PHILADELPHIA--The Penn women’s basketball team battled back in the second half but could not overcome Big 5 rival La Salle and fell in its home opener, 73-63, at The Palestra Tuesday night. The Quakers suffered their first loss of the season to set their record at 2-1. La Salle remained undefeated at 4-0.
Seniors Monica Naltner and Lauren Pears marked career nights, but it was not enough to overcome a strong La Salle team. Naltner put up 22 points, beating her previous best of 19. Pears scored 19 points to set her career high; she also had five assists and three steals. Sophomore Carrie Biemer also scored in double digits, with 11.
The Ivy League’s Player of the Week, Naltner, outdid the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week and Explorers’ top scorer Christa Ricketts who scored 21 points. However, Ricketts registered a double-double with 11 rebounds. Two other La Salle players scored in double digits. As a team, La Salle shot 57.4 percent from the field and 76.5 percent from the line.
Penn had its only leads of the game early in the first half. The first came at 4-2 when Pears stole the ball and ran it in to take a two-point lead at 16:44. La Salle responded with a three-pointer, but Pears made another lay-up at 15:49 to put the Quakers up by one. That was the last the Quakers saw of the lead, however, as they trailed 38-27 heading into the locker room at the half.
Penn climbed back into contention in the second with 8-0 and 9-1 runs, and pulled within two with 5:04 remaining. La Salle began to pull away again, but Biemer cut the Explorers lead to six with a lay-up with one minute remaining. Naltner then swiped the ball on the inbounds and dished it to Biemer, who lined up for a three but had the ball swatted away.
With the clock quickly ticking down, Penn had no choice but to stop the clock with fouls. La Salle’s efficient shooting from the line set the final score at 73-63.
Penn will continue its three-game homestand on Wednesday, Nov. 29 when it tips off with Delaware at 7 p.m. at The Palestra.