Penn women’s basketball, playing far better of late, will look for far better results in its second Big 5 contest.
The Quakers (3-3) will be at home on Wednesday night to take on La Salle (4-4) for some midweek action at the Palestra.
Penn lost three of its first four games to begin the season, including a 57-53 loss to Saint Joseph’s in the Big 5 opener on Nov. 22.
But since then, the Red and Blue have played terrific basketball, winning their last two games 64-47 and 63-39. La Salle comes in hot as well, having won four of its previous five games.
Between the two teams, Penn has won four straight head-to-head matchups and five of the past six, but the Explorers lead the all-time rivalry 33-10.
The Quakers will be led by the red-hot duo of senior center Sydney Stipanovich and junior forward Michelle Nwokedi, each of whom have four double-doubles in the first six games. Stipanovich in particular should be a source of intimidation in the eyes of La Salle, as she had 21 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks in last season’s 78-68 Penn victory.
That last matchup came on La Salle’s home court, but just because the Quakers are at home doesn’t mean things will be any easier for Mike McLaughlin’s squad; the Red and Blue are 0-2 on their home floor this season.
For La Salle, the biggest threat is clearly Amy Griffin, the star junior who is averaging 20.1 points per game this season. Griffin’s scoring comes from inside as she rarely shoots the three, so the matchup between her and Penn’s two shot-blocking studs in Stipanovich and Nwokedi will be one to watch.
These are non-conference games, but with Big 5 glory on the line, neither team will take this contest lightly, especially not a Penn team that needs to prove itself after a rocky start. And for a team with NCAA Tournament aspirations, such as the Quakers, every game counts.
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