Guru's College Report: Penn Drubs La Salle While Princeton Downs Drexel
PHILADELPHIA -- Penn didn’t have to worry about starting out in a funk in the home opener against La Salle Wednesday night because of any lingering memories from the season-opening 97-52 drubbing at No. 4 Tennessee, Friday night.
The memories of last season of glory were put on display prior to the opening tip as the Quakers had a public reception and then watched as the banner from the Ivy championship was unveiled high on the ceiling of the fabled Palestra.
Then the business of this season resumed and Penn went on to take a 9-0 lead and make quick work of the Explorers with a 57-29 victory to go 1-0 in the Big 5 and even the overall record at 1-1.
La Salle is now 0-2 and also 0-2 in the Big 5 following the narrow season-opening loss at Temple Friday night.
Two other of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW teams also went head-to-head in the only other game on the books Wednesday and Penn’s Ivy League power sister Princeton, winner of the four previous league titles, drubbed Drexel 59-43 at home in Jadwin Gym.
Yes, for those wondering, mark down Jan. 10 on your Ivy calendars when the Quakers and Tigers will play their traditional Ivy opener, this time at Princeton at 2 p.m.
But Penn coach Mike McLaughlin doesn’t like looking ahead beyond the next game, which is a visit to Navy in Annapolis, Md., Saturday night, so let’s stay in the moment and flash back to the Quakers’ third straight win over the Explorers and fourth in the last five seasons.
With Alyssa Baron missing from the lineup on the Palestra floor for the first time in five years as she plies her post-graduate pro career in Israel, Sydney Stipanovich, who became last season’s annual rookie sensation, had a double double with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
Incidentally, newcomer Michelle Nwokedi from Texas, a strong threat to be the fifth straight post season top rookie for McLaughlin, came into the game in the last three minutes and scored two layups and a trey for seven points.
No one else on either team scored in double figures or did anything else in double figures but Penn’s Kathleen Roche had eight points, Kara Bonenberger had six points and five rebounds, rookie guard Anna Ross scored seven, matching Nwokedi’s total.
Keiera Ray had six points off the bench and Katy Allen scored four.
La Salle, which was missing Alicia Cropper because of a foot injury, got seven points out of Siobhan Beslow.
“It was a time to celebrate last year but ‘Coach stressed that take in the moment and then move on,” Stipanovich said. “We had a game to take care of and we were prepared.”
Roche, who played in the Philly summer league in the offseason, noted, “It was awesome and great to see all the seniors from last season here, too,” said of the extra events that saw the return of Meghan McCullouch as a civilian and three others offer greetings through video messages.
As for any lingering effects from the Tennessee game, Stipanovich said, “No one likes to get beaten that way, but we took it for what it was, we wanted to play all the best teams we can play before conference play begins.
“We were excited to get back on our home court and get a win,” Roche said.
Stipanovich is from St. Louis, but it didn’t take long to understand what local success in City Series play means.
“The Big 5 is special, I found that out last year,” she said.
Penn forced La Salle into 23 turnovers and outscored the Explorers 13-5 in transition and 11-3 on second chance points.
The Quakers also held La Salle, which hosts Howard Saturday, to a 22 percent shooting effort from the floor and outrebounded the Explorers 45-35 while denying them any three-pointers in 11 attempts.
It was the fewest points Penn held an opponent in a Big 5 game since topping Temple 65-29 in January 1995 and the largest Big 5 victory since that game.
It’s the first time the Quakers have won three straight over a Big 5 rival since beating Temple 1980-82, which match the first three seasons of formal City Series competition for the women.
“They were ready to play,” McLaughlin said of his team. “They wanted to finish this night off with an exclamation point and have a great day.”
As for any lingering problems from traveling to the South, McLaughlin said, “We laid out our goals. We didn’t hide from the fact of who they were. We didn’t back down but we knew what we were in for.
“We didn’t except anything but playing our best.”
Penn is no longer a doormat as displayed Wednesday night, but McLaughlin noted, “Winning a Big 5 game is awesome but our goal is to win every night and if it is a Big 5 game, that is awesome. We won two last year and were in two others. The intensity of those games allows our kids to turn it up to another level.”
Thje Quakers are winless at Navy and 2-5 overall in terms of the series against the Midshipwomen (0-2 right now), who are coached by former Harvard assistant Stefani Pemper.
The game is free on the Patriot League streaming network.
Princeton Pounds Drexel
It’s now 0-6 for the visiting Dragons over the last six years in their series with the Tigers though this time Drexel (1-1) held its biggest leads in that span with early seven-point advantages at 9-7 and 13-6 before the Tigers rallied for a 59-43 victory to stay unbeaten at 3-0 on the heels of sweeping Pittsburgh and Duquesne in the Steel City.
Princeton in taking its home opener in Jadwin Gym in central New Jersey got 13 points and three rebounds from Alex Wheatley while Blake Dietrick scored 12 points and Annie Tarakchian’s 11 rebounds were one short of a career high.
Rachel Pearson was the only Drexel player in double figures, scoring 15 points.
Drexel next hosts Colgate on Saturday while Princeton travels to American University in Washington Sunday night.
The way the poll turns, so to speak, will be in play Thursday night in the wake of No. 6 Stanford’s narrow but impressive home win over top-ranked Connecticut on Monday.
The Cardinal, which shot to the top of the coaches’ poll, whose votes are collected a day later than the AP weekly release, will be hosting No. 10 Texas while No. 2 South Carolina has a local in-state match against Clemson.
UMBC’s 78-65 win over Coppin State makes the Terriers 3-0 for the first time since 1989-90.
A good win for The American with new member Tulane taking an in-state win at LSU, but also a tough loss with South Florida, picked second by the coaches in the conference behind UConn, losing at No. 9 Maryland 85-67.
LSU and Alabama have all four losses at two each among the entire Southeastern Conference membership while the newly-configured Conference USA group has posted 18 wins in the first six days of season action.
Georgia, in a three-way tie at No. 24, went to unranked Ohio State in Columbus and used a 22-9 run down the stretch to beat the Buckeyes 67-59.
Career roots in CoSIDA, known as the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association, is getting to be a good basis to become chair of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Committee.
The Big 12 Dru Hancock is the current chair and the Guru first met her when she worked at Minnesota more than three decades ago.
On Wednesday, the NCAA announced the next chair will be Pac-12 executive Chris Dawson, who the Guru first knew when she was the media liason for Cal.
That’s it for the moment. If the Guru gets his decks cleared, with all local D-1s idle, he plans to make a surprise D-II visits to a site in which one of his immediate locals will visit Thursday niight.
-- Mel --
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