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Erin Ladley played well on Saturday at St. Joe's, scoring 12 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out five assists against the Hawks. (Stefan Miltchev/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

The Penn women's basketball team battled a tough St. Joseph's squad on Saturday, barely losing a game that could have gone either way. Although the Hawks won, 81-75, the Quakers had a small victory by hanging tough with a team that has blown them out in previous years. Penn lost to St. Joe's 76-47 in 1999 and 69-50 in 1998. "We gave them the best game that Penn has ever given them," Penn coach Kelly Greenberg said. "I think they underestimated us. They just thought playing Penn was going to be a 'W.'" The first half began badly for the Quakers, who found themselves behind 20-4 within the first few minutes of play. Penn managed to narrow that lead to 26-15 by the 8:00 mark, to 26-21 with 4:00 left and finally to 28-23 around the three-minute mark off a basket by Erin Ladley. The Hawks then went on a run of their own, bringing the score to 32-23 with one minute left in the half. The half ended with a 10-point deficit for the Quakers at 35-25. "I was really pleased with our team's effort with the exception of the first seven minutes," Greenberg said. "For our first game, it was to be expected. St. Joe's played two exhibition games before us, and we haven't had any." The Quakers (0-1, 0-1 Big 5) began the second half of play much stronger than the first. Penn seemed determined to cede no ground to St. Joe's (1-0, 1-0 Big 5), responding to each Hawks basket and playing heavy defense that led to a number of turnovers in Penn's favor. "We knew a lot of [St. Joe's] favorite plays," Greenberg said. "[St. Joe's guard Susan] Moran, we got her early, she didn't play much, and we got another forward in foul trouble. It was a key to our game plan to make that happen." With 9:30 left, fate seemed to be on the Quakers' side as Penn senior Diana Caramanico stepped up to the foul line. Caramanico made one and missed one, but got to retake her second shot because a Hawks player stepped into the key prematurely. Caramanico sunk that shot, bringing the score to 49-39. Shortly thereafter, things turned ugly for Penn as St. Joe's senior Angela Zampella sank a three-pointer to bring the Hawks' lead to 52-39. Penn was in a scoring stalemate with St. Joe's until the Quakers went on a three-basket streak with about 3:00 left to bring Penn's deficit down to nine points, 65-56. Penn freshman Jewel Clark was then fouled, sunk her first shot and bounced her second off the rim. Clark's second shot was knocked out of bounds by St. Joe's freshman Stephanie Clark as she tried to grab the rebound. Clark then scored again off an assist from Caramanico to bring the score to 65-59. She finished with 21 points. The real excitement came with less than two minutes left, when a run of foul shots and three-pointers kept the score fluctuating wildly. St. Joe's found themselves at the line twice in a row, and sunk all four baskets. Then, Penn junior Julie Epton responded with a three-pointer, bringing the score to 69-62. St. Joe's then returned to the free-throw line to sink another two baskets, and Epton once again responded with a three-pointer to bring the Quakers within six points of the Hawks. This was followed by another pair of free throws, a Clark rebound putback at the other end and another Hawks pair from the charity stripe. With 26 seconds remaining, Penn senior Claire Cavanaugh hit a three to bring the Quakers within four points at 76-72. However, Zampella finished the Quakers off by scoring four in a row from the line and ending any chances Penn had for a comeback. Clark sank a three-pointer with about five seconds left to bring her total to 21 points, but it proved not enough to save the Quakers from their 81-75 loss to their Big 5 rival. Penn had a good chance of winning this game in the 11th hour, but was thwarted by a St. Joe's team that proved to be crack shots from the free-throw line. In the nine times that St. Joe's went to the line in the last two minutes, they hit a clutch 16-for-18 overall, an 89 percent clip.

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