PHILADELPHIA - An early deficit was erased in the second half by the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team, but Harvard outlasted the Quakers, 72-63 Friday night at The Palestra.
Harvard (9-7, 1-1 Ivy) built a lead as large as 10 in the second half, but Penn (3-13, 0-2 Ivy) battled back and even took a brief lead before the Crimson pulled away late.
Three Quakers scored in double figures as Penn got off to a hot start, hitting four of its first five shots. When sophomore Erin Power connected on a layup just before the game's first media timeout, the Red and Blue held an 8-2 lead.
Harvard scored 13 of the game's next 17 points for its first lead, 15-12, nine minutes into the game.They held the lead for the rest of the half with the Quakers within two after junior Caitlin Slover's fastbreak layup with 2:17 remaining. The final six points of the half went to the Crimson, though, and they took a 34-26 lead at the half.
Two quick baskets gave Harvard its 10-point lead. Penn would not surrender without a fight. A 10-2 run had the Quakers back within two at 40-38 with 13:09 left. With Penn down 45-41 three minutes later, senior Anca Popovici knocked down a three, accounting for half of her six points, to close the gap to one. On Penn's next possession, senior Carrie Biemer, who scored 14 of her game-high 22 points in the second half, duplicated Popovici's feat with a three of her own for a 47-45 Quaker advantage.
Harvard scored the next seven for a five-point edge, and when the lead was quickly cut back to two, the Crimson went on an 12-2 run for their largest lead, 64-53 with 2:39 left.
Seemingly out of reach, Penn made another run. Senior Kelly Scott and Biemer hit back-to-back threes to close within five, 64-59, with 1:12 left. After two Harvard free throws, Biemer hit yet another three and Penn was down just four with 52 seconds left. However, Harvard preceeded and followed an empty Penn possession with two made free throws each to put the game out of reach.
Scott and Slover scored 10 and 11 points, respectively, to join Biemer in double digits. It was the first time all season the Quakers had three players in double figures. Slover and Biemer also led the team in rebounding with five each, while Power had a team-high four assists and three steals.
The Quakers meet Dartmouth Saturday night at The Palestra. Tip-off with the Big Green is at 7 p.m. Dartmouth is coming off a three-point overtime win over Princeton on Friday.