ITHACA, N.Y. - A second-half barrage of threes catapulted Cornell into the lead and they held off the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team in the closing minutes as the Quakers fell 59-52 to the Big Red at Newman Arena Friday night.
In a game where the lead changed hands 14 times, sophomore Jourdan Banks led the Quakers with 13 points and seven rebounds - both career highs. Penn (1-19, 0-6 Ivy) trailed by just three with 30 seconds remaining, but Cornell (6-14, 1-6 Ivy) made four free throws down the stretch to pull out the win.
Penn's defense played well in the first half. Cornell had just two points five minutes into the contest and the Quakers led 5-2 after senior Sarah Bucar hit a three. The Big Red then scored on back-to-back possessions to take the lead back, but Penn responded with the next five, capped by a three from senior Caitlin Slover.
The game went back-and-forth throughout the first half with neither team leading by more than three points at any point. Shortly after Cornell went up 20-19 with 1:45 to go in the half, sophomore Sara Ely hit a baseline jumper in the final minute to give Penn its first halftime lead since Dec. 31 against St. Francis (N.Y.).
It would be the first loss in the last six games in which the Quakers held the lead at the break. But it didn't come without a fight. Penn held its advantage until the first storm of threes rained on the Red and Blue. After tying the game at 23-23 at the 17:05 mark, Cornell's next four baskets were all three-pointers.
During that barrage, Penn did its best to keep pace. Junior Kim Adams hit two free throws, Ely hit a three, Banks got a fast break layup and senior Amy Donovan drained another three for the Quakers. So after Cornell's last make from beyond the arc, the Quakers trailed by just one, 35-34 with 10:56 remaining.
In fact, Penn scored on its next two possessions and held a 38-35 lead with 9:39 left. But Cornell went on a quick 10-0 run, which included another dagger three to give the Big Red a 45-38 edge just two minutes later.
The Quakers' deficit grew to 10, 54-44 with just under three minutes left. But two free throws from Adams and a baseline jumper from Banks got Penn within six. After a steal in the backcourt by Bucar and her ensuing jumper, it was a four-point game with 1:49 to go.
Cornell hit one of two free throws. Donovan then had a wide-open layup after a good entry pass from Slover to make it a one-possession game. However, after the Big Red hit one of two free throws again, Donovan missed a jumper, Cornell grabbed the rebound and iced the game from the free throw line.
Behind Banks' career night, Donovan and Slover each added seven points and Bucar had nine. Knapp had six rebounds and a collegiate-best five blocks to go along with her five points. Bucar dished five assists and Slover matched a career high with four as Penn had 15 assists on 18 baskets.
Cornell, which was held under 30 percent shooting in the first half, finished at 34.5 percent (20-of-58), while Penn was 18-of-55 (32.7%). The difference was from the three-point arc.Cornell made 6-of-15 (40.0%) and Penn was just 4-for-17 (23.5%).
Once again, Penn's bench played a significant role, scoring nearly half of the team's point total and outscoring the Big Red bench, 25-10.
The Quakers won't have too much time to dwell on the loss, they are back in action tomorrow night at Columbia. Tip off from the Levien Gymnasium is at 7 p.m.