The University of Pennsylvania Women’s team held a 46 – 45 lead with 4:41 left to play, but scored only two more points in the game as the Quakers come up short dropping a 56 – 48 decision to the Harvard Crimson at the Palestra.
“We had them on the ropes, but we let them off,” Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin said explaining the disappointing loss. “We had unforced errors and didn’t execute well down the stretch.”
The Red and Blue jumped out to an early lead getting three baskets from beyond the arc by Freshman Guards Meghan McCullough, Alyssa Baron, and Junior Forward Jess Knapp. The trey by Knapp gave Penn at 15 – 4 lead with 15:29 remaining in the half. After Harvard cut the lead to 5 at the 13:25 mark, Penn scored 6 straight, 4 by Knapp, to regain the 11 point edge at 21 – 10 with 8:50 to play. The Penn defense limited Harvard to 29% shooting (7 – 24) and forced 10 turnovers. The Quakers went into the locker room leading 30 – 22 as they made 12 of 24 from the floor for 50%, 3 of 7 from distance.
The Crimson started the second half by scoring the first 5 points in the first minute to pull to within three at 32 – 29. Baron answered for Penn with 6 straight points. Her streak gave Penn a 36 – 29 cushion at the 16:20 mark. Harvard charged back to cut the Penn lead to 36 – 34 with 14:11 on the clock. The lead lasted until there was 10:18 to play when Harvard Guard Christine Matera hit a three to tie the game at 39. Sophomore Guard Brianna Bradford countered with a three to give the lead back to the Red and Blue. It would be tight the rest of the way.
A basket by Harvard Guard Jasmine Evans tied the game at 45 at the 4:50 mark. After a Penn turnover another basket by Evans gave the Crimson their first lead of the game 47 – 46 with 3:50 on the clock. After a timeout Knapp was tied up. The ensuing jump ball call gave the ball to Harvard.
“The key play was when they forced us into a jump ball coming off a timeout,” said McLaughlin. “You have to make a better play in that situation.”
Penn scored just 18 points in the second half and had 13 turnovers in the half. Harvard out-scored Penn 7 – 2 over the last 1:40.
“In the first half we had a better flow,” McLaughlin said. “We got bogged down in the second half. We are not good in the half court, and they put us in a half court game.”
Baron led all scorers with 19 points, and she had 8 rebounds. Knapp scored 12, only one in the second half as she was on the bench with foul trouble. Penn shot 4 of 26 in the second half, and 32% overall. The Quakers turned the ball over 20 times giving Harvard a 22 – 13 edge in points off turnovers in the game. In the second half Harvard had a 19 – 5 edge in the statistic as Penn committed 13 turnovers.
Forward Emma Markley and Guard Victoria Lippert led Harvard with 13 points each.
Penn is 10 – 16 for the year, 4 -8 in the Ivy League. The Quakers have lost 4 straight. Harvard improves to 17 – 9, 9 – 3 in conference. Penn prepares for a game against Dartmouth, and will end the season at home against Princeton on March 8.
Key Run of the Game
Penn led by 46 – 45 on a free throw by Baron with 4:41 on the clock. Harvard ended the game going on a 11 – 2 run on baskets by Markley, Evans and Guard Brogan Berry, then closed out the game by making 5 of 6 free throws.
Key Stat of the Game
In the second half Harvard had a 19 – 5 edge in Points Off Turnovers as Penn committed 13 turnovers in the half. Also noted was Penn made 4 of 26 shots in the second half, 15.4%.
Key Players in the Game
For Penn – Alyssa Baron who scored a game-high 19 points, pulled down 8 rebounds, and made 7 of 10 free throws.
For Harvard – Victoria Lippert with 13 points making 3 of 5 three-point shots, 4 of 4 free throws, and grabbing 6 rebounds.
Point Where the Game Was Decided
Harvard increased their lead to 7 points at 55 – 48 with 53 seconds remaining. Penn would get no closer than 5 points.
Thoughts and Musings
Penn tends to give Harvard a tough game, but in the last three tries the Red and Blue could not get the win. Beating a post-season team will represent the next step for a Penn team. It shows improvement to explain a tough loss, rather than what happened in a blow-out. Penn will eventually get such a win, but they need more players to look to score. Alyssa Baron is a scorer, and having other players giving the defense more to think about will make her and the team better.
Written By: Glenn Papazian