PHILADELPHIA - Against the defending Patriot League champions, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team challenged Lehigh throughout much of the game, but the Mountain Hawks pulled away late for a 66-51 victory at The Palestra on Tuesday night.
Sophomore Jess Knapp had a career-high 14 rebounds for Penn (1-11) to go along with her seven points before fouling out with 1:16 to go. Lehigh (13-2) led throughout the second half en route to its eighth straight win.
Penn scored on its first two possessions, securing a quick 4-0 edge. It was a lead they would cling to over the next five minutes. It took more than three minutes before the high-scoring Mountain Hawks even got on the scoreboard. It was another two minutes before they scored another bucket, but it did give Lehigh a 5-4 lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Quakers broke their own scoreless streak to regain the lead. And though the Mountain Hawks scored the next four, Penn responded with back-to-back buckets - a deep jumper from senior Kim Adams and a straight on three from senior Sarah Bucar - to regain the lead at 11-9 with 11:22 to go in the half.
The lead exchanged hands seven times in the first half and when Adams snuck in a layup, Penn was down just two, 17-15, to the top team in the Patriot League with 6:27 left before intermission.
It was 19-17 when the Mountain Hawks started to open up a lead. They scored five straight and led by as many as nine, 30-21, before an Adams lay up ended the half at 30-23.
Penn started the second half in similar fashion to the first. The Quakers scored the first four and kept the Mountain Hawks off the board for the first three minutes, finding themselves down 30-27.
However, seven straight gave Lehigh a double-digit edge with 15:59 to play. Knapp then drained a three only to capitalize on a great pass from Bucar for a layup on the next possession. Her efforts pulled Penn within 37-32 with 15:01 remaining.
Lehigh then scored five straight points only to see Penn score five straight before Lehigh went on a 6-0 run for a 48-37 advantage. Of course, Penn then scored five in a row to pull within 48-42.
Lehigh finally started to pull away, putting together a run of 12-3 over the next four minutes and were up 60-45 with 5:04 to left in the game. Penn never got within 11 points after that.
Adams finished with a team-high 16 points and five assists, while Bucar contributed 14 points. Though the Quakers held a 47-46 rebounding advantage, Lehigh had 28 points in the paint compared to just eight for Penn. Also hurting the Quakers was an 11-for-21 (52.4%) effort from the free throw line.
On Saturday, the Quakers open Ivy play at The Palestra with long-time rival Princeton. Tip off is at 7 p.m.
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