PRINCETON, N.J. - It was a game that defined the season for the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team Tuesday night. In the season finale, the Quakers got off toa slow start and dug themselves a deep hole. But theycontinued to fight - battling all the wayback from a 36-point deficit to put a scare into archrival Princeton on its home floor. ButPenncouldn't blemishthe Tigers'undefeated Ivyrecord as they fell, 68-51,at Jadwin Gymnasium.
Down by 36 points with 14 minutes remaining, Penn rallied to within 11 at the two-minute mark behind sophomore Jess Knapp's double-double. But the Quakers, whostarted the game just 1-for-20 (5.0%)from the field, finished the year at 2-26 overall and 1-13 in the Ivy League. Princeton (26-2, 14-0)will represent the Ivy League in the NCAA Tournament as they finish the regular season on a 21-game winning streakand claim the league title with the first undefeated Ivy season since Harvard went 14-0 in 2002-03.
Princeton scored the first six points of the game before Knapp put Penn on the board with a deep jumper at the 16:16 mark of the first half. The Quakers then missed their next 15 shots as the Tigers built a 17-2 lead - similar to its 18-1 start at The Palestra earlier this season.
Junior Kim Adams made a free throw to breakan eight-minute scoreless streak. Luckily, the defense had held the Ivy League's top offense in check for the first 14 minutes. So when the Red and Blue went on a 6-0 run, capped by Knapp's lay-in, Penn was down just 10 with five minutes left before the half.
Junior Jerin Smith scored the final six points of the half for Penn, butthe Tigers scored 13 pointsin the meantime, going into the half with a 32-15 edge - much liketheir 36-17 halftime lead in the same building last year.
The second half looked promising as the Quakers scored five of the firstseven points on a three from senior Amy Donovan and a layup by senior Caitlin Slover. But Princeton's offense finally came to life with an 18-0 run. At its end, the Tigers led 52-20 with 14:05 to go.
The lead grew to 58-22 with 11:22 left,but Penn continued to do what it had done all year. They refused to let up anddid not go down without a fight.Over the next nine minutes, they torched the Tigers on both ends of the court.
On the next four possessions: Knapp made a free throw, sophomore Sara Ely hit a three and senior Sarah Bucarhitback-to-back jumpers. The 8-0 run pulledthe deficit to 58-30 with 9:51 remaining.
Princeton scored to go up 60-30, but the Quakers went on an 18-0 run to get within 60-48 with 3:08 left. Knapp and Bucar each had seven points during the streak, while freshman Brianna Bradford had the other four.
Princeton finally scored again to go ahead, 62-48, but Ely hit another three and it was an 11-point deficit with 2:07 remaining. In all, it was a 29-4 run for Penn. But Princeton scored the game's final seven points to hold on.
Penn finished the first half 5-of-33 from the field(15.2%), but finished the game 19-for-65 (29.2%).The Tigers finishe 24-for-69 (34.8%) from the field. Penn had 11 assists to just 12 turnovers, while forcing 12 Tigers turnovers. Princeton won the rebounding battle, 53-45.
Knapp led thethe team with 12 points and 11 rebounds, in additionto her team-high four assists.Bucar almost equaled Knapp's double-doublewith 11 points andeight rebounds in her final game in a Redand Blue uniform. Also, playing in their final games,Slover finished with two points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal, while Donovan had three points, a rebound, a blockand a steal.
Tuesday's contest marked the final game of the 2009-10 season.
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