PHILADELPHIA - Another late lead for the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team was foiled as La Salle hit the game winning three with 2.3 seconds left to win 61-58 in a Big 5 matchup at The Palestra Monday night.
Senior Carrie Biemer's 26 points weren't enough to hold off the late surge in which the Explorers scored the game's final 12 points. Penn held a 58-49 advantage with 2:54 left, but La Salle whittled down the lead, tying the Quakers at 58-58 on two free throws with 42 seconds left.
After the Quakers' missed a jumper on the next possession, the Explorers called for a timeout with just under eight seconds left. La Salle got the ball to their top scorer - Ashley Gale - who buried the three from beyond the men's three-point line on the wing. Gale finished with 20 points, including 4-of-10 from three-point range.
The Red and Blue got a quick taste of their own medicine early on. Just three days after jumping on top of Temple with some hot shooting at the start of the game, the Explorers duplicated that feat against the Quakers. La Salle made each of its first five shots and eight of the first 10 for a quick 19-8 lead seven minutes in.
Penn has the second ranked defense in the Ivy League for a reason though. The Quakers buckled down, forcing the Explorers into 10 straight missed shots and holding them scoreless for the next 8:05. In that time, Penn scored 13 points of its own, capped by senior Kelly Scott's step back foul line jumper for a 21-19 lead.
Sophomore forward Caroline Nicholson then hit her first collegiate three-point basket between two La Salle threes as the Explorers led 25-24 with 3:20 left in the half. La Salle would eventually take a 30-26 lead at the break.
Penn dominated the start of the second half. Biemer scored 13 straight and the Quakers defense held La Salle to just one basket for the first eight minutes. In all, it was a 17-2 run that gave Penn its largest lead of the night at 43-32.
Scott, who would finish the game with 19 points for the second straight contest, kept Penn ahead, thwarting several La Salle runs. She converted a three-point play when the Explorers had closed to within seven with 10 minutes to go. Then, four minutes later, with the Penn advantage down to three, she hit a three from the wing to push it to a two possession game.
The teams alternated buckets for the next three minutes before La Salle made its run.
Sophomore Erin Power was tops among the Quakers with seven rebounds as Penn outrebounded La Salle 37-24. The Quakers recorded assists on 16 of their 22 baskets with Power collecting a game-high eight dishes. Penn shot over 50 percent (11-for-21) in the second half and made 10 of their 13 free throw attempts in the game.
Penn will have to regroup quickly as the Ivy League season is set to begin Saturday. The Quakers travel to rival Princeton to take on the Tigers at 6 p.m.
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