PHILADELPHIA - Penn returns from the holiday break for a pair of non-conference home games. The Quakers wrap up 2014 with a matchup against UMBC on Monday (7 p.m.) and then host King’s College (Pa.) in a New Years Eve matinee at The Palestra (1 p.m.).
In the Series vs. UMBC and King’s
Penn does not have a long history with either of these teams. When it comes to King’s, the Quakers and Lady Monarchs have yet to play. King’s is a Division II school from Wilkes-Barre, Pa. This will be the third all-time matchup with UMBC and the first since 2003. The Red and Blue have won both of the previous matchups by double digits. The Quakers won the first matchup on Dec. 11, 1999 by a score of 81-60 in the Conference Challenge in Baltimore, Md. Then in the 2003 season opener at UMBC’s Retriever Classic, the Quakers came out on top by a score of 54-37.
Catching the Game
Fans can watch both games on the Ivy League Digital Network (ILDN.tv). Live stats can be found on at PennAthletics.com. Live twitter updates (@PennWBB) are also available. A complete recap and box score can be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.
A motto the team has adopted as defending champions that pride themselves on defense. It showed in Penn’s Big 5 opener against La Salle. Shortly after raising the Ivy League championship banner in the home opener against the Explorers, the Quakers held La Salle to 29 total points—the fewest Penn has allowed in a game since a 65-29 win over Temple on Jan. 17, 1995. The Quakers also held La Salle without a three-pointer—the third time the Quakers have shut out an opponent behind the arc under Coach McLaughlin and the first since a win over Cornell on Feb. 22, 2013. On the contrary, Penn has made a three in every game since a home loss to Harvard on Feb. 6, 2010—a span of 132 games.
Big 5 Milestones
Penn’s Big 5 wins over La Salle (57-29) and Saint Joseph’s (65-51) set several other milestones...
...third-largest margin of victory in a Big 5 game and largest since Jan. 17, 1995 vs. Temple.
...fewest points allowed in Big 5—or any game—since Jan. 17, 1995 vs. Temple (65-29).
...marked the first time Penn has won a Big 5 game in three consecutive seasons since 1999-02.
...first-ever three-game Big 5 winning streak.
...Coach McLaughlin tied a school record with six career Big 5 wins in just his sixth season.
...marked four Big 5 wins in a three-year span for the first time ever (currently at five).
...have won three straight over La Salle for the first time in program history.
...first three-game win streak over any Big 5 opponent since 1980-82 (Temple).
...third straight 1-0 start in Big 5 play (had never done so in two consecutive seasons).
...second 2-0 start in Big 5 play in program history (2004-05).
...second win in 40 all-time meetings with Saint Joseph’s (other was in 2004).
...first-ever win over Saint Joseph’s at The Palestra (1-23).
...tied school record for most Big 5 wins in a single season.
...Two Big 5 wins in back-to-back years for the first time in school history.
Big 5 Double-Doubles
Sophomore Sydney Stipanovich has two double-doubles this season and both came against the Big 5. Her 10 double-doubles last season were the most in a season at Penn since Jennifer Fleischer in 2004-05, and her 12 career double-doubles are tied with Diane DiBonaventuro (1978-82) for 12th-most in program history. Her next one will tie her for 10th all-time at Penn. In those two wins over the Big 5, Stipanovich averaged an impressive 14.0 points per game and 13.0 rebounds per game. She is not the only Penn player with a double-double this season however, as freshman Michelle Nwokedi recorded the first of her career with 17 points and 14 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench of a win over New Hampshire.
Uncharted Big 5 Territory
In the 36-year history of the Big 5, Penn has never won a Big 5 championship. But Penn’s two Big 5 wins put the Quakers alone in first place in the Big 5. The Red and Blue are the only unbeaten team remaining in the city conference. The Quakers will clinch at least a share of their first Big 5 title with a win in one of their two final Big 5 matchups. No easy task though. Penn hosts Temple on Jan. 5,—a team the Quakers have yet to defeat at The Palestra this century (last home win was in 1999). Then on Jan. 21, Penn hosts Villanova—a team that has won every annual meeting since 2001, hasn’t lost to the Quakers in regulation since 1975 and is 38-2 all-time against Penn.
Magic Number: 60
The statistic that may most indicate a Penn win or loss? 60 points. Since head coach Mike McLaughlin took over at Penn, the Quakers are 50-9 (.847) when they score 60 points, including 23-1 over the last two seasons (only loss was to Texas in NCAA Tournament, 79-61). In comparison, the Quakers are just 20-72 (.220) when they’ve scored less than 60 points under Coach McLaughlin. The trend continues defensively. Over the last six seasons, the Red and Blue are 13-49 (.213) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a healthy winning record of 57-32 (.640).
