Penn basketball falls to Wagner, 71-65
November 22, 2011, 9:06 pm · Updated November 27, 2011, 3:43 pm·
Hounding defense and 3-point shooting carried Penn to a 3-1 start to the season. But when the shots clanked off the rim for a night, and the defense was uncharacteristically lax, things quickly turned south against Wagner.
“From the start we just had a mindset that we’ve arrived, like we won something because we won a couple games,” coach Jerome Allen said. “We were just relaxed, careless with the basketball.”
And with a high-pressure defense of its own, Wagner scrapped its way to a 71-65 win at the Palestra Tuesday.
Zack Rosen again led all scorers with 23, but was just 1-for-4 from behind the arc, where he has been so deadly in the start of the season.
The senior captain was facing his high school coach and mentor in Wagner headman Dan Hurley, and the teacher seemed to know just how to contain the student. Rosen faced double-teams and full-court press nearly every time he got the ball.
“They play everyone like that — that’s who he is,” Rosen said of Hurley, who is starting his second season with the Seahawks. “They’re going to try and pressure for 40 minutes, try to wear guys down, tax ‘em.”
With the long ball not falling — Penn was 0-for-7 from three in the first half, 2-for-13 on the night — the Quakers found themselves with a nine-point deficit at the break. Wagner forced 10 turnovers in the half, four from Rosen, which led to 13 Wagner points.
Penn (3-2) opened the second half with a 13-4 run to retake the lead, but couldn’t break the game open as offensive sets continued to turn into turnovers. With the game tied and under four-minutes remaining, Wagner’s spark off the bench, Chris Martin drifted into the corner where he was left wide open for a 3.
The Seahawks (4-1) wouldn’t let go of their lead, and closed out with impeccable 6-for-6 free-throw shooting down the stretch. Martin scored 11 points on the night, and sophomore Latif Rivers led Wagner with 18.
“Any time you have more turnovers than you have assists, that’s not good,” Allen said. “Do I think we’re a better team? What do I know, from a personnel standpoint I thought that. But at the end of the game, Wagner won. They executed better when they needed to.”
Penn’s fate on offense appears increasingly tied to the performances of Rosen and his backcourt of Tyler Bernardini and Miles Cartwright. The Quakers got just 14 points out of the four frontcourt players who saw action Tuesday.
“It’s my responsibility to come up with some schemes that free them up,” he said, adding that he thought the forwards played well in the last game against Robert Morris.
But until the offensive production becomes consistent, Allen will continue to preach doing “the dirty work on defense.”
That will be necessary for Penn to hang with No. 16 Pittsburgh, which visits the Palestra Friday night as part of the Hoop Group Classic. Penn fell to the Panthers, 82-58, last year in Steel City.
“We’re not talented enough where we can outscore teams,” Allen said. “When the ball may not go in the basket, how are we going to win the game? We must defend. Tonight we didn’t do a good job of that, and this is the result.”