Comeback Attempt Comes Up Short As Women's Basketball Falls at Penn, 77-72

Comeback Attempt Comes Up Short As Women's Basketball Falls at Penn, 77-72

Fagbenle turned in her fourth double-double of the year at Penn (Gil Talbot).

Philadelphia, Pa. – The Harvard women's basketball team used a 14-0 run to eliminate at 15-point deficit but came up just short in its comeback bid, falling at Penn Friday night, 77-72.

Temi Fagbenle had a big day to lead Harvard (13-7, 4-2 Ivy League) as she scored a career-best 26 points while pulling down 13 rebounds. Fagbenle connected on 11-of-14 attempts from the floor and scored 16 points after the intermission. The London, England, native has now turned in four double-doubles this season and has six double-digit rebounding performances.

Victoria Lippert moved into a tie with Christine Matera '10 for second place on Harvard's career three-pointers list as she finished her night with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting from deep. Elle Hagedorn chipped in seven points, eight rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes off the bench while Miriam Rutzen dished out a career-high seven assists to go along with six points.

The Crimson shot 46.7 percent (28-60) for the game after going 17-of-31 from the field in the second half. Penn (11-9, 4-2 Ivy League), meanwhile, shot 43.3 percent (26-60) but outscored Harvard 17-9 at the line. Keiera Ray led all scorers with 31 points while going 14-of-20 from the charity stripe.

Harvard found itself playing from behind for a good portion of the first half as Penn opened a 6-2 lead out of the gates. A reverse layup from Fagbenle and three-pointer from Erin McDonnell gave the Crimson a brief lead, 7-6, before the Quakers answered back with a pair of baskets in the paint for a 10-7 advantage. Victoria Lippert evened the score at 10 with Harvard's second make from beyond the arc but Penn responded with a 7-2 stretch to take a five-point margin, 17-12.

Harvard was able to retie the score off a pair of Fagbenle free throws and an Hagedorn triple and went back on top as Fagbenle drove to the hoop uncontested, 21-19. Three-pointers from Keiera Ray and Brianna Bradford, however, put the lead back in the Quakers hands, 25-22, and a fastbreak layup from Ray made it a 27-22 game. Another three from Ray pushed the deficit to eight points, 30-22.

The Crimson came alive late and closed out the half on a 7-2 run to go into the locker room trailing by only three, 34-31. Emma Golen opened the stretch with a short jumper which was followed by Lippert's second trey of the frame and a putback by Fagbenle. The sophomore led all scorers at the break with 10 points on 4-of-5 from the floor as Harvard combining to shoot just 37.9 percent (11-29) against a 45.2 percent (14-31) performance by the Quakers.

Despite its strong finish to the first half, Harvard opened the second half slowly and fell behind by as many as 10 points, 43-33. The Crimson began chipping away at the lead with yet another three from Lippert, and trailed by five following a layup from Hagedorn, 45-40. A three from Fagbenle made it a two-point game, 45-43, but Penn scored nine unanswered points to open a 54-43 margin. A basket by Ray and two buckets by Alyssa Baron gave the Quakers their largest lead of the night, 60-45, with 9:25 remaining.

With 8:30 to play and Penn holding onto the same margin, Harvard embarked on a 14-0 run to cut its deficit to one, 63-62, with 3:39 on the clock. Fagbenle scored seven points during the stretch, including each of the last two baskets, as the Crimson shot 6-of-8 from the floor while holding Penn to 0-of-7 shooting and forcing two turnovers.

A pair of Ray free throws ended the Quakers drought and Kathleen Roche pushed Penn's lead out to 68-62 with a shot from deep. Lippert responded with her fourth three-pointer to again make it a three-point game, 68-65, and a putback by Fagbenle brought the Crimson to within two, 72-70. Penn, however, hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 0:31 to hold on for a 77-72 victory.

Game Notes: Victoria Lippert moved into a tie with Christine Matera '10 for second place on Harvard's career three-point list … Temi Fagbenle's 26 points were the most for a member of the Crimson since Brogan Berry '12 scored 26 at Hofstra in the first round of last year's WNIT … Harvard's loss snaps a 17-game win streak for the Crimson over Penn and is its first defeat at the Palestra since 2001.