Penn is 26-9 (.765) in its last 34 games ... Penn has won eight of the last 12 on the road ... The Quakers have won 17 of the last 18 and are 35-2 over the last three seasons when shooting better than 40 percent ... The Red and Blue have won 16 of the last 17 games when their free throw percentage is better than 70 percent ... Penn has won 31 of the last 33 games when outrebounding its opponent ... Penn reached 70 points is 19-1 under Coach McLaughlin when scoring more than 70 points—only loss in double overtime, 88-84, at Harvard in 2011.
No. 11 in the Nation
Sophomore Sydney Stipanovich ranks 11th in the nation with 3.0 blocks per game this season. She has 24 in the first eight games. That has propelled Penn to fifth in the country with 6.7 blocks per game as a team this year. Freshman Michelle Nwokedi is second on the team and fourth in the Ivy League with 1.2 blocks per game, while Kara Bonenberger ranks among Penn’s all-time greatest shot blockers (see below).
Sydney Stipanovich picked up where she left off. The sophomore had six blocks in the season opener at No. 4 Tennessee which finished one shy of the opponent record at Thompson-Boling Arena, last set by Brittany Griner. In addition, Stipanovich became just the fourth Penn player to surpass 100 career blocks (reminder, she was playing her first game of her sophomore season). She just surpassed Penn Athletics and Big 5 Hall of Famer Diana Caramanico for third-place on the school’s all-time career blocks list (just five games into her sophomore season) and is five blocks from second place. Last season, Stipanovich finished eighth in the nation (and second among freshmen in the NCAA) with an Ivy League-leading 3.4 blocks per game. Her 99 blocks in 29 games were more than every Ivy League team other than Princeton (114). The next closest Ivy player was Harvard’s Temi Fagbenle with 40 blocks in 28 games. In addtion, Stipanovich set the school’s single-season blocks record—she surpassed the 20-year-old mark with eight games remaining—and finished second on the Ivy League’s all-time single-season blocks list. Also, prior to last season, no Penn player had ever recorded eight blocks in a game, but Stipanovich did so three times. One week after setting the school record at eight, she broke her own single-game mark with nine blocks against Harvard on Feb. 1—third-most all-time in an Ivy League game.
Senior Kara Bonenberger joined Stipanovich in Penn’s 100 career blocks club with a pair of rejections at Drexel on Dec. 20. That means two of the five Penn players to record 100 career blocks are playing next to each other. Bonenberger has 101 career blocks and ranks fifth all-time at Penn in that category.
Head Coach Mike McLaughlin has always had strong defensive teams. This year is no different. The Quakers rank second in the Ivy League in scoring defense and three-point percentage defense, and are first in field goal percentage defense and blocks. Of 343 teams the Red and Blue are 24th in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.338) and 32nd in scoring defense (55.0). The Quakers are also one of the nation’s more diciplined teams as they lead the Ivies and rank 28th in the country with just 15.1 fouls per game.
Two Penn Wins Would...
... be 11 wins in the last 12 games at The Palestra.
... make the Quakers 6-4 to start the season.
Two Penn Losses Would...
... be the first to Kings or UMBC.
... make the Quakers 4-6 this season.
... be less good than a win.
Last Time Out: L, 67-58 at Drexel
A hot shooting effort from Drexel once again doomed Penn at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. Despite a 10-point lead in the second half, the Quakers lost for the ninth straight time at the DAC and dropped the 25th edition of the Battle of 33rd Street, 67-58. Penn led 17-13 before Drexel scored eight straight. However, Kathleen Roche ended the Dragons run and stopped an extended scoring drought with a three that pulled Penn within 21-20 and sparked a 13-3 run that Anna Ross capped with a long jumper just before the buzzer to give the Quakers a 30-23 halftime lead. The Quakers pushed their lead to 10 in the opening minutes of the second half, but Drexel responded with 17 straight points and led 43-36 with 10:36 left. Penn closed to within two on several occasions, but that was as close as they would get as the Dragons made each of their last six shots to hold Penn at bay.
Possibly the biggest Big 5 matchup in school history. The Quakers have a chance to clinch a share of the program’s first-ever Big title when they open 2015 with a home game against Temple. Tip off from The Palestra is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 5.
Download: 9 - UMBC, Kings.pdf