PHILADELPHIA - A monstrous run early in the game cost the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team a chance to knock off an Ivy power Saturday night in a 66-40 loss to Harvard at The Palestra.
Once again, the Quakers (1-18, 0-5 Ivy) were doomed by a slow start. Harvard (12-7, 3-2 Ivy) went on an early 19-0 run and despite a first-half run by the Quakers, the Crimson pulled away in the second half.
For the third straight contest, the Quakers never led as Harvard scored first. On the ensuing possession, junior Caroline Nicholson tied the game with an easy lay-in off of a nice pass from sophomore Jess Knapp. That bucket came at the 18:55 mark and Penn would only manage a Nicholson free throw over the next ten minutes when junior Jerin Smith found the bottom of the basket with a baseline jumper. That broke a 22-1 Harvard run and the Quakers trailed 24-5 with 8:38 to go in the half.
As usual, Penn made its own run to get back into the game, relying mostly on a strong defensive effort. The Red and Blue held Harvard to just one basket over the next eight minutes. Meanwhile, Penn went on a 14-2 streak and found itself down just nine, 26-17, two minutes before intermisson. Four different Quakers scored during the run and Smith capped it off with an offensive rebound and put back.
But Harvard scored with a minute remaining and hit a three as time expired to go into the locker room up 31-17.
Knapp's three-point play got Penn within 33-20, but Harvard went on another huge run, scoring 16 of the next 18 points to take its biggest lead to that point, 49-22 with 12:45 remaining. Harvard led by as many as 28 points and shared baskets with Penn for the remainder of the game.
The Quakers were led by a career-high eight points Jourdan Banks and also got eight points from Smith. Banks went 6-for-6 from the free throw line and made her only shot attempt from the field. Knapp and senior Catilin Slover led the way with six rebounds apiece, while Knapp added a team-best three blocks and Slover led the squad with three assists. Freshman Brianna Bradford had a career-high four points which all came during an 8-3 Penn stretch midway through the second half. She also added a rebound, an assist and her first career block.
The Quakers were shut out from beyond the arc, going 0-for-15 from three-point range. They were 14-of-51 (28%) from the field for the game. Though the Red and Blue once again got a healthy contribution from the bench with 24 of the team's 40 points.
After 68 straight days in the city of Brotherly Love, the Quakers will leave Philadelphia to take on Cornell in Ithaca on Friday and will then head to New York City to play Columbia on Saturday. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.