NEW YORK, N.Y. - Despite holding a late first-half lead, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team couldn't hold off the charging Columbia Lions Saturday night in a 71-58 defeat at Levien Gymnasium.
Down 19 with just over 11 minutes to go, the Quakers (1-20, 0-7 Ivy) shot 66.7 percent (12-of-18) from the floor and were 13-of-16 (81.3%) from the free throw line in the second half as a furious comeback cut the deficit to just four before the Lions (14-8, 5-3 Ivy) hung on to win.
Penn got off to a good start, scoring the game's first five points. Sophomore Caroline Nicholson swished her shot from just beyond the free throw line and on the next time down the floor, senior Caitlin Slover hit a three from the top of the key.
Columbia went on to score the next eight, but the Quakers got five more in a row to regain the lead. With the game tied at 10-10 midway through the opening half, the teams shared baskets and exchanged the lead four times. The Quakers had a 17-16 advantage at the 5:55 mark after sophomore Sara Ely drove the lane and pushed in a layup.
However, the Lions went on a 10-0 run and scored 14 of the last 16 points in the half. Junior Jerin Smith had Penn's only basket in that time to get the Red and Blue within 28-19, but the hosts scored just before the halftime buzzer for a 30-19 lead at the break.
Shortly into the second half, Penn cut the defecit to single digits. But five minutes into the half, Columbia led 39-29 and went on an 11-2 run to go up 19 at the 11:35 mark.
That's when the Quakers hit their stride. Penn went on an 11-0 run in just two minutes. When Slover capped the run with a three, Penn was down just 50-42. A few minutes later, down nine, 59-50, freshman Brianna Bradford went coast-to-coast, hit the layup, was fouled and made the free throw. After a defensive stop, Slover hit two free throws and it was just a four-point game with 5:06 to go. But Penn made just one basket the rest of the way and Columbia pulled away for the win.
Slover led the team with a career high 22 points. She went 6-of-10 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, and 7-for-9 from the free throw line. In addition, Slover led the team with six rebounds and added two assists and two steals.
Junior Kim Adams was second on the team with eight points and three assists. Sophomore Jess Knapp added seven points and four boards, while Smith had six points and two rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.
In the game, Penn shot a season-best 45.5 percent (20-of-44), were 4-for-12 (33.3%) from three and 14-for-17 (82.4%) from the charity stripe. Columbia was nearly as good, going 24-for-55 (43.6%) from the field. Though the Quakers outrebounded the Lions-which included the nation's leading rebounder in Judie Lomax - but Penn turned the ball over 23 times.
The Quakers are on the road again next week when they travel to Brown on Friday and Yale on Saturday. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.