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Womens Basketball vs. La Salle Credit: Thomas Munson , Thomas Munson

It was a nail-biter, but Penn women’s basketball could not pull through on a rare down defensive night.

Penn fell to Lafayette on Tuesday night, 60-57. The Quakers (3-2) were unable to execute on offense in the second half to overcome an overpowering performance by Lafayette forward Emily Homan. The Red and Blue’s final opportunity — a three-pointer as time expired by freshman Beth Brzozowski — bounced off the rim to end the game.

Lafayette guard Jamie O’Hare hit a go-ahead jump shot with 27 seconds left, putting the Leopards up, 58-57, and the Quakers took over with a full clock to retake the lead. Freshman Anna Ross ultimately missed an off-balance layup, and the Quakers fouled Lafayette forward Ashley Lutz, who made both of her foul shots with four seconds remaining to secure the final three-point margin.

“We had an opportunity to put us up one late and it just didn’t fall,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “Anna Ross put up a good shot.”

Sophomore center Sydney Stipanovich led the way for the Quakers with 13 points on 6-for-15 shooting and added seven rebounds to a game-high three blocks. Senior guard Kathleen Roche contributed 10 points, all in the second half.

“We would have liked to have more intensity early on to set the tone,” Roche said. “They did a great job of controlling the game initially, but we could have brought a little more energy and forced more turnovers.”

In the shooting frenzy that was the first half, the Quakers trailed the Leopards (4-2) by small deficits, with the gap reaching as high as seven points. Originally in a zone defense, the Quakers struggled to contain Homan, who finished with 29 points, as Stipanovich and senior forward Kara Bonenberger both found themselves in foul trouble.

McLaughlin acknowledged the team’s difficulty with guarding Homan.

“It was definitely a factor that we had to protect [Stipanovich and Bonenberger] in the first half,” McLaughlin said. “We tried to double her at times and do some other things. I give her a lot of credit, because she made a lot of difficult shots.”

Nearing the end of the half, McLaughlin converted to a man-to-man defense and the Quakers began to claw back in the last five minutes before halftime. Senior guard Renee Busch hit two of her three three-pointers in a four-minute span, and Brzozowski hit two foul shots with 57 seconds remaining in the half to make the score 34-33 in favor of Lafayette.

In the second half, McLaughlin continued to switch between man and zone defenses, but not to the same success he had.

“We got a little bit spread out [on defense], [and] they were hitting the high post on us. I thought we did a good job when we went to man, [and] we broke their flow in the first half, just not the second half.”

Penn and Lafayette often traded leads in the second half, with no team holding a lead larger than Penn’s five-point advantage with 10 minutes left. The Quakers claimed the lead with 2:19 remaining in the game on a layup by Roche, who scored Penn’s final seven points in the contest.

Ultimately, it would not be enough. Lafayette’s advantage in the paint made the final difference as the Leopards outscored Penn, 36-24, in the key.

The Quakers will look to rebound against Hampton on Friday at the Palestra.

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