It might not have been the win they were looking for, but the Quakers got a much-needed victory against Manhattan Tuesday night at the Palestra.
Penn snapped a three-game skid with its 75-72 win, staging a second-half comeback that was sealed by senior Tyler Bernardini’s three-pointer with just over a minute left in the game.
“We shoot so much, we work so hard and you want every shot that you shoot to go in,” Bernardini said. “The fact is they just don’t. So it was good to get that in.”
The Quakers went into halftime down, 39-34, but opened the second half with a 10-5 run, tying the game with 14:32 remaining.
They took the lead for good on a layup from sophomore Miles Cartwright with four minutes to go.
Though senior Zack Rosen led Penn with 20 points, four other Quakers finished in double digits.
Senior Rob Belcore provided a much-needed presence inside, with 10 points and five boards, crediting the coaches with preparing him to step into the forward position.
“We stuck to the gameplan,” Belcore said. “The coaches told us how to attack the zone … We just kept fighting and eventually, it picked up.”
After scoring six points in 11 minutes against James Madison on Saturday, sophomore Marin Kukoc bested his career-high again, scoring 11 points in 33 minutes against the Jaspers.
“I thought Marin was big,” coach Jerome Allen said. “If he didn’t knock down the shots that he did, I’m not sure if we have the same result.”
Allen sat regular starters Bernardini and sophomore Fran Dougherty, starting freshman Henry Brooks and sophomore Cam Gunter in their places.
“Our guys don’t always value the opportunity,” he said. “It should be the best time of their lives, having the opportunity to play college basketball. I just really want to find the guys that really value that.”
Bernardini, however, was focused solely on winning and did his part with 12 second-half points.
“We got the win,” Bernardini said. “I wish we could have played more smoothly, more effective, better executed, but we didn’t — and the fact is we can’t do anything about it now. So we just have to go back and work harder.”
Rosen, however, is still the playmaker for the team and never left the game. With his 20 points, he tied Joe Sturgis for the 15th-most career points all-time for Penn at 1,292.
“He’s very efficient,” Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said. “He understands the game. He makes everyone around him better … He’s one of the premier point guards in the country, bar none. He’s what college basketball is all about.”
Despite Rosen’s strong play yet again, it was a sloppy game for both sides, and the Quakers desperately needed the win as they enter a three-game stretch against Villanova, Delaware and UCLA.
“Any win is a big win, period,” Belcore said. “But we’re not satisfied with our effort, how we performed today. But I think that’s actually a good thing because … we have big games coming up and I think it’s good that we’re going to have a little bit of hunger.”