PHILADELPHIA - That was certainly a Senior Night to remember. In front of a large and loud crowd, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team honored its four seniors and then dominated from start to finish en route to clinching a postseason berth. The Quakers easily handled Yale, 59-33, at The Palestra on Saturday Night.
Penn's seventh straight win tied the fourth-longest winning streak in school history (third-longest under head coach Mike McLaughlin), and ensured the Quakers (18-7, 9-2 Ivy) at least second place in the Ivy League. That means Penn will earn the league's automatic berth into the WNIT if they don't win the Ivy title.
The Quakers, who also matched the third-most wins in a season in school history (18), recognized the program's all-time winningest senior class -- captains Katy Allen, Renee Busch, Kara Bonenberger and Kathleen Roche -- prior to the game.
How it Happened
As is tradition, every senior started on Senior Night and they made an impact early. They scored Penn's first seven points -- five from Allen and a three from Roche -- as the Quakers jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first two minutes.
The Bulldogs weathered that burst and briefly subdued the crowd as they closed to within one, 7-6 at the 16:07 mark.
From there it was all Quakers, all the time. Penn scored the next seven points en route to a 14-2 run behind five different scorers. Freshman Beth Brzozowski scored the last five points in that run and put Penn up 21-8 with 8:42 left in the first half.
Yale (12-14, 6-8 Ivy) briefly got within single digits, 21-12, at the 5:29 mark, but Penn ended the half on a 9-3 run and led 30-15 at the break.
Freshman Michelle Nwokedi, who finished with her sixth double-double, and sophomore Sydney Stipanovich, dominated the second half. The duo outscored the entire Yale team and nearly outrebounded them in that time. They scored Penn's first 11 points of the second stanza and built the lead up to 41-19 with 14:50 remaining.
Yale was never within 20 after that. Stipanovich, who finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 12 points, put Penn on top, 49-24, with 9:06 remaining.
The lead hovered around 25 and Penn led by as many as 28 when junior Brooklyn Juday scored in the final minute to make it 59-31.
Inside the Numbers
Nwokedi finished in double figures for the eighth time in nine games and matched a career-high with 19 points to go along with 12 rebounds. She and Stipanovich blocked five shots on the night and finished just two point shy of outscoring Yale as a duo on the night.
Allen grabbed a season-high eight rebounds in front of a large gathering of family and friends in for the Senior Night festivities. Bonenberger had a career-high five assists, while Busch had two points and two rebounds, and Roche contributed five points, a steal, a block and an assist.
Penn shot 44 percent (23-of-52) from the field and held the Bulldogs to 28 percent (14-of-50) overall and 12 percent (2-of-17) from the three-point line.
Penn, which is now 11-1 in its last 12 Ivy League games at The Palestra, forced 19 turnovers and allowed just 14 baskets.
Penn's seniors have won 71 games in their career - the most of any class to don the Red and Blue. A list of most of their accomplishments are below.
One last road trip before a nationally-televised season finale against arch rival Princeton. Next weekend, the Quakers make the trek through the Empire State with a Friday night matchup at Columbia (7 p.m.) and Saturday night contest at Cornell (6 p.m.). Both games can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Class of 2015 Accomplishments
- First Ivy League championship since 2003-04 ... First NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 seasons ... First two postseason wins in program history and first postseason berth since 2003-04 ... First back-to-back postseason appearances in program history ... First class to play in three straight postseasons ... Most career wins by any class in program history (71) ... First Big 5 championship in program history ... Second 20-win season in program history ... Tied school record for wins in a season (22 in 2013-14) ... Third-most wins in a season in school history (18 in 2012-13) ... Most non-conference wins in school history (10 in 2013-14) and second-most non-conference win in school history (9 in 2012-13 & 2014-15) ... Second-longest winning streak in school history (9 in 2013-14) and third-longest winning streak in school history (8 in 2013-14) ... First 10-win Ivy season since 2003-04 and just the fourth 10-win Ivy season in school history (2013-14) ... Tied for second-most Ivy wins in a season in school history (12 in 2013-14) ... School record eight-game non-conference winning streak (2013-14) ... First 3-0 start in Big 5 play (2014-15) ... Most Big 5 wins in a season (three in 2014-15) ... First four-game Big 5 winning streak in school history ... Four Big 5 wins in a three-year span for the first time ever (won six) ... Two Big 5 wins in back-to-back years for the first time in school history ... Three straight over La Salle for the first time in program history and first three-game win streak over any Big 5 opponent since 1980-82 (Temple) ... Three straight 1-0 starts in Big 5 play (had never done so in two consecutive seasons) ... Second win in 40 all-time meetings with Saint Joseph’s and first-ever win over the Hawks at The Palestra (1-23) ... First win over Temple at home since 1999, and first back-to-back wins over the Owls since 1994-95 ... Recorded program’s first-ever win over an ACC opponent (at Miami on Jan. 1, 2014) ... Best 10-game start in school history (8-2 in 2013-14) ... Snapped a 17-game and nine-year losing streak to Harvard and has won five of last six over the Crimson ... Snapped an 11-game losing streak to Princeton and nine-year losing streak at Jadwin Gym ... Largest comeback in school history (19 pts vs. Drexel on Dec. 21, 2013) and second-largest comeback in school history (18 pts at St. Francis Brooklyn on Dec. 5, 2012) ... First sweep at Harvard and Dartmouth since 2004 and first season sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth since 2001 ... First back-to-back wins at Lavietes Pavilion since 2000-01 ... Largest win ever at Dartmouth’s Leede Arena (16 points) ... School record fifth-straight win at Brown and first six-game win streak over Brown since 1978-83.