Quakers knock off St. Joseph's in Big 5 Finale
Bernardini leads Penn with 24 points
January 21, 2012, 9:41 pm · Updated January 24, 2012, 12:22 am·
Amiya Chopra | DP
The streak wasn’t as long, but the stakes were just as high when the Penn men’s basketball team faced St. Joseph’s Saturday night.
Last season, the Quakers defeated the Hawks en route to their first Big 5 win in four years and 16 tries.
This year, having lost their first three Big 5 games, the Red and Blue were in danger of putting up a goose egg in this season’s city series. But with their 84-80 victory over the Hawks, the Quakers collected a ‘Big’ win for the second-straight year.
Penn (10-9, 1-3 Big 5) came out looking crisp and clean on both sides of the court and blew the game wide open, leading by as many as 23 with 12:13 left.
“We wanted to be the ones to throw the first punch.” coach Jerome Allen said. And they were.
But the Hawks (12-8, 1-1) weren’t about to go away easily.
Led by sophomore guard Langston Galloway’s 32-point, six-rebound explosion, the gritty Hawks grinded their way back into the game.
“We always try to make it about what we’re doing — our strategy, our game plan. When we lose, we don’t do what we’re supposed to do,” senior guard Zack Rosen said. “Guys made plays down the stretch, and it worked for us.”
Feeding off of a raucous fan base that filled half the arena, if not more, St. Joe’s got as close as two points late in the second half.
“We made it interesting to say the least,” Allen said. “Philadelphia teams never quit. They always play hard — they stick after it.”
Senior guard Tyler Bernardini led the Quakers in scoring, rebounds and steals, with 24, six and three, respectively.
“Shooting is contagious,” Bernardini said after his third-straight game leading Penn in points. “When one of us is on fire … the next thing you know, it’s a party out there.”
In his final Big 5 game, Rosen contributed 16 points and eight assists. He also hit a decisive three-pointer with just 2:58 left to put the Quakers back up by 10 — effectively dashing the Hawks’ comeback hopes.
Fellow senior Rob Belcore also had 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting to go along with three rebounds and two assists.
For the second time in three games, the Quakers outworked their opponent in the paint, scoring 34 points compared to 22 for St. Joe’s.
It wasn’t all pretty, though.
Despite 12 first-half fast break points, Penn had only two in the second. They let the Hawks back into the game at the free throw line, allowing 15 attempts in the second frame, compared to just two in the first.
The Red and Blue also played poor perimeter defense all night, allowing 12 threes.
“We stopped defending.” Allen said. “We allowed almost 50 points in the second half in a Division-I basketball game and expect to win basketball games. That’s where my biggest issue was.”
The Hawks went to a full- court press in the second half to get the Quakers out of their rhythm.
Penn’s frustrations boiled over when a technical foul was charged to Bernardini after teammate Miles Cartwright took a hard foul in the second half. Allen didn’t agree with the senior’s handling of the situation and let him know it.
“[The seniors] should have a little more understanding, a little more focus, a little more poise, to make simple basketball plays,” Allen said.
Escaping with the ‘W,’ Penn will carry its three-game winning streak into its Jan. 30th matchup with rival Princeton — the first of 12 remaining Ivy games.
“It’s the biggest game of the year,” Bernardini said.