Penn basketball falls to Princeton in season finale, 70-65

Nelson-Henry had a strong first half, but Tigers runs in second frame proved too much for Quakers

· March 11, 2014, 10:01 pm   ·  Updated March 16, 2014, 11:45 pm

PRINCETON - It was a bit too much to ask for. A second upset win over the Tigers this season and another upset to follow the thrilling women’s game that came before.

In their final game of the season, the Quakers came out and nearly upset Princeton, claiming a halftime lead before ultimately falling, 70-65.

“8-20 is not acceptable, but I have an appreciation for [the seniors] trying to do the right things,” coach Jerome Allen said.

Early on, Penn (8-20, 5-9 Ivy) played the Tigers (20-8, 8-6) tight, with neither team taking more than a six-point lead throughout the first half.

Penn found success inside early on with sophomore center Darien Nelson-Henry contributing a strong 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting. However, late in the half, Nelson-Henry would go to the bench grimacing and icing his left hip.

“Every game, the first thing on our board offensively is play inside-out,” Allen said. “I thought in spurts tonight we were patient enough, we got guys in position and we were able to do some things in the paint. That’s how we set out to play.”

The Quakers played the entire half rather cleanly, with just five turnovers, and played strong perimeter defense, both areas where they’d had issues earlier in the season.

Penn held the Tigers scoreless over the final 3:45 to go into the break ahead, 31-29.

The second half began much the same way, with the Quakers extending their lead to six behind strong defense and a mistake-free offensive attack.

However, midway through the half, the Tigers began to take control after a four- point play from freshman guard Steven Cook brought them within two around the 13-minute mark.

After a few sloppy plays, a layup from freshman forward Spencer Weisz put Princeton in a lead that it would not surrender.

The Quakers attempted to rally, but Princeton found ways to answer right back and closed the game out, 70-65.

Senior guard T. J. Bray , the Ivy League’s leading scorer, led the way for Princeton, pouring in 18 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists.

For the Quakers, it was the big men inside who made the impact. Senior forward Fran Dougherty and sophomore center Nelson-Henry combined to shoot 17-for-28, while combining to score 38 points and grab 12 rebounds. Meanwhile, the rest of the team shot 9-for-31.

“I’m not going to look at it as just ‘Our senior year didn’t go our way,’” Dougherty said. “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, some great seasons and some not-so-great seasons.”

For the seniors, this was the last game of their careers and the end of a very disappointing season for the Quakers. When the season began, the Quakers were projected to finish second in the conference, yet ended with a 5-9 Ivy record.

“I think I put more pressure on myself than anyone, and to be honest I could care less with what the periphery says,” Allen said. “I don’t make my own wife happy every day. I get it, everybody loves a winner and when you don’t win, it’s unacceptable.”

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