Double Overtime in Cambridge, Women's Basketball Falls 88-84

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - So close. Again. If you need an adrenaline rush, be sure to catch a University of Pennsylvania women's basketball game in the next four weeks. The Quakers took Ivy unbeaten Harvard to overtime in thrilling fashion, but fell in the same manner, 88-84, in the second overtime Saturday night at Lavietes Pavilion.

Alyssa Baron set the freshmen school-record with 38 points before she fouled out with six seconds left in the second overtime. That effort tied the fifth-best single-game scoring output in school history (Diana Caramanico holds the school record with 42 points vs. Albany in 2001).

Penn, which lost in the final minute less than 24 hours earlier at Dartmouth, fell to 7-12 on the year and 1-4 in Ivy play. There were 16 gut-wrenching lead changes and six ties as Harvard remained as the only unbeaten team in Ivy play at 5-0 and is 13-6 on the season.

Down three with 13 seconds to go in regulation, senior Caroline Nicholson was fouled and made her first free throw. She missed the second, but Baron corralled the rebound and was fouled on the putback attempt. She calmly tied the game at 72-72 with 10 seconds left. Harvard, who had defeated the Quakers with a three at the end of regulation in Penn's last visit to Cambridge, missed at the buzzer to send the game into its first extra session.

Harvard hit a jumper to break a tie in overtime with 37 seconds left, but Baron tied the game again, 76-76, with a baseline jumper just 13 seconds later. The Crimson then had a chance to win it - twice. They missed a jumper and the rebound went out of bounds on the Quakers with 3.7 left on the clock. But senior Erin Power stole the inbounds pass and forced the second overtime.

The second overtime went back and forth. Harvard eventually gained a three-point advantage, 85-82, with 1:34 left. Baron who played 45 mintues and also had a career-best six assists, raced down the court and hit a lay-up to close to within a point. The Quakers forced a turnover, but with 11 seconds left, Harvard forced the ball loose from Baron and gained possession. Penn never got the ball back again. Harvard made a free throw and rebounded the following miss. They made two more free throws to ice the game and intercepted a long inbounds pass.

It was a rough start for the Penn offense which finished with its most points since scoring 85 in a win over Princeton on March 11, 2008 and its most at Harvard in 12 years. The Quakers' first seven possessions resulted in three missed shots and four turnovers. But the Red and Blue trailed by just two when senior Jerin Smith got them on the board at the 15:54 mark.

Two minutes later, Baron broke up a 7-0 Harvard run with a three-pointer and a fastbreak lay-up. And then down 16-9, the Quakers scored six straight to pull within one midway through the opening half.

Harvard was relentless though. The Crimson pushed the ball up the floor on every possession and created numerous fastbreaks. Over the next several minutes, they scored eight in a row and led 24-15. Penn responded with baskets from freshman Courtney Wilson and Baron, but Harvard had the next five points to increase its lead to 29-19 with just over five minutes left in the first half.

The Crimson lead was 33-24 with 3:46 to play in the half, but Penn finished on a 10-2 run - aided by a three-point play from sophomore Brianna Bradford and a lay up in the final seconds by junior Jess Knapp - to close the deficit to 35-34 at intermission.

Baron gave the Quakers their first lead of the game, 36-35, one-minute into the second half. Harvard briefly held a 42-38 advantage, but a Baron three-pointer capped a 7-2 Penn run. That gave the Red and Blue a 45-44 lead with 14:54 remaining.

A fury of scoring ensued as the lead changed hands on every single possession for the next few minutes.

Eventually, Harvard went on an 8-0 run and was up 57-50 at the 10:26 mark. But to the delight of a very strong Penn cheering section, the Quakers blitzed the Crimson with 14 in a row - a three-point play by Knapp, followed by a three from Bradford, a three by freshman Meghan McCullough and a jumper from Nicholson. That spurt gave Penn 64-57 lead with 6:15 to play in regulation.

The Crimson countered on their home floor. They held Penn without a basket for the next four minutes and scored 11 straight for a 68-64 lead with 3:04 to go.

Baron hit a three to break Penn's drought with 1:34 remaining and pull the Quakers within one, 68-67. Harvard hit a three in return. Baron made a jumper to make it 71-69, and then Harvard made one of two free throws to set up the intense finishes to regulation, overtime No. 1 and overtime No. 2.

For the second game in a row, nine Quakers scored, including three in double figures. Bradford had 11 in 15 minutes off the bench. McCullough, who played 43 minutes, finished with 10 in addition to three assists and a game-high four steals. In 42 minutes, Knapp had seven points and eight rebounds, which matched a team-high with Power's eight boards.

The Quakers shot well at 43.5 percent (30-of-69) for the game, but Harvard was better at an impressive 50 percent (29-of-58). However, the Red and Blue were red-hot from beyond the arc as they went 9-of-20 (45%) and from the free throw line where they went 15-for-18 (83.3%). Penn outrebounded the Crimson, 40-34, but were outscored in the paint, 34-24.

It was Penn's first double overtime game since a 61-59 win at Princeton on Feb. 1, 2005. The Penn men also lost in double overtime on Saturday night to Harvard - the first time in school history both programs went to double overtime in the same night.

It took until the middle of February, but the Quakers will finally play a home game against an Ivy opponent next weekend. Cornell comes to The Palestra on Friday, followed by Penn's annual Pink Zone game on Saturday night against Columbia. All of Saturday's proceeds from ticket sales, raffles, and t-shirt sales will be donated to Penn's Rena Rowan Breast Center at the Abramson Cancer Center. Click here for complete information on the Pink Zone game festivities. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.

Download: 19-Harvard.pdf