The away team on their own home court, Penn was unable to put together back to back wins for the first time this season in their return.
St. Joseph’s pulled away from the “road” Quakers at the Palestra with a 15-4 first half run and never looked back, defeating Penn, 79-59.
After a fast-paced start to the game, the Hawks (10-6) pulled away from the Red and Blue with their timely run. The run turned a tie game to an 11-point halftime deficit for the Quakers.
Senior guard Carl Jones led the spurt for St. Joseph’s, as he finished the first half with 11 points. They also received a big performance from Ronald Roberts, who finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
“It is okay that we struggled to score the ball the rest of the first half,” coach Jerome Allen said. “But we have to make sure that the opposing team struggles as well.”
The Quakers (3-14) could not stop the bleeding the second half, as they allowed the Hawks to extend their lead through three point shooting, as St. Joseph’s made seven threes in the second half alone to finish with 11 total from beyond the arc.
The Quakers couldn’t get anything going offensively as well, shooting just 19 percent from three and hurting themselves by shooting a paltry 36 percent from the free throw line. The missed free throws hurt Penn’s attempts to cut into the Hawks’ lead.
“We’ve got to step up and make free throws, especially in a game where we struggle to score the ball,” Allen said. “It is something we have got to get better at.”
However, Darien Nelson-Henry provided a bright spot for Penn in his second consecutive start. He led the Red and Blue with 17 points and seven rebounds as the Quakers ran much of their offense through him in the second half.
“More minutes and more touches helped me get more comfortable on the court,” Nelson-Henry said.
After turning the ball over 26 times against NJIT on Thursday, Penn limited itself to just 10 turnovers on the game while also notching 12 offensive rebounds. Those improvements helped the Red and Blue take 11 more shots than the Hawks.
“We held to St. Joes to just two offensive rebounds,” Allen said. “I am going to take the positive approach, and say that was pretty good.”
While Allen stressed the positive aspects for the Quakers, they once again could not put together an all-around performance on their home court. Despite the offensive rebounds, the Hawks still outrebounded the Quakers, 39-32.
St. Joseph’s played shorthanded without Halil Kanesevic, but their starters outscored Penn by themselves, 64-59. Hawks’ coach Phil Martelli stressed the importance of his team matching the Quakers’ intensity.
“The biggest word on our board was energy,” St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “We’re older. Penn plays extraordinarily hard but they’re just not there experience wise, so we had to bring energy.”
Penn has one more Big 5 match up to close out non-conference play against Temple before finishing their season with their final 13 games in the Ivy League.
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