Poughkeepsie, N.Y. – With the holiday season well under way, Penn basketball traveled to New York on Sunday with one thing on their wish list: a win. However, no amount of holiday cheer could save the Quakers from their own disappointing play.
Penn lost handily on the road against a lowly Marist squad, 76-62. The defeat extended the Red and Blue’s losing streak to four straight games, and the Quakers (2-7) have dropped six of their last seven.
The Quakers were dealt a heavy blow prior to Sunday’s game, as sophomore center Darien Nelson-Henry was diagnosed with a concussion and ruled out indefinitely. Senior guard Miles Cartwright also was pulled out of the starting lineup with a thumb injury.
Penn hung around for the first few minutes of the game, going back and forth and keeping it close. It was apparent, though, that Marist (3-9) had a clear advantage inside and on the boards.
Marist center Adam Kemp enforced his will on the Penn big men from the get go, recording four blocked shots against the Quakers before the first half had even ended.
And then things got much uglier.
Midway through the first half, the Red Foxes hit three consecutive three-pointers courtesy of freshman guard Khallid Hart and junior guard Manny Thomas.
It went further downhill for Penn from there, as Marist entered the break with a commanding 23 point lead.
At the half, Marist was shooting an astounding 61.5 percent from three and had pulled in 13 more rebounds than the Red and Blue. The Red Foxes outshot Penn, 55 percent to 35 percent, and outdid the Quakers seven to one on the offensive glass.
Head coach Jerome Allen minced no words when discussing his team’s lackluster first half effort.
“I didn’t think we played particularly well today,” Allen said. “I didn’t think we competed.
“They got extra possessions on the offensive glass [and] I just think they played hungrier. It’s Division I basketball. You can’t leave guys open and hope that they miss.”
Senior forward Fran Dougherty led the Quakers with five points at the half, while four of the Red Foxes had notched over seven points, including Thomas who dropped 12 on four-of-five shooting from behind the arc.
“We weren’t mentally prepared in the first half. They imposed their will, and we didn’t answer,” Dougherty said.
In the final ten minutes of the game, the Quakers improved significantly their play, cutting Marist’s lead to 14 on multiple occasions.
This effort, however, was too little and too late, as Penn ultimately fell to the Red Foxes.
“I think we played a lot better in the second half, but you can’t win a game in one half,” Dougherty said.
In the end, Penn was outdone in almost every significant facet of the game when it mattered, as Marist first-year head coach and former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower mastered the Red and Blue from start to finish.
Dougherty ended up leading the Quakers with nine points, while Marist’s leading scorer, Hart, dropped 21.
“Today, they had more effort than us… and we missed some assignments,” Dougherty said of his team’s interior woes.
Injuries may have played a factor in today’s game, but Allen did not blame them for his team’s play.
“We would love to have Darien on the floor, but us losing this game today was not a direct function of us not having him,” Allen noted.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think injuries hindered [Cartwright].”
Penn will try once again to break their losing streak next Sunday at Rider while trying to put up a better effort in order to get the much-needed victory.
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