Quakers survive scare, beat Dartmouth, 58-55
Penn hangs on for victory after giving up 15-point lead to Big Green late in the second half Saturday
February 11, 2012, 9:31 pm·
Laura Francis | DP
A night after its toughest loss of the season to No. 25 Harvard, Penn almost let one slip away against the Ivy League’s worst team.
With 22.8 seconds to go and the Quakers up two, sophomore guard Marin Kukoc fouled out, putting Dartmouth in the double-bonus. As the crowd buzzed throughout the arena, freshman Jvonte Brooks stepped to the line for two free throws. He sank both