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March Total: 5
Season Total: 38
PHILADELPHIA - A 19-point deficit was down to just two with under a minute to play, but the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team couldn't complete the comeback and fell to Yale Saturday night at The Palestra, 70-65.
Penn (16-11, 9-4 Ivy) fell for the first time at home this season against an Ivy League opponent. It was also just the first loss at The Palestra since Jan. 23. Yale finished the season in fourth place in the Ivy League at 13-15 overall and 8-6 in league play. Penn is in third place and will play Princeton on Tuesday in the season finale at The Palestra.
Sophomore Kara Bonenberger had a monster night with 20 points and 12 rebounds for her third career double-double and first this season. Meanwhile, junior captain Alyssa Baron added a team-high 22 points, but a wild comeback attempt came up just short.
The Quakers dug a big hole from the start. As a foreshadow of what was to come, Yale hit two threes and catapulted to a 10-0 lead over the first 2:27.
Penn got the next five, but Yale, which made eight of their 12 threes in the first half, made two more and extended its advantage to 18-7.
Midway through the half, the deficit was still 11, but an 8-0 run - sparked by a three from senior captain Brianna Bradford and finished on a turnaround jumper from Baron - got the Quakers within 23-20 at the 6:36 mark.
However, Yale, which made 55 percent of its three-point attempts compared to Penn's 25 percent, hit four more threes before the half was over. That included one for good measure right before the buzzer for a 38-26 Bulldogs lead at intermission.
Penn let Yale slip out to an 18-point lead in the early going of the second half. And with 12:08 to play, Yale was up 55-36.
The Quakers refused to let Yale leave without a fight though. Trailing by 18 with just 9:43 to go, the Red and Blue started to chip away.
Freshman Keiera Ray, sophomore Katy Allen and Baron combined for the game's next seven points to close to within 11. Bonenberger, who had notched her double-double by the 12-minute mark, closed the gap to 60-51 with 5:14 to play.
After two Yale free throws, Bonenberger made a layup and then Roche buried a three to close to within six, 62-56 at the 2:27 mark.
Baron drove the lane and made it a four-point game and after Yale made a free throw, Baron sunk a deep three to make it a two-point game, 64-62 with 41 seconds remaining.
From there though, Yale went 6-for-6 from the free throw line to hold on.
Bonenberger also finished with a game-high three blocks and three steals. Her 42 blocks this year are fifth-most in a season at Penn, passing former teammate Jess Knapp for that spot. Allen added nine rebounds and Baron had a team-best four assists. Roche finished with nine points and six boards, while Ray, who fouled out with just over a minute to play, has six points, three assists and two steals.
Penn made 23-of-66 (34.8%) shots but just 6-of-24 from beyond the arc. Yale was 21-of-67 (31.3%) overall with 12 threes and just nine buckets inside the arc. Yale won the rebounding battle, 52-46. Penn had just 10 turnovers and forced 12 miscues.
Princeton beat Brown on Saturday night to clinch the 2012-13 Ivy League title and automatic NCAA Tournament berth. Combined with the Penn loss, Harvard's victory at Cornell clinched the Crimson second-place and the automatic WNIT berth. Penn will finish third regardless of Tuesday's outcome - the program's highest finish since the 2003-04 title season. Penn will now hope for an at-large bid to the WNIT or WBI.
The regular season finale is a semi-matinee against the Tigers on Tuesday, which also serves as Senior Day for captains Brianna Bradford and Katie Davis. The game will be the first in a doubleheader with the men. Tip off for the women is at 5 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. for the men.