PHILADELPHIA - Senior Jennifer Fleischer celebrated her birthday in style with perhapsthe best performance of her career at Penn. She became just the seventh player in program history to break the 20-20 plateau with 25 points and 21 rebounds in leading the Quakers to a 64-49 victory over Columbia on Friday night at The Palestra.
The Quakers (4-17, 2-6 Ivy League) snapped a six-game losing skid with the victory asthe Lions (5-17, 1-8 Ivy League) never led in the game.
"Getting inside and clearing the boards was key for us tonight," said head coach Patrick Knapp. "Jennifer 'ruled supreme,' so to speak, on the boards tonight. She did a great job on both sides of the court for us."
Columbia simply never had an answerfor the 6-foot-3 center, and it showed immediately as the Quakers jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game after two baskets each by Monica Naltner and Fleischer. Those two names were called often over The Palestra public address system in the first half, as Naltner hit 5-of-7 from the field, including two three-pointers, to finish the first stanza with 12 points. Fleischer had a double-double by the midpoint with 13 points and 11 boards.
The Quakers as a team shot 46.7 percent from the field to take a 39-27 first half lead, the most points Penn has scored all season in the first 20 minutes of a game.
Both teams cooled off a bit in the second half, but Fleischer was still a dominant inside force for the Red and Blue.She scored 12 of her team's 25 points in the half, including six straight after Columbia cut the Quaker lead to 10 points with eight minutes left, helping her team keep distance from the Lions.
"My teammates obviously did a great job getting me the ball," said Fleischer, whoturned 22-years-old on Friday. "I can't do much of anything without their help."
The New Hartford, N.Y., native tied career highs with her 25 points and 21 boards, while also adding five blocks, two assists and a steal for one of the top statistical games for a Quaker in recent history. It was the first 20-20 effort since Penn all-time leading scorer Diana Caramanico scored 23 points and grabbed 20 rebounds against Cornell on Jan. 29, 2000. Overall, it was the eighth all-time 20-20 game in Quaker history (Natasha Rezek and Kirsten Brendel each did it twice).
Naltner also gave a strong effort in the Penn win, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds, while Joey Rhoads added seven points and six assists.
Megan Griffith scored 13 points and had nine assists for Columbia.
The Quakers return to action on Saturday, Feb. 18, to take on Cornell at The Palestra. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.