Penn basketball’s game against La Salle Saturday was moved up to a 4:00 pm tipoff to avoid a time conflict with the Eagles’ playoff game.
The way it went, the Quakers are probably wishing the contest had been cancelled outright.
The Red and Blue’s problems were on full display against the Explorers, as poor shooting from the field and free-throw line, inexplicable turnovers and constant fouls combined to haunt the Quakers in an embarrassing 76-57 defeat.
From the opening tip, Penn’s offense was never in sync, as it appeared that sophomore guard Tony Hicks was the only Quakers player who had set his alarm for the matinee.
Hicks hit four of his first nine shots to collect 12 first-half points, but his teammates combined to shoot 3-for-14 from the field, missing wide-open threes and second-chance attempts under the basket.
While Penn (2-10, 0-3 Big 5) was wasting its chances, turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, La Salle (7-6, 1-1) made the most of what it had.
Senior guard Tyrone Garland didn’t need to make much use of his trademark “Southwest Philly Floater,” as he canned a pair of threes that helped push the Explorers’ lead to a seemingly-insurmountable 16 points at the half.
But La Salle wasn’t about to rest on its laurels.
“The worst thing you could do is to have a let-up, it happens all the time,” Explorers coach Dr. John Giannini said. “And that’s what we talked about [at halftime].”
After the break, it was forward Jerrell Wright’s turn to bully the Quakers.
With 6-foot-11 sophomore Darien Nelson-Henry dressed but not playing as he recovers from a concussion, Penn couldn’t submit a worthy challenger to the 6-foot-8, 255-pound junior, as he enforced his will down low to score the first eight points of the second half.
“I thought Jerrell Wright did whatever he wanted in the paint,” Penn coach Jerome Allen said. “It didn’t make a difference who we put on him.”
Wright didn’t think that Nelson-Henry’s absence made scoring any easier.
“[I’m] not gonna say it was easier, everybody challenged me on defense,” he said. “It just was my own teammates giving me the ball in the right spot.”
Penn didn’t hit its first field goal in the second half until senior captain Fran Dougherty converted a layup with 16:05 to go and it was all but over by then, as the Explorers had already built a 46-20 lead.
It was just one of those days for Penn, as struggles infected the lineup from top to bottom, falling behind by as many as 34 points on the afternoon.
Dougherty had 14 points from the field and nine rebounds, but he couldn’t handle Wright on the block, as he eventually scored 21.
Senior guard Miles Cartwright didn’t hit a shot from the field all day, and eventually fouled out.
And sophomore guard Julian Harrell never even had a chance to step on the floor, as he underwent an MRI on his knee, the results of which are still pending.
All that Penn can do now after finding a way to lose for the seventh straight contest is pick itself up off the mat.
But with red-hot Princeton looming in the distance next Saturday, even that may be a tough task.
“[We need to] try to forget about today,” Allen said. “And that’s tough for me, only because I try to use every outing as a teaching tool.
“But sometimes, it’s good to not dwell on things.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of the article mistakenly listed Fran Dougherty as having scored 10 total points rather than 10 points from the field. The DP regrets the error.