Women's Basketball Loses on Last-Second Three, 52-51

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Highlights:
Bradford Gives Penn the Lead | Niagara's Game-Winner | Baron's Buzzer Beater

PHILADELPHIA - Leading by two with the clock winding down, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team couldn't stop Niagara from draining the game-winning three with six seconds left. Freshman Alyssa Baron's runner as time expired went off the back rim and Penn fell, 52-51, Tuesday afternoon at The Palestra.

With Penn leading by one, Niagara tied the game with a free throw at the 2:17 mark. However, sophomore Brianna Bradford buried a three with 1:03 left and Penn led 50-47. Niagara hit two free throws on its next possession to cut the lead to one.

On Penn's possession, Baron was fouled with 17 seconds to play and hit the first free throw. That gave the Quakers a 51-49 lead, but the second attempt went bouncing off the rim and Niagara's Kayla Stroman hit the three to give the Purple Eagles the lead with six seconds remaining.

There were six ties and the lead exchanged hands five times in the first half. Niagara (1-5) scored seven of the first nine points to take the early lead, but three straight scores - a layup by Jess Knapp, followed by a three from Meghan McCullough and a put-back by Knapp - gave the Quakers their first lead at 9-7 at the 15:42 mark.

The Purple Eagles retook the lead and had a 16-13 advantage after a pair of free throws near the midway point of the half. A jumper by Baron and two free throws by Knapp gave the Quakers a 17-16 edge, but Niagara responded with four straight of their own and were back up three with 6:49 left before intermission.

The lead changed hands just once more as Penn (2-3) scored the next six and 11 of the next 13 to hold its largest lead of the opening half, 28-22, with 1:37 left. The Red and Blue maintained that lead to the halftime buzzer and led 32-26 at intermission.

It was a rough start for the Quakers in the second half as they turned the ball over on four of their first five possessions. Niagara capitalized - scoring the first nine points of the half.

Knapp broke the Penn drought with a set of free throws, but the Quakers didn't make their first basket of the half until Baron hit a long two from the corner with 13:50 to play. Erin Power then promptly intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass for a wide open layup. The series of events changed momentum and pulled Penn within one, 39-38. It was the start of an 8-0 run that wasn't broken up until a Purple Eagles fastbreak layup cut the Penn lead to 42-41 just past the halfway point of the half.

Niagara would score the next five and held a four-point lead. The deficit was whittled to two and with 5:02 to play, Baron gave the Quakers the lead back when she was fouled and made the layup. She made the ensuing free throw and Penn led once again 47-46. That's when the final sequence of events led to the late heroics for the Purple Eagles.

Penn, which lost at home for the first time this year, shot better than 40 percent in the first half, but made just 6-of-26 shot attempts (23.1%) in the second half. The Quakers outrebounded the Purple Eagles, 38-35, and forced 18 turnovers, but Niagara outscored the Red and Blue, 26-19, in the final 20 minutes.

Penn had 14 assists on 19 baskets, led by Baron's team-high four dishes and three from Power. Baron finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Knapp was in double-digits for the second time this season with a team-best 14 points. Power added eight points, three boards and a game-high three steals. Off the bench, junior Jourdan Banks had four points and six rebounds.

Next up for the Quakers is a trip to West Point, N.Y., to take on Army Saturday at 5 p.m.

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