PROVIDENCE, R.I. — With Penn basketball ahead against Brown, 51-47, and with five minutes left to play, Red and Blue senior guard Steve Rennard dove for a loose ball at the top of the key.
As he got up, Bears guard Sean McGonagill darted around a screen, caught a pass in the right corner and let loose a trey over Rennard’s outstretched arms.
On the next possession, the same thing happened, with McGonagill draining another three over Rennard. Just out of reach.
And with that, Brown turned the tide of the entire game.
In a game that was close from the beginning, the Bears found a way to light a fire in snowy Providence and down the Quakers, 62-55.
“Well, that certainly wasn’t pretty. I don’t think [Penn] played their best game offensively [with] turnovers, missed shots,” Brown coach Mike Martin said. “But I certainly have great respect for those guys.
“They’re a good defensive team and certainly better than their record is.”
The loss was the second of the weekend for Penn (6-15, 3-4 Ivy) after their defeat to Yale on Friday. Brown (13-9, 5-3) split its weekend, rebounding after a tough loss to Princeton on Friday.
Against the Elis, Penn had several opportunities to break the game open, but failed to do so. The Quakers failed to take advantage of Yale’s miscues and missed shots in the first half, and let an early eight-point lead slip away.
Despite a decent start, Penn allowed Yale to dominate the end of the first half and beginning of the second period.
Turnovers and a lengthy scoring drought, combined with 25 points and seven rebounds from the Bulldogs’ Justin Sears put the game out of reach for the Red and Blue.
Saturday was a similar story for the Red and Blue as the game was a back-and-forth affair from the start. Early on in the first half, Penn struggled ahead to an early lead, but was unable to pull away due to a slew of turnovers.
The Quakers committed 13 in the half with every player except freshman forward Dylan Jones committing at least one giveaway.
However, Brown failed to capitalize, managing just 10 points off of turnovers, while McGonagill was unable to get anything going.
“I thought for the most part we did a solid job defending [McGonagill] throughout the game,” Penn coach Jerome Allen said.
When Penn managed to actually get a shot off, it found great success inside as senior forward Fran Dougherty and sophomore center Darien Nelson-Henry combined for 20 first-half points.
The second half began with much of the same, though Penn managed to string together an 8-2 run together midway through the half to go ahead, 46-40.
“We weren’t really operating the same way as we were in the first half and we didn’t have as much success running our motions,” Nelson-Henry said. “They adjusted to our actions and you have to find counters, but we didn’t.”
And it wasn’t long after that McGonagill found his spark and lit up the Red and Blue down the stretch. Once Brown claimed the lead with under four minutes to go, the Bears would never relinquish it.
The main bright spot for the Red and Blue throughout the night was Nelson-Henry, who contributed 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, following up a strong performance against Yale.
McGonagill weathered his slow start to finish with 15 points for the Bears, while sophomore forward Cedric Kuakumensah scored a team-high 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
“[Kuakamensah] was a warrior in the paint,” Martin said. “He stepped up to the challenge. Nelson-Henry is a good player, and he responded well.”
Looking forward to next weekend’s matchups with Harvard and Dartmouth on Friday and Saturday, respectively, the Quakers are going to have to adjust to find any form of success.
“We just need to have a good week of practice,” Nelson-Henry said. “We need to get our minds right, our bodies right. We have to use this loss as a learning experience.”