Women's Basketball Takes On #3 Notre Dame Friday

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PHILADELPHIA - Off to the best five-game start in program history, the Quakers (4-1) face the daunting task of taking on No. 3 Notre Dame (5-1) in South Bend. The Fighting Irish lost in the National Championship game last season and their only loss this year was to No. 1 Baylor. Penn has never beaten a team ranked in the Top 25 and is 3-32 all-time against Big East opponents.

The Trip! - Stay up-to-date on Penn's Trip
It has been a wild week of travel for the Quakers. They returned home from Niagara early Monday morning and then defeated Lafayette Wednesday night. Just 10 hours later, the team left for South Bend. Follow the team's progress during the trip here.

Catching the Game
Video and live stats will be available at UND.com for each game. A complete recap and box score can then be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of each game.

In the Series vs. Notre Dame
This will be the first trip to South Bend for Penn. These two programs have met just once before in a holiday tournament at The Palestra on Dec. 18, 1981. Current Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator at Penn, Mary DiStanislao, was the head coach at Notre Dame at the time and led the Fighting Irish past the Quakers, 62-47. Penn head coach Mike McLaughlin is 0-2 against the Big East with both losses against Big 5 rival Villanova.

Last Meeting vs. Notre Dame
In the only all-time meeting between the Quakers and the Fighting Irish, Penn played to a 25-25 tie at the half before Notre Dame pulled away for the double-digit win at The Palestra on Dec. 18, 1981. Penn Hall of Famer, Auretha Fleming, was in her sophomore season and led the Quakers with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting and six rebounds. She played every minute and also added a game-high three steals as the Red and Blue forced 20 turnovers. Fleming is 11th all-time in scoring at Penn with 1,093 career points. Her teammate, Beth Stegner, is 17th in program history with 1,013 points. Thirty seasons ago against the Irish, Stegner had six points and a team-best four assists. The team MVP that season, Sharon Gross, had seven points and led Penn with seven rebounds.

About the 2011-12 Fighting Irish
No. 3-ranked Notre Dame is coming off two straight victories down in the Bahamas. In its last game, the Fighting Irish rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit to defeat No. 6 Duke at the buzzer, 56-54. Notre Dame’s only lost of the season came to No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT. The Fighting Irish lead the Big East in steals per game (16.2) and in turnover margin (+12.17). Due to a challenging non-conference slate, they currently rank last in the Big East in rebounding margin (-0.3), defensive rebounds (22.7), 3-pt FG% defense (.367) and blocks (2.7). Skylar Diggins averages 20.8 ppg for the Fighting Irish and also leads the team in assists (30) and steals (19). Two other players are averaging double figures in scoring, Natalie Novosel (17.2) and Kayla McBride (12.7). Devereaux Peters has collected 37 total rebounds, averaging a team-high 6.2 per game.

Notre Dame Connections
Notre Dame has had two head coaches in its Division I history. Prior to Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw, the Fighting Irish were led by Mary DiStanislao, GEd’03, GrEd’05, who is currently the Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator at Penn. DiStanislao, who has held her current position at Penn since 1999, was 115-79 (.593) in seven seasons with Notre Dame from (1980-81 through 1986-87). Notre Dame rose to Division I status prior to the 1980-81 season, and did so under the guidance of a new head coach, as DiStanislao took over the reins in South Bend. DiStanislao would serve as the program’s caretaker through its first-ever conference membership as part of the North Star Conference (1983-87), and won two league titles (1984-85 and 1985-86). She also helped the Fighting Irish to a (then) school-record 23 wins in 1985-86, resulting in the program’s first postseason tournament selection to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), where Notre Dame posted a third-place finish in Amarillo, Texas. After a successful seven-year stint from 1980-87, including two North Star Coach of the Year awards, DiStanislao stepped aside as the Fighting Irish head coach in order to pursue graduate studies. She has earned two degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters and Doctorate of Education in 2003 and 2005, respectively.

Best Start Ever
With the win Wednesday night, the Quakers are off to the best five-game start in program history. Now in its 42nd-year as a varsity program, Penn had never been 4-1.

