Ithaca, N.Y. Despite amassing a 16-point second-half lead, Penn women’s basketball survived a 15-0 run to defeat Cornell, 51-50, at Newman Arena on Saturday night. Jennifer Fleischer set a new career high with 21 rebounds, tied for the fourth-most in a single game at Penn, and Monica Naltner registered her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Quakers (12-8, 5-2 Ivy) used a 14-4 run to start the second half to open up a 42-26 lead at the 14:29 mark. Karen Habrukowich scored nine of her 13 points during the run. From that point the Red and Blue went cold and the Big Red (2-19, 0-8 Ivy) went on a six-minute, 11-second run to pull within one point at 42-41 with 8:37 remaining. Katherine Stritzl, who sparked the spurt, led Cornell with 15 points on the night. She had the opportunity to tie the score at 46 but missed a free throw. Habrukowich hit a three-pointer on Penn’s next possession with 3:02 remaining. The Quakers’ final points came on a Fleischer put back after her 21st rebound of the night. With the career-best, Fleischer tied Kirsten Brendel (1987-91) and Michelle Maldonado (1995-98) for the fourth-most rebounds in a Penn women’s basketball game.
Fleischer owned the first half of play as the junior center led all players with 11 points (4-of-6) and an astounding 15 rebounds. Penn opened the half with five-straight points on a Cat Makarewich trey and an Amanda Kammes foul-line jumper. The Quakers used a four-minute, 57-second Cornell scoring drought to build am 18-12 lead when Naltner hit a field goal at the 7:40 mark. Naltner finished the first half with six points and five boards.
Penn grabbed a double-digit lead twice in the first frame, going ahead by 10 at 26-16 on a pair of Ashley Gray free throws at the 1:29 mark and again, 28-18, on a Joey Rhoads mid-range jumper with 59 seconds remaining before break. Gray contributed a career-high five rebounds. The Big Red had another nearly five-minute scoring drought but managed to cut the lead to six at the break, 28-22, on a pair of long two-point field goals by Claire Perry and Amy Lyon. Lyon led Cornell with eight points at halftime.
Penn heads back to The Palestra for its final five home games, starting with a 7 p.m. tip against Brown on Feb. 18.Written by Mat Kanan, associate director of athletic communications