PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team welcomes Drexel and Wagner to The Palestra for its final two home games of 2015. The Quakers will take on their city rival for the 17th-straight season on Saturday, before battling Wagner for the first time in program history on Monday.
vs. Drexel: 26th Meeting
Penn is 11-14 all-time against Drexel, with the neighbors splitting their last four contests. The Quakers and Dragons first met in 1972, and have battled each year since 1999. Coach McLaughlin is 2-0 when hosting the City 6 rival, including a 46-44 win in 2013 (Penn's last triumph in the series). The Quakers are seeking their third-straight home win over Drexel.
vs. Wagner: 1st Meeting
Although the Quakers and Seahawks have never met, Penn holds a 12-7 all-time record against teams from the Northeast Conference. Wagner is led by scoring-machine Jasmine Nwajei, who is pouring in 17.1 points per game and is the only Wagner player averaging double figures. Each one of Wagner’s games this season has been decided by at least 14 points, including its wins over NJIT and Lafayette.
Catching the Games
Fans can watch both games on the Ivy League Digital Network. 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.
Last Time Out
The Quakers dropped their first Big 5 contest of the season last Tuesday against Saint Joseph’s, falling to the Hawks 50-46. The defending Big 5 champs couldn’t capitalize on an impressive performance from sophomore Michelle Nwokedi, who tallied nine points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks. In a loss that snapped a five-game winning streak for Penn, the Quakers scored a season low in points (6 in the fourth quarter) and receieved just two points from their bench -- also a season worst.
Head Coach Mike McLaughlin is just one win shy of notching 500 triumphs in his career. Following a storied career at nearby Holy Family in which he racked up 407 wins (fastest coach to ever reach 400), McLaughlin is 92-89 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. With one more win, McLaughlin will become just the 30th active head coach in all of Division I with 500 career victories.
Following her near triple-double performance against Saint Joseph’s (nine points, 11 rebounds, seven blocked shots), Michelle Nwokedi currently leads the Ivy League in both rebounds (9.4) and blocks per game (2.9). Nwokedi is also slotted fourth in the conference in scoring at 15.3 points per game.
Junior (yes, junior!) Sydney Stipanovich became Penn’s all-time leader in blocks on November 24 against Colorado State. Stipanovich swatted away four shots against the Rams, and now has 203 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 107 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 in scoring defense, holding opponents to under 50 points (48.7) 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 had 10 as a freshman, six as a sophomore, and a pair in the early going this season.
Penn’s starting five has accounted for over 84 percent of the Quakers’ offensive production this season.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 scored a season-low two points off the bench against Saint Joseph’s.
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 is the lone 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.
Quaker Quick Hits
*Sophomore Lauren Whitlatch scored 12 points against Saint Joseph’s, her highest output since pouring in 18 on opening night against Duke.
*Since going off for a career-high 25 points against New Hampshire, Anna Ross hasn’t reached double figures in three consecutive games.
*The Quakers hold a 17-1 record over the last three seasons when Sydney Stipanovich has grabbed 10+ rebounds.
*Sophomore Beth Brzozowski ranks second in the Ivy League in three-point field goal percentage, making the long ball at a clip of 50 percent (10-of-20).
*Penn’s point total (46), second-half point total (20), and points off the bench (2) were all season lows against Saint Joseph’s.
*Sophomores and juniors have accounted for over 96 percent of the offense for the Red and Blue this season.
*Penn has won 34 consecutive regular-season games when putting at least 60 points on the scoreboard.
The Quakers head to Hawaii for a pair of contests over New Year’s. Penn will take on BYU-Hawaii on December 31, followed by a battle with the University of Hawaii on January 3.