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March Total: 1
Season Total: 35
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A valiant comeback attempt fell short for the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team Saturday night. On the road, the Quakers cut a 20-point deficit down to six before they ultimately fell to Harvard, 67-54, Saturday night at Lavietes Pavilion.
Penn, which had won six straight for the first time in eight years, lost for the first time since Feb. 9 and for just the second time since Jan. 23. The Quakers (15-10) are now 8-3 in Ivy play and in a dead heat for second in the league standings with Harvard (17-8). The second-place team automatically qualifies for the WNIT. Both teams now trail first-place Princeton by two games with three games to play.
It was Senior Night for the Crimson, who finished the season unbeaten at home, and the night prior, Harvard stopped Princeton's Ivy League-record 33-game winning streak. All that momentum clearly carried over. The Crimson set the tone at the start with the game's first seven points.
Penn got on the board with a nice move underneath by sophomore Kara Bonenberger. However, Harvard scored the next nine points and led 16-2 at the 12:17 mark.
The deficit grew steadily over the next few minutes and was capped at 20 when Harvard held a 33-13 lead with 1:23 remaining in the half.
That's when Penn's comeback began. The Quakers scored eight points over the final 1:06. Senior captain Brianna Bradford drained a three and then freshman Keiera Ray's full court pressure forced a steal and uncontested lay up. After Ray forced another steal, she converted an old-fashioned three-point play to close the gap to 33-21 at the half.
Harvard led 39-25 with 17:39 to play when Penn made another big run. Ray squeezed in a layup between two baskets from Bonenberger to get within single digits, 39-31. After a three from Harvard, Bradford answered with her second three of the night and when Ray converted a fastbreak layup, it was a six-point game. In all, it was an 11-3 run to get within 42-36 with 12:32 to go.
However, that was as close as the Quakers would get. The deficit grew back to 11 and the teams shared baskets over the next seven minutes. Penn was within nine, 52-43, but a long scoring drought ended Penn's last threat. The Quakers went four minutes without a basket and found themselves down 61-43 with just 3:39 to go.
Four Quakers finished in double figures. Bonenberger and junior captain Alyssa Baron were each two rebounds shy of a double-double. Bonenberger had 10 points and Baron finished with 13. Ray had a team-high 14 points and a career-high six steals - the most for a Quaker since Meghan McCullough had as many in a win over Columbia on Feb. 12, 2011. Bradford was in double figures for the second straight night with 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range.
For the night, Penn was just 18-of-60 (30.0%) from the field, including 5-of-25 (20.0%) from three. Harvard was 24-of-53 (45.3%) overall and 5-of-15 (33.3%) from three. The Quakers had just three assists and turned the ball over 14 times. Penn was also outrebounded, 40-34.
Penn returns home for the final three games of the season. The Quakers host Brown on Friday and Yale on Saturday. The regular season finale is Tuesday, March 12 in a doubleheader with the men against Princeton, which will mark Senior Day for captains Katie Davis and Brianna Bradford.