NEW YORK — For the fourth Ivy weekend in a row, the Penn men’s basketball team once again followed a winning effort with inconsistency.
After a 79-71 win over Cornell on Friday night, the Quakers couldn’t get past a Columbia team that had lost seven of its previous eight games, losing 58-41.
The lone bright spot for Penn (7-19, 4-5 Ivy) was the performance of freshman guard Tony Hicks. One day after racking up 29 points against the Big Red — the most for a Penn rookie since then-player Jerome Allen scored 31 on the road against Cornell in 1992 — Hicks turned in a game-leading 19 points at Columbia (11-13, 3-7).
“From Sept. 15 to today, [Hicks] has been a gym rat. And it takes some time to get in a rhythm, to get the right understanding of the spacing, the angles [and] the timing,” coach Allen said. “I know he can score the ball — sometimes I just wish that he played at the right pace but despite the two technical fouls, I thought he tried to give us a spark offensively.”
But Hicks’ effort was wasted as the Quakers were never really in the game. Columbia held a double-digit lead for most of the night and was never threatened as the Red and Blue failed to capitalize on most of their offensive opportunities.
“It was crazy,” Columbia coach Kyle Smith said. “We couldn’t make one [shot] but I looked at the score and was like, ‘They haven’t scored much either.’ It took them a long time to take the lid off the basket.”
The game was marked by a poor shooting performance from both teams, as Penn went 14-for-48 from the field and the Lions shot 15-for-45.
And one day after playing one of his most well-rounded games of the year, junior captain Miles Cartwright was limited to 1-for-10 shooting from the field.
“I thought the scout was very good by [assistant] coach [Kevin] Hovde,” Columbia guard Brian Barbour said. “We knew what he was trying to do — trying to curl, get to the middle, trying to really create and be aggressive.”
Both squads combined for only six field goals in the second stanza, but the Lions still managed to extend their lead thanks to 19 second-half free throws.
And with 3:33 left in the game, right after Penn managed to cut its deficit to single digits, a missed travel call on Barbour, followed by Hicks’ second technical foul of the day — and early trip to the locker room — along with a team technical, shifted the momentum in the home team’s favor.
“I’m not getting caught up with whether the ball goes in the basket, I’m more so concerned with his approach, with him appreciating the opportunity to play college basketball and just stay locked into our game plan,” Allen said.
Barbour converted three of four attempts from the charity stripe to put the Lions up, 52-39, and the Red and Blue would not recover.
“The refs blew that call actually, I think Brian traveled on the inbounds,” Smith said. “I understand coach Allen’s frustration but it [was] a good break for us.”
While both the Quakers and the Lions turned in unspectacular performances on both sides of the ball, Columbia was able to capitalize on its attempts from beyond the arc, as its shooters combined for six threes — all of them in the first half. Penn, meanwhile, was held to a single trey on only 11 attempts.
For the Red and Blue, the already slim hopes of an Ivy title are now gone. The only question remaining is whether they can finally turn in two complete efforts in a row.