Penn women’s basketball releases 2019-20 schedule

2019 Ivy League regular season co-champion Penn released its full schedule on Friday, revealing a 13-game nonconference schedule that is highlighted by games against Philly’s City 6 and holiday visits to Tobacco Road and Honolulu.

The Quakers, which went 4-1 overall against its neighbors and just missed out on winning back-to-back Big Five championships last season, will again face Drexel, La Salle, St. Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.  The Red & Blue, which played four of those games at the Palestra last season, will have to play four of five on the road in 2019-20.

The holidays will be very good to the Quakers, as the team spends Thanksgiving in Durham for a November 29 game against Duke and New Year’s in Hawaii for contests against the University of Hawaii on December 31 and Chaminade on January 2.

Even with those road contests, the Quakers stand a good chance at equaling or improving on last year’s 12-5 out-of-conference schedule.  While the team will face five opponents that made the postseason in 2019, none were in the NCAA Tournament.  In addition, only three of its 13 non-Ivy rivals finished last season with a winning record.

When the Red & Blue return to the mainland after the start of 2020, they will be well-rested when welcoming the other returning co-champions, Princeton, to the Palestra on January 11.  The match will have a bit of a new look as the Tigers bring new head coach Carla Berube to the league’s premier rivalry.

While Penn’s travel partners rest during the last season of its winter finals schedule, the Quakers will complete Big Five play and then resume Ivy contests at the end of January with contests at Dartmouth and Harvard.  Penn has not had any recent trouble at Leede Arena, but things have not gone as well at the renovated Lavietes Pavilion.  The Quakers have been on the losing end of its last two hard-fought battles against Harvard, going down 55-52 in 2018 and dropping an 80-72 in double-overtime heartbreaker last season.

After Penn welcomes the improving Empire State Ivies and then visits the league’s southern New England schools in early February, the Quakers face a huge five-games-in-nine-nights stretch where the league leadership will be in the balance.

The Red & Blue will face Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale and Brown in that time, with four of five contests at the Palestra.  The only road game will be a midweek tussle against the Tigers on Tuesday the 25th.  Penn, which was 12-2 in the Ivy League, came out on top at Jadwin, 66-60, last year.  While the team swept its home games against the other four teams, it took overtime to defeat Harvard and only beat Dartmouth by four and Yale by six.

The Quakers will complete the regular season at Yale and Brown on March 6-7 but expect to play the following weekend in the fourth edition of the Ivy Tournament.   No matter which top-four slot the Quakers finish in, the team will have its work cut out as it will have to win back-to-back games at Lavietes to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017.

The Ancient Eight regular season co-champions entered last year’s Ivy Tournament with the No. 2 seed and were expected to have another nail-biter against No. 3 seed Harvard in the semifinals. The Quakers had other thoughts, flipping the script on the first two games and dominating the Crimson by 29.  Things did not go as well a few hours later, as the Red & Blue ran out of gas late in the second half to No. 1 seed Princeton.

After receiving a second-straight WNIT automatic qualifying bid, Penn defeated American by 19 at home in the first round.  The team’s season ended in Providence two days later as they fell on the road to Providence.

Penn lost four players to graduation, including starters Princess Aghayere and Ashley Russell.  Aghayere, who was second on the team in scoring (12 points per game) and rebounding (6.9 rebounds per game), was chosen to the second team for both the Ivy League and the Big Five, as well as being named the Big Five’s Most Improved Player.  Russell, who averaged 11 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game, was also named second-team for the Big 5 and Ancient Eight.

Despite those big losses, the Quakers still have junior Eleah Parker leading the way.  The 6′ 5″ center from Charlotte led the team in scoring (15.1 points per game), rebounding (nine rebounds per game) and made free throws (60).  Herb 99 blocks were second-most in Ivy history, and her 3.19 blocks per game were third-best in the nation.  For her efforts, she was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection, the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and the Big 5 Player of the Year.

In addition to Parker, the Quakers return senior Phoebe Sterba (26 starts, 27.2 minutes per game, 9.2 points per game, 1.9 assists per game, 1.1 steals per game), Kendall Grasela (30 starts, 25.9 minutes per game, 3.7 points per game, 3.4 assists per game), and Ivy League Coach of the Year Mike McLaughlin (586-177 for career, 179-116 Ivy, four Ivy championships, fastest coach to 400 wins at any NCAA level).

2019-20 Penn Women’s Basketball Schedule

11/9 (Sat.) vs SIENA
11/13 (Wed.) at New Jersey Institute of Technology
11/17 (Sun.) vs IONA
11/20 (Wed.) at St. Joseph’s
11/29 (Fri.) at Duke
12/2 (Mon.) vs HARTFORD
12/4 (Wed.) at La Salle
12/7 (Sat.) vs STETSON
12/20 (Fri.) vs DREXEL
12/31 (Tue.) at Hawaii
1/2 (Thu.) at Chaminade
1/11 (Sat.) vs PRINCETON
1/15 (Wed.) at Villanova
1/22 (Wed.) at Temple
1/31 (Fri.) at Harvard
2/1 (Sat.) at Dartmouth
2/7 (Fri.) vs COLUMBIA
2/8 (Sat.) vs CORNELL
2/14 (Fri.) at Brown
2/15 (Sat.) at Yale
2/21 (Fri.) vs DARTMOUTH
2/22 (Sat.) vs HARVARD
2/25 (Tue.) at Princeton
2/28 (Fri.) vs YALE
2/29 (Sat.) vs BROWN
3/6 (Fri.) at Cornell
3/7 (Sat.) at Columbia