For the first time in Ivy play this season, Harvard played like the league title favorite it is from start to finish.
The Quakers couldn’t make a dent in the Crimson’s lead after the early going and easily fell to Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion, 73-54.
Penn (6-18, 3-4 Ivy) was led by freshman center Darien Nelson-Henry, who returned from his low-grade MCL sprain with a bandaged left knee but was healthy enough to turn in a 14-point, four-rebound performance in just 20 minutes of play. Junior Cam Gunter also added career highs in points (10) and rebounds (nine).
Still, coach Jerome Allen wasn’t impressed by Nelson-Henry’s performance.
“He played one end of the floor, he played offense. That’s it,” Allen said. “Defensively he had zero presence. Every time they threw the ball inside against him, they scored. He has to do a better job of playing a more complete game.
“A lot of the bigs need to do a better job stepping up and trying to help on penetration,” Nelson-Henry said. “The guards also need to do a better job of keeping them out of the paint and giving us a chance to react a little bit. I think the team as a whole needs to take defense more personally.”
A 19-11 run by Harvard (15-7, 7-1) in the first half eventually set up a 37-27 halftime lead for the Crimson and gave them the advantage for good.
Ensuring that advantage were sophomores Wesley Saunders and Kenyatta Smith, who notched 23 and 20 points respectively. Seventeen of Saunders’s points came in the first half and Smith fell just short of a triple-double with 20 points, 10 blocks and nine rebounds. Harvard blocked 15 shots as a team.
“Inside out is how we always want to play, and we haven’t been able to do that as well,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “I thought that somehow we needed to figure that out, and hopefully Kenyatta’s going to be the answer for that as we move forward.”
“One, we didn’t deserve to win,” Allen said. “Two, we didn’t come out with the fire and the hunger and the determination, whether it was getting shots blocked or giving up offensive rebounds.” The Quakers’ loss marked their eighth loss in the last 10 games of the series.