CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - An upset of second-place Harvard was not in the cards Saturday night as a furious second half comeback fell short for the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team, 69-54, at Lavietes Pavilion.
It was the second straight loss for the Quakers (6-17, 3-6 Ivy) as they fell to the top two teams in the Ivy League over the weekend. Harvard (15-8, 7-2 Ivy) remained in second place in the League standings.
The Quakers had upset on their mind early. They jumped out to an early lead - which they held for the first nine minutes of the game. After failing to hit a three-pointer for the first time all season just 24 hours earlier at Dartmouth, senior Carrie Biemer drained a three eight seconds into the game. Penn maintained its advantage and extended it to its largest lead after another Biemer three put the Quakers up 12-8 with 11:29 left in the half.
Two possessions later, Harvard converted a three-point play to take a 13-12 lead when Biemer, the Ivy League's leading scorer, committed her second personal foul. Biemer was relegated to the bench due to foul trouble and the Crimson took advantage. Harvard went on a 23-2 run as the Quakers managed just one basket over the next 10 minutes.
When the dust settled, Harvard held a 31-14 lead with a minute remaining until intermission. The Quakers created a spark going into the locker room though, scoring four points in the final 18 seconds. Two free throws by freshman Tyler Cumbo and a pull-up jumper by senior Kelly Scott pulled Penn within 31-18 at the half.
Biemer came alive in the second half, scoring all but six of her 23 points in the last 20 minutes.
After Harvard extended their edge to 16 points early on in the second half, Penn scored four straight with a layup from senior Katarina Lackner and a jumper from Biemer to close to within 34-22. The Crimson scored the next six points and eventually had their largest lead of the game at 47-29 with 12:51 to go.
Biemer scored on the next four possessions though and with the help of the Quakers defense, guided Penn on an 11-0 run. After a layup, the Haddonfield, N.J., native hit back-to-back-to-back threes. The last of which got the Quakers within seven, 47-40 with 10:21 left in the game.
Harvard made an effort to pull away again, leading 53-40 at the 8:14 mark. But that lead was whittled back to seven. Junior Sarah Bucar hit a jumper and sophomore Caroline Nicholson and senior Anca Popovici each hit a pair of free throws just 12 seconds apart from each other. The 7-0 stretch had the Quakers within 53-46 with 6:42 to go.
Unfortunately, a variety of defenses wasn't enough to stop the Ivy League's top offense. Harvard got its lead back up to 13, 63-50 to put the game out of reach in the closing minutes.
Scott was second on the team with seven points, while Lackner tied a career high as she led the Quakers with six rebounds in addition to five points. Sophomore Erin Power had a team-best four assists as Penn had 15 assists on 19 baskets.
Next weekend the Quakers hit the road again. Penn will be in New Haven, Conn., on Friday to take on Yale at 7 p.m. The next night, the Quakers meet Brown in Providence for a 7 p.m. start.
Download: Rave Report.pdf