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NEW YORK — At the end of the first half of Saturday night’s game against Columbia, it looked like Penn might head into its fourth straight overtime.

Following the energetic opening period in which the lead changed 10 times, the score was tied at 35.

But unlike Penn’s last three games, extra minutes proved unnecessary, as the Quakers faltered down the stretch and fell 75-62 to the Lions for their fourth consecutive conference loss.

“A couple guys were there, but in general as a group we just didn’t do a good job of executing on both ends,” coach Jerome Allen said.

Though the second frame started with the teams exchanging turnovers, Columbia (13-9, 4-4 Ivy) quickly turned up the heat.

Then Lions junior Noruwa Agho, who was the game’s leading scorer with 21 points, got the ball off an offensive rebound and nailed a three-pointer from the corner.

The bucket sparked a 10-point run — eight from Agho — allowing the Lions to put some distance between themselves and the Red and Blue (9-12, 3-4).

Penn never recovered.

The Quakers missed crucial defensive rebounds and committed eight of their 11 turnovers after halftime, giving Columbia ample opportunities to outscore them, 40-27, after halftime.

“Our inability to score coupled with not being able to stop the ball in the paint — it just hurt us tonight,” Allen said.

Penn’s struggles down low were exposed throughout the back-and-forth first half. Though the Quakers hit 53.6 percent of their shots compared to Columbia’s 48.4 percent, the Lions still outscored Penn, 24-18, from in the paint.

“Offensively, it was a solid first half for us — we had 35 points,” Allen said. “We also gave up 35 points.”

Penn’s energetic first half was boosted by the performance of freshman Cameron Gunter. Despite entering the game without a collegiate point to his name, the rookie scored 10 before the break.

“He did a phenomenal job,” Allen said. “He played with a sense of poise about himself that I wish, in general, we had as a team.”

Senior Jack Eggleston also posted 10 points for the Quakers before halftime.

But both the senior — who was Penn’s leading scorer with 16 total points — and the freshman struggled to find the same success after the break, while Columbia’s Agho, Asenso Ampim and Brian Barbour picked up the pace.

“You have two choices after a tough game,” Barbour said. “You can either lie down or fight back.”

After hitting the game-tying three in the waning seconds at Princeton, senior Tyler Bernardini couldn’t pick up the offensive slack for Penn. He scored six points Friday at Cornell and netted just five Saturday on 2-for-7 shooting from the floor.

“We’re just gonna keep trying to fight for it, keep covering the details,” Gunter said. “Keep trying to defend—defend is what we want to do most of anything. Putting up points is only putting up points if [the Lions] defend and win the game.”

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