PHILADELPHIA - In a predictably low-scoring affair between two of the Ivy League's top defenses, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team was shut down in a 51-37 loss to Dartmouth Friday night at The Palestra.
Senior Amy Donovan scored a season-high nine points to lead Penn, while junior Caroline Nicholson added eight points and a career-high four blocks for the Quakers (1-17, 0-4 Ivy). Dartmouth (8-10, 3-1 Ivy) held Penn to just 14 first-half points and kept the Red and Blue under 40 points for the third straight meeting.
Dartmouth scored first and never trailed. The Big Green had the game's first nine points as Donovan had Penn's first bucket at the 16:31 mark.
Dartmouth led 12-3 when Nicholson drained a three from the top of the key. A few moments later, Donovan hit a baseline jumper to close the deficit to 12-8 with 13:36 left in the first half.
When a Dartmouth three-pointer broke a 4:59 streak without a field goal, the lead was 16-8 near the midway point of the half. The defenses then took over until the final three minutes. With Penn trailing 18-12, Dartmouth scored 10 of the final 12 points in those closing minutes to take a heavy advantage into the locker room, 28-14.
Penn was just 1-for-10 from three-point range in the first half and missed two more in the early stages of the second half. Dartmouth, meanwhile, increased its lead to 32-14 in the first two and a half minutes.
But Penn's defense was phenomenal in the second half as that would be the last basket for the Big Green for the next 8:26. After a lay up from Nicholson, Donovan finally snapped Penn's woes from beyond the arc with a three and sophomore Sara Ely had a put back shortly thereafter to make the score 32-21 with 13:31 to go.
The run continued as senior Sarah Bucar hit sophomore Jess Knapp in stride for a fast-break lay up. When Dartmouth hit a pair of free throws, Bucar immediately nailed a three from the corner and Penn was down just eight, 34-26 with 9:30 remaining.
Finally, the Big Green scored another basket to go up 10 - it was their only basket over a period of 12:21 as they did not score for the next four minutes. But Penn couldn't capitalize against a strong defensive unit from Dartmouth. The Quakers were within nine, 39-30 with just over six minutes left, but despite not making anything from the field, the Big Green were scoring from the free throw line. They made 11-of-13 (84.6%) in the second half and extended their lead to 45-30 with 4:35 remaining.
Penn scored the next four, but wouldn't get any closer. Dartmouth pulled away for its fifth straight win over the Quakers.
Behind Donovan and Nicholson, Ely had six points for Penn as the Red and Blue got 23 of their 37 points from the bench. Among the starters, Knapp led the way with six points and a team-best seven rebounds. Nicholson was second on the team with five boards. Bucar led the way with four of Penn's eight assists.
The Quakers shot 28.8 percent (15-for-52), and held Dartmouth to just 30.8 percent (16-for-52). Though Penn forced 18 Big Green turnovers, the Quakers' offense was just 3-for-25 (12.0%) from three.
Penn is back on the floor Saturday night at 7 p.m., hosting Harvard.