LAIE, Hawaii - Aloha! The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team begins its trip across the Pacific with a matchup against BYU-Hawaii on New Year’s Eve (7 p.m. EST). The Quakers will wrap up 2015 with their first-ever contest against the Seasiders, and their first regular-season battle with a Division II program since 1987 (Philadelphia University). It is not Penn’s debut in Hawaii, however, as the Red and Blue visited the “Aloha State” in 1985 -- taking on the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific.
Catching the Game
Fans can watch the game against the Seasiders via a live stream on the BYU-Hawaii website. 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.
A Penn Win Would...
... make the Quakers 8-2 on the year
... be the third consecutive for the Quakers
... give Coach McLaughlin 502 victories in his career
... be the first-ever over BYU-Hawaii
Last Time Out
The Quakers picked up a pair of wins during the final weekend before Christmas, defeating the likes of Drexel and Wagner. Penn’s 72-67 triumph over city-rival Drexel on December 19 signified the 500th victory in the career of Coach McLaughlin. Junior Sydney Stipanovich led the way against the Dragons, pouring in a season-high 27 points and grabbing nine boards. She followed up that performance by recording her third double-double of the season against Wagner, notching 18 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Michelle Nwokedi was also stellar over the two contests, averaging 15.5 points and 12 rebounds.
Head Coach Mike McLaughlin now has 501 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 94-89 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. Over the last two games, Stipanovich is averaging 22.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 2.0 assists. She is shooting 67 percent during this stretch, making 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 third in the Ivy League in rebounds per game (9.1), third in blocks per contest (2.3) and eighth in points per game (14.1).
Not to be outdone, Michelle Nwokedi has also been superb over the last two contests. The sophomore registered her fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 15 boards against Drexel, followed by a 20-point, nine-rebound, four-block effort versus Wagner. 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 (15.3) and tops in the Ivy in rebounding (10.1).
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 207 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 50.9 points per game this season. They also pace the Ancient Eight in blocks per game at 5.9. 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 over 83 percent of the Quakers’ offensive production this season, Penn’s bench has produced double-digit points over the last two games. Sophomore Beth Brzozowski has 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 (12 vs. Drexel) just once in her last five games.
*The Quakers hold a 18-1 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 45 percent (13-for-29).
*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 96 percent of the offense for the Red and Blue this season.
*Penn has won 36 consecutive regular-season games when putting at least 60 points on the scoreboard.
The Quakers will travel to Honolulu to take on the University of Hawaii on Saturday night. Penn is 0-1 all-time against Hawaii, having lost the only contest with the Rainbow Warriors in 1984.
Download: BYU Hawaii.pdf