The NCAA tournament may still be a couple weeks away, but the madness has already begun.
On Friday night, Penn men's basketball suffered a 80-79 loss to Yale following a last-second layup from Paul Atkinson. The Quakers (21-8, 11-2) were in control for most of the game and held a five-point lead with under a minute left.
However, following a series of missed free throws, an untimely foul of a three-point shooter, and a late turnover, Yale (15-14, 8-5) clawed its way back to narrow the Quakers' lead to one with three seconds left.
On the final critical turnover, junior Max Rothschild took the ball out of bounds and attempted to get it to classmate Darnell Foreman. Unfortunately for Penn, Yale’s Azar Swain poked the ball out of Foreman’s hands to give the Bulldogs the ball under the basket.
After the officials reviewed the play and confirmed that it was the Bulldogs' ball, Yale’s Miye Oni received an in-bounds pass and then drove through the lane to find Atkinson for the game winning basket with only 0.3 seconds left on the clock.
The loss delivers a serious blow to the Red and Blue's sole Ivy regular season championship hopes. Penn can still clinch a share of the championship with a win over Brown tomorrow, but unless Harvard also loses its game to Columbia, the Quakers will enter next weekend's Ivy Tournament as the No. 2 seed.
From the start, Penn seemed to have control of the game, storming out to a double digit lead midway through the first half and holding off a series of Yale comebacks. After not surrendering the lead at any point in the first half, the lead changed five times in the second half.
Despite the heartbreaking finish, the Quakers saw strong play from its seniors, particularly Foreman and reserve guard Caleb Wood, who combined for 42 points on 13 of 21 shooting.
Foreman, in particular, affected the game from all angles, pacing the team with seven assists and five rebounds along with no turnovers.
Besides the seniors, sophomores AJ Brodeur and Devon Goodman provided key buckets for the Red and Blue.
Brodeur, who leads the team in conference play in points and rebounds, shot eight of nine from the field for 16 points. His only miss came from the three point line. Goodman, who has continued his strong play since his 23 point outburst against Columbia, provided 10 points off the bench.
As a team, Penn’s bench outscored Yale's bench 33-4.
Still, the Quakers could not contain Oni, who, even before his game-winning assist, had already torched them for 23 points and 12 rebounds.
At one point late in the game, Penn looked on its way towards securing an outright Ivy league regular-season championship as Harvard was also trailing late against Cornell.
Instead, the Red and Blue fell and the Crimson triumphed in double-overtime. Penn can still clinch a share of the regular-season championship with a win over Brown tomorrow, but to earn the outright championship and No. 1 seed for the Ivy Tournament, the Quakers will also need Harvard to lose its game to Columbia.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.