PHILADELPHIA - A remarkable second half string of six-straight Columbia three-pointers buried the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team Saturday night as the Lions defeated the Quakers, 80-61, at The Palestra in front of a Pink Zone crowd of 575.
Behind a career day from freshman Brianna Bradford, the Quakers (1-23, 0-10 Ivy) had their best offensive day of the season with the 61 points. Bradford led the way with 15 of those - a career high. However, Columbia (16-9, 7-4 Ivy) became the first team to surpass the 80-point mark against the Quakers this season.
Though the game was riddled with turnovers - 26 combined in the first half alone - both offenses set the tone early. Junior Jerin Smith got Penn's first bucket to tie the game at 2-2, Columbia then rattled off five quick points, and sophomore Sara Ely hit a three - all within the first three minutes as the Lions led 7-5.
The Lions continued to score, but Penn stalled. Columbia went on a 10-2 run over the next six minutes. Bradford helped the Quakers close the gap. She hit a three from the top of the key, and moments later, drove the lane and dished to a wide open Caroline Nicholson as Penn got within 19-14 with 7:33 left in the first half.
Abruptly, the Lions scored seven in a row and held a 26-14 advantage less than two minutes later. The deficit grew to 14, but in the final minute of the half, Caitlin Slover and Bradford hit back-to-back threes to bring the Lions' halftime lead to just 35-27.
Each offense started well again. Each team scored on its first three possessions of the second half and the Quakers were down 42-33 with 17:52 to go. That's when the Lions went on their incredible run. Over the next six possessions, they took six three-point attempts and made every single one. When the spree mercifully came to an end, the Lions were in complete command, 60-37 at the 13:57 mark. The Columbia lead didn't fluctuate much after that. They never led by more than 25, but Penn was never within 20 until freshman Rebecca Lau's layup with 49 seconds remaining.
Penn shot well as a team, going 23-of-58 (39.7%) from the floor and outscored Columbia 30-14 in the paint. For the fifth straight game, the Quakers shot 75 percent or better from the free throw line, making 9-of-12 (75%).
However, Columbia was on fire throughout the night. They shot nearly 50 percent from the field (28-of-57) and were an amazing from the three-point line, connecting on 12-of-20 attempts - a 60 percent clip.
Penn held the nation's leading rebounder, Judie Lomax, to just four rebounds - nearly 10 below her season average. Slover led the Quakers on the boards with five as she was the other Quaker in double digits with 10 points. Senior Amy Donovan and sophomore Jess Knapp each grabbed four rebounds. Knapp also had eight points as all 12 Quakers either scored or had a rebound. Slover also led the team with six assists, followed by three from Bucar.
As part of the Penn's annual Pink Zone initiative to raise money and awareness toward the fight against breast cancer, the Penn players donned pink warm-ups. They also wore pink shoelaces and, in addition, pink whistles were used by the referees during the game. All fans were given pink pom-poms as they entered the game.
Penn returns to action Saturday night for its final game at The Palestra this season. It's Senior Day for three Quakers who will play in the final home game of their careers - Amy Donovan, Sarah Bucar and CaitLlin Slover.