (Penn’s last opponent) in an exhibition game on December 10. The Rainbow Wahine feature an extremely balanced attack, as six players are currently averaging at least seven points per game. Destiny King is the squad’s leading scorer, putting in 9.8 points per contest. Last season, Hawaii earned their third-consecutive berth into the WNIT following a 23-9 season (14-2 in the Big West).
Last Time Out
The Quakers put together a dominant performance in a 73-41 win over BYU-Hawaii on Thursday night. Penn registered the highest assists’ (23), steals’ (18) and rebounding (59) totals in the Coach McLaughlin era. Sophomore Michelle Nwokedi stole the show, pouring in 19 points and grabbing a career-best 17 rebounds. Sydney Stipanovich (14) and Anna Ross (12) were also in double digits, as the Red and Blue compiled 11 different scorers. Defensively, the Quakers allowed the Seasiders to shoot 25.4 percent (15-of-59) from the field -- making just two of their first 22 shots.
Head Coach Mike McLaughlin now has 502 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 95-89 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 (.770) of all active Division I head coaches.
Back-to-Back for Stip
Sydney Stipanovich has won two-consecutive Ivy League Co-Player of the Week awards, giving her eight weekly honors for her career. This past week, she also added Big 5 Player of the Week to her accolades’ list. Stipanovich averaged 22.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 2.0 assists during that span, shooting 67 percent (18-of-27) from the floor.
Overall, Stipanovich now has three double-doubles this season and has grabbed at least nine rebounds in a game on six occasions. In addition, she currently ranks fourth in the Ivy League in rebounds per game (8.6), third in blocks per contest (2.3) and ninth in points per game (14.1).
Not to be outdone, Michelle Nwokedi has also been superb over the last three contests. The sophomore registered her fifth double-double of the season against BYU-Hawaii, tallying 19 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. During this current three-game winning streak, Nwokedi is averaging 16.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 3.0 blocks.
*Nwokedi is currently the only player in the Ivy League that is averaging a double-double, as she is slotted fourth in the conference in scoring (15.7) and tops in the Ivy in rebounding (10.8).
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 211 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 103 blocks shy of the Ivy League record, set by Columbia’s Kathy Gilbert.
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 and rank 11th in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 49.9 points per game this season. They also pace the Ancient Eight in blocks per game at 6.1. 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).
Sydney Stipanovich also sits in the Penn record books in the double-doubles’ category. With her 16-point, 15-rebound effort against Navy, she moved into a tie for 9th all-time with 18 career double-doubles. She now has 19 in her career -- 10 as a freshman, six as a sophomore, and three in the early going this season.
Bench Coming Alive
Although Penn’s starting five has accounted for 82 percent of the Quakers’ offensive production this season, Penn’s bench has produced double-digit points over the last three games. In fact, the Quakers had a season-high 11 players tally at least one point in the win over BYU-Hawaii. Prior to registering zero points versus the Seasiders, sophomore Beth Brzozowski had provided the spark off the pine, averaging 10.5 points in the wins over Drexel and Wagner.
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
*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.
*Since going off for a career-high 25 points against New Hampshire, Anna Ross has reached double figures just twice in her last six games.
*The Quakers hold a 18-1 record over the last three seasons when Sydney Stipanovich has grabbed 10+ rebounds.
*Sophomore Beth Brzozowski ranks fifth in the Ivy League in three-point field goal percentage, making the long ball at a clip of 40 percent (13-for-32).
*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 37 consecutive regular-season games when putting at least 60 points on the scoreboard.
The Quakers come back to the friendly confines of The Palestra on January 9 to begin Ivy-League action. Penn will take on rival Princeton, as part of a men’s and women’s doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.