NEW YORK - Joey Rhoads scored 22 points and Monica Naltner hit several big shots to help lead the Penn women’s basketball team to a 68-62 victory over Columbia on Saturday evening at the Levien Gymnasium.
It was the first Ivy League win and first road triumph of the season for the Quakers (3-11, 1-2 Ivy).
“The team fought hard in the second half and we were very proud of their effort,” said Penn head coach Patrick Knapp. “It’s nice to get our first conference win and hopefully we can keep this momentum up in the weeks to come.”
In the first half, Columbia (4-10, 0-2 Ivy) took a 16-10 lead at the 10 minute mark before freshman Carrie Biemer scored six of Penn’s eight straight points to put her team ahead by two. The teams traded baskets through the rest of the half, but the Quakers got the last laugh as Naltner drained a jumper at the buzzer to make the score 31-27 at the midpoint.
After giving up a six-point lead early in the second stanza, Penn found itself trailing by five with 8:45 remaining in the game. The team slowly crept back after Monica Naltner hit a jumper and two free throws to close the gap to one point. After Columbia sunk one of two free throws, Rachel Wilson was fouled on the other end but knocked down both of hers to tie the contest at 53-53 with six minutes left.
Senior Jennifer Fleischer hit two shots to put Penn ahead but Columbia reeled off five straight points to go up by one point.
Naltner responded once again, sinking a three-point basket off a quick pass from Fleischer to help her team reclaim the lead. The Quakers quickly got the ball back after a Naltner steal and capitalized on a lay-up by Fleischer to go up by four until Columbia’s Megan Griffith scored at the other end to cut the lead to two with two minutes left.
But Rhoads, who led her team in scoring for the sixth time in the last eight games,hit a three-pointer to go ahead by five and knocked down two big free throws with 36 seconds remaining to seal the win for Penn.
Junior Ashley Gray was a major inside force for the Quakers, pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds (seven offensive) while scoring 11 points.
Fleischer ended up with nine points and 10 rebounds while Naltner finished with 11 points and nine boards for the Quakers. Wilson added eight points and eight rebounds in the winning effort.
The Quakers as a team outrebounded the Lions by a 57-36 margin, which included 21 offensive rebounds to Columbia's 13.
Michele Gage led Columbia with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The Quakers return to action on Thursday, Jan. 19, to take on non-conference foe Lafayette at The Palestra. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.