Women’s Basketball Topples Penn, 55-52

Taylor Rooks recorded her fifth double-double of the season Friday (Gil Talbot).
Taylor Rooks recorded her fifth double-double of the season Friday (Gil Talbot).
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.  Behind a 21-point, 12-rebound effort from senior Taylor Rooks, the Harvard women's basketball team (15-9, 7-4 Ivy) took down visiting Penn (17-7, 8-3 Ivy), 55-52, at Lavietes Pavilion Friday night.

Sophomore Jeannie Boehm also filled the stat sheet with 10 points, nine boards and five blocks. The Crimson defense had a total of nine blocks and eight steals, accounting for 15 Penn turnovers. The win improved Harvard to 11-0 at Lavietes this season, matching the best start on its home floor since the 2012-13 season. The win keeps Harvard in a tie for third in the Ivy League standings with Yale and just one game behind Penn for second.

Harvard used a 13-0 run in the first quarter to take control early. Senior Kirby Porter ignited the run with a 3-pointer and Rooks capped it with consecutive buckets in the paint. Rooks extended the Crimson advantage to 27-12 at the start of the second frame with a triple that was assisted by Boehm.

Penn, though, used a 14-0 spurt that began with 4:47 to go in the second quarter and lasted until the clock read 6:10 in the third to go ahead, 32-31. Back-to-back scores from junior Sydney Skinner helped Harvard stabilize, but the count remained even at 41-41 heading to the final 10 minutes of action.

Scoring was at a premium in the fourth, but Skinner was able to tally six of her 12 points and pulled down four rebounds to spark the Crimson down the stretch. Free throws helped seal the victory for Harvard, as Skinner knocked down three and sophomore Katie Benzan hit a pair to keep the Crimson's lead at three. Penn had one final shot at the buzzer, but Anna Ross' triple fell short of the front of the rim.

Harvard Highlights:
- Taylor Rooks scored 21 points and had 12 rebounds, good for her fifth double-double of the season. It was also the fifth time this season she scored at least 20 points.
- Harvard blocked nine shots Friday, the most in a game this season.
- With the win, Harvard improved to 11-0 at Lavietes Pavilion. That marks the best record at home since the 2012-13 season when Harvard went 11-0.

Game Notes:
- Friday's win was the 50th all-time against the Quakers and was also the first in the last 10 meetings between the teams for Harvard.

What's next?
Harvard closes out the home slate of its schedule on Senior Night Saturday, hosting Princeton at 7 p.m. on NESNplus and the Ivy League Network.