Penn women's basketball makes history
It isn’t every year that Penn women’s basketball wins the Big 5 Title. In fact, it’s never happened before in the 36-year history of the Big 5.
That all changed over winter break as a Renee Busch three-pointer sealed a win over Temple for the Quakers with 25.1 seconds left.
With the 52-50 victory, the Quakers set six school records — including their first 3-0 start in Big 5 play, first four-game Big 5 winning streak, and their most Big 5 wins in a season.
As always, it started and ended with the stifling Penn defense that has been a defining characteristic in wins this season. The Quakers held the Owls (7-10, 1-3 Big 5) to 26.8 percent shooting from the field, making up for their 17 turnovers.
It was just the most recent achievement in the Mike McLaughlin era, but given his propensity to bring in top-tier talent year after year and continually build off of past years, it isn’t too surprising.
Last season saw the Quakers win two Big 5 games for just the second time in program history. For a program that’s struggled for so many years against the Big 5 — even Ivy League title teams had failed to secure multiple Big 5 wins — starting 3-0 is impressive.
Penn’s final Big 5 game comes later this month against a Villanova team that is currently on a six-game winning streak.
Apart from Penn and Villanova, most of the Big 5 has struggled uncharacteristically this season.
While La Salle has posted a 10-6 record, they’ve struggled against conference and Big 5 opponents. Saint Joseph’s has struggled in the early going, posting a 5-10 record, just one year removed from a 23-10 season that included an NCAA Tourney win and a Big 5 sweep.
While Penn might not be able to repeat on their Ivy League Championship — No. 22 Princeton might just be the best Ivy League women’s team in history — but earning their first ever Big 5 title is an incredible achievement for the team.