Penn was able to hold on for a 90-83 victory in what was an absolute must-win game against the lowly Cornell Big Red. It was an outstanding offensive performance and it put a stop to a two-game losing streak in the process, but the Quakers will need to put together a more complete performance to compete with the tougher Ivies. To examine further, here’s the Good, the Bad & the Ugly:
The Good: Penn’s Starting Guards
The Quakers put together one of their best offensive performances of the season, scoring 90 points on 61.1 percent shooting, and it is largely thanks to their guard play. Senior captain Miles Jackson-Cartwright, who has shown heart, determination and leadership all year, had a spectacular 15 point and four assist first half, at points seemingly willing his team to victory by himself.
Meanwhile, his partner-in-crime, sophomore Tony Hicks, put the game away in the second half, finishing with 27 on 9-for-13 shooting.
The Bad: Penn’s Defensive Rebounding
It’s been a theme all year: the Quakers simply have not been able to hold their own on the defensive boards. Whether the problem lies in Penn’s personnel or the team’s effort has been unclear, but the statistics largely speak for themselves.
Against a Cornell squad that simply should not be able to keep up with Penn physically, the Quakers were outdone 16-5 in offensive rebounding, which contributed significantly to Cornell’s big run in the second half. It certainly didn’t help that center Darien Nelson-Henry was limited to only 11 minutes, which has been another unfortunate theme of the season for the Quakers.
The Ugly: Cornell’s Season
I almost hate to say it, because my parents always told me never to kick a man when he’s down, but it’s too obvious to ignore. At 1-18 overall and without a win in Ivy play, Cornell’s season has been the epitome of ugly.
With that said, they showed a lot of heart playing against a Penn squad that clearly had the Big Red outmatched, battling back from a big deficit to make it very interesting in the second half almost purely through hustle.
What’s scary for the Quakers is that it was not always obvious that they were the superior team and that it wouldn’t take much to imagine them in Cornell’s shoes in a few years if they aren’t careful.