PHILADELPHIA - A strong second half comeback fell short for the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team at The Palestra Wednesday night as Lafayette held on for the win, 62-56.
The Quakers (0-6) got off to a great start. Though the Leopards (2-6) took a preliminary 6-4 lead at the 17:26 mark, Penn went on a 9-0 run for its largest lead of the season. Sophomore Jess Knapp, who had the first five points of the game for the Quakers, started the run with a free throw. Junior Sarah Bucar then scored the game's next eight points. She sandwiched a layup between two three-pointers and gave Penn a 13-6 lead with 14:17 to go in the half.
Lafayette chipped away at the Penn advantage, tying the game at 15-15 at the nine-minute mark. The Quakers would not regain the lead again. A jumper from sophomore Kim Adams and a put-back by Bucar were the only field goals the Red and Blue could muster the rest of the half. Lafayette closed out the first 20 minutes on a 15-6 run, including the final six points, for a 30-21 edge at intermission.
The start of the second half did not start as well as the first for Penn. Lafayette's lead grew to 39-25 six minutes into the half and was 43-29 near the midway point.
But Penn wouldn't go down without a fight. The Quakers made their run. Bucar and Knapp both made a free throw apiece, then Bucar scored two of her career-high 25 points on a layup to close the deficit to 10. A jumper by sophomore Caroline Nicholson got the Lafayette lead into single digits.
On the next possession, the Leopards hit a three to go up 46-35 with 8:20 to play, but Penn went on another quick run, scoring eight straight points. Bucar had back-to-back buckets to cap the streak and pull Penn within 46-43 with 6:37 to play.
However, Lafayette scored seven straight to regain momentum and held on from there. Penn got the defecit down to 56-51 with a minute remaining and forced a turnover. But the Quakers turned the ball over themselves and the Leopards sealed the game, keeping the Quakers at bay, making all six of their free throws down the stretch.
Penn had one of its best games statistically. The Red and Blue outrebounded Lafayette, 40-34, had fewer turnovers (13 to Lafayette's 15) and tied a season high with nine steals. Penn also had a season high 17 offensive rebounds. However, the Quakers shot just 16-of-53 (30.2%) from the floor and were only 19-of-32 (59.4%) from the free throw line. In comparison, Lafayette shot 20-of-48 (41.7%) and were an impressive 20-of-23 (87%) at the line.
Bucar went 4-for-9 from three-point range and added three assists, four rebounds and three steals to her career scoring number. She played the entire contest for the fourth time this season. Knapp also set a career high with her 13 points while adding six rebounds and two blocks. Nicholson led the team with seven boards. Adams nearly became the third Quaker in double digits with her nine points as she also added five rebounds in playing 31 minutes off the bench. Senior Caitlin Slover contributed five rebounds and three steals in addition to her three points.
The Quakers return to action this weekend when they head to Annapolis, Md., to take on Navy. Tip-off with the Midshipmen is at 2 p.m.
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