Penn Trends
Penn has had a freshman in its starting lineup for in 33 straight games ... The Quakers have used the same starting lineup in all five games ... Penn has forced at least 18 turnovers in each game this year ... In all six Ivy wins under Coach McLaughlin, the Quakers have not allowed more than 49 points and have won each by at least 11 points (avg. margin of victory is 15.6 ppg).

Watching the Record Books
Senior Jess Knapp leads the Ivy League in blocks with 10 and has now moved into sole possession of fourth place in the school record book with a total of 88 career blocks. She passed Big 5 Hall of Famer Jewel Clark (2001-04), who had 82 during her time in the Red and Blue. Knapp had 40 blocks in 2009-10 - fifth-most in a single-season in school history. She then had 38 blocks last season (sixth in school history). She needed 22 entering this year to become just the fourth player in the history of the program with 100 career blocks.

Leading the Way
Its a little early to get too caught up in the statistics, but the Quakers are off to a great start. Sophomore Alyssa Baron leads the Ivy League in scoring (21.5 ppg), made threes (nine) and three-point percentage (47.4%). Knapp leads the league in blocks (2.5 bpg) and is second in rebounding (7.5). Freshman Kara Bonenberger leads the league in shooting percentage at 59.1 (13-0f-22).

Bonenberger Named Ivy Rookie of the Week (Video)
Freshman Kara Bonenberger was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week by the league office on Monday. A Walnutport, Pa., native, she averaged 8.0 points and 7.5 rebounds on 7-of-12 (58.3%) shooting as the Quakers split two games last week. She had five points and a career-best seven rebounds in Penn's only defeat of the season, 58-47, on the road against Big 5 rival La Salle Tuesday night then followed that performance with a career high 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds to best her previous carrer high set earlier in the week.

Charge for a Cure!
December: Autism Speaks
The women's basketball team is again dedicating its entire season to the fight against several diseases and the team needs your help. Last season, the team started an initiative which they have coined the "Charge for a Cure" program. The team raised more than $4,000 through the initiative last year. Each month of the season will be devoted to help a specific disease with personal ties to the program - American Cancer Society, Autism Speaks, Luekemia and Lymphoma Society, the ALS Foundation, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. This month, the Quakers will be taking charges for Autism Speaks, but the team is turning to its fans to lend a hand in its efforts. For more information and to donate to "Charge for a Cure," click here.

Join Today!
Last Game: 1
November Total: 13
Season Total: 13

Last Time Out
Lafayette led 4-2 in the first two minutes, but a full-court press flustered the Leopards into several turnovers and the Quakers scored six quick points to take an 8-4 lead. Busch then hit her first two threes - the second of which gave the Red and Blue a 15-9 edge at the 13:23 mark of the opening half. Penn's lead grew to as many as seven, 21-14, when freshman Jackie Kates assisted freshman Kara Bonenberger's mid-range jumper with 6:45 left in the half. But that marked the final points of the half for the hosts. It was Penn's stifling defense that kept the Quakers in the lead. The Leopards managed just two points in that time and Penn held a 21-16 advantage at the half. Busch and senior Jourdan Banks had quick buckets to start the second half and Penn was up 26-21 with 18:02 to go. But the defenses quickly took over again. Both teams managed fewer than 10 points over the next 10 minutes until the Leopards scored five straight to close to within 33-32 with 7:44 left in the contest. Penn inched the lead to 39-35 with five minutes remaining. Sophomore Alyssa Baron then drained a three which was quickly followed by another three from Busch and the Quakers had their largest lead to that point, 45-35, with 3:04 to play. The Quakers led by as many as 12 to put the game away in the closing minutes.

Up Next
There will be a little rest for the weary. The matchup with nationally-ranked Notre Dame is the third game in six days for the Quakers, including two long travel days in that stretch. But upon returning home, the Quakers will not have to leave Philadelphia again until after the Christmas holiday. Penn hosts Army on Dec. 10 (7 p.m.) and cross-city rival Drexel in a Palestra matinee on Dec. 22 (Noon).

Download: 6-Notre Dame.pdf