PHILADELPHIA - The Quaker women's basketball team led by as many as 10 in the second half, but Cornell rode hot shooting late to come from behind and defeat Penn, 56-54, at The Palestra Saturday night.
Down by two with nine seconds left, the Quakers (4-18, 2-7 Ivy) had one lastshot to win the game, but a Monica Naltner three-point attempt just barely missed as time expired.
The Big Red (8-15, 5-5 Ivy) came back from a 40-30 deficit with 17 minutes left as Jeomi Maduka and Shanna Scarselletta combined for seven straight points to cut the Quaker lead to three.
Penn went ahead by six points after sophomore Brilynne Parrish knocked down a three-pointer on the next possession, but Cornell wouldn't go away.The Big Redcut down the score to 45-43 by the 7:13 mark and then took its first lead since early in the game on a clutch three-pointer by Kaylee Fitzsimmons with 6:27 remaining.
After two Rhoads foul shots and a layup by Carrie Biemer gave Penn back the lead, Fitzsimmons hit another huge three-point basket to tie the contest at 49-49 at the 2:27 mark.
But it was Cornell's Maduka, a freshman center,who was the key forher team down the stretch. Her layup with 1:42 left gave Cornell the lead (she was fouled but missed the free throw) and after a Naltner turnover on the opposite side of the court, Maduka used a strong inside move and hit another layup despite being fouled again. This time, she converted the three-point play to give Cornell a 54-49 lead with 40.5 seconds left.
Freshman Kelly Scott gave Penn another chance after she was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit all of her free throws to cut the score to 54-52.Cornell's Lindsay Krasna made both of her foul shots on the other end, but Parrish scored a quick basket for Penn with 12 seconds left and the Quakers quickly fouled Maduka on the in-bound. Maduka missed both free throws, setting up the opportunity for Naltner's shot, which seemed like it was going to fall but rattled inside of the rim and popped out to end the game.
The Quakers led the Big Red 34-26 at the midpoint, thanks to a 46.7 percent shooting effort and 14 points by Joey Rhoads, who finished with a team-high 19 points and three steals. Penn was held to just 23.8 percent on 5-of-21 shooting in the second stanza.
Scott scored 13 points and had five rebounds while senior Jennifer Fleischer, who was coming off of a 25-point, 21-rebound performance against Columbia last night, added seven points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for the Quakers.
Madukascored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the second half to pace Cornell while Krasna added 14 points and five boards.
The Quakers next travel to New England to take on Ivy League foes Harvard on Friday, Feb. 24, and Dartmouth on Saturday, Feb. 25. Tip-off for both games is slated for 7 p.m.