Here's a look at how Penn women's basketball is doing compared to its Big 5 rivals so far this season.
1. Temple (4-3, 1-0 Big 5)
In the closest Big 5 game so far this season, Temple narrowly took down Villanova 68-62 in a game over Thanksgiving weekend. The victory brought the Owls' win total against the Wildcats to seven, in comparison with nine losses against Villanova.
All players on the Owls stepped up to shoot a combined 44% from the field, with freshman Aniya Gourdine scoring a season-high of 17 points, to contribute to the surprise upset. The game was tied at 60-60 with a little over a minute on the clock when the Owls proved their resilience and narrowly beat out the Wildcats.
2. Villanova (3-3, 2-1)
The 2019 champions Villanova took the last Big 5 title by beating Penn 58-50 in the Palestra. This season, Villanova has started off strong, dominating Saint Joseph's 55-39 before facing off against Penn.
Villanova was narrowly able to fend the Quakers off, winning by a three-point margin. Both teams were missing starting players; the Wildcat’s leading scorer Maddy Siegrist suffered a hand injury, and multiple Red and Blue upperclassmen were serving suspensions.
Villanova freshman Lucy Olsen exploded to score 20 points and continues to be a player to watch out for, helping the team keep pace in the Big 5 despite its loss against Temple.
3. La Salle (4-3, 1-0)
The Explorers took down Penn 63-49 in the Palestra, decided by a key fourth-quarter run, to kick off the team's first Big 5 game with a win.
In the future, La Salle will have to look towards competing against the historically strongest teams in the Big 5, Temple and Villanova, in order to see if they can really be in the conversation.
4. University of Pennsylvania (4-3, 0-2)
At the start of the season, it was unclear where Penn women’s basketball would stand in the Big 5 this year. After the Red and Blue lost a few starters due to suspensions on junior and senior players early in November, younger players needed to find a way to step up.
In the team's first Big 5 match of the season, Penn showed that it wasn't to be ignored by keeping up with a strong Villanova team, though the Quakers narrowly lost in the end.
Players such as sophomore forward Jordan Obi and sophomore guard Michaela Stanfield found ways to score points while other young players such as freshman guard Lizzy Groetsch made strong plays defensively.
As more players become active on the team again, the Quakers will look to turn the tide and move up in the Big 5 rankings.
5. Saint Joseph’s (1-6, 0-1)
The Hawks faced a tough Villanova team earlier in November, falling to the Wildcats 55-39. This loss starts the team at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the Big 5.
This year the Hawks seem to be struggling in the Atlantic 10 Conference, falling to the very bottom of the rankings. The team has taken on three graduate student transfers that will put a spin on the team dynamic leading into the remainder of the season.
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