PHILADELPHIA - Despite holding the lead midway through the second half on Senior Night, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team fell short of Cornell, 60-42, Saturday night at The Palestra.
With both teams relying on a strong defensive effort, Cornell was just a little bit better. Penn (1-24, 0-11 Ivy) had only nine turnovers, but shot just 28 percent from the floor (16-of-58). The Big Red (7-18, 2-10 Ivy) on the other hand, had 16 turnovers, but shot 43.1 percent (22-of-51).
Cornell scored seven of the game's first nine points. The teams then shared baskets for most of the half. Cornell never led by more then six and Penn was never within three until the final three minutes.
That's when junior Jerin Smith tallied back-to-back lay ups to get the deficit to 16-14. Cornell scored on its next possession, but then freshman Brianna Bradford hit a wide open three from the near corner. On Penn's next trip, senior Amy Donovan drained a 23-foot three to give Penn its first lead, 20-18, which they took to the locker room.
There were five lead changes in a wild second half. Cornell took the lead back on its first possession with a three. The Quakers then responded with six straight points for their largest lead of the game, 26-21 with 16:46 left. It didn't last long. Less than two minutes later the game was tied, and Cornell took the lead back on its next possession.
A short while later, senior Caitlin Slover put Penn back on top. Her three gave the Quakers a 31-30 edge with just more than 12 minutes remaining.
But Cornell finally found some breathing room as Penn went on a lengthy scoring drought. The Big Red went on a 17-6 run for a 48-36 lead with 3:55 to play and Penn was never again within single digits.
The three seniors each played well. Donovan finished with five points and led the team with three assists while adding five rebounds. Slover had eight points and a team-high four steals in addition to her five rebounds and two assists. Sarah Bucar, the Ivy League leader in minutes played, logged 38 minutes leading the point. She tallied an assist, a rebound and two steals.
Junior Jerin Smith led the Quakers with 10 points and added six rebounds. Knapp had 10 of Penn's 32 rebounds. Sophomore Caroline Nicholson led the team with two blocks while adding four points. Freshman Brianna Bradford had another impressive game with nine points off the bench as well as two rebounds and an assist.
Penn's three seniors - Sarah Bucar, Amy Donovan and Caitlin Slover - were all honored before the game and were in the starting five. All three were taken out to a standing ovation in the final minute.
Penn plays its final three games on the road. First is a trip up north to Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend before playing at archrival Princeton on March 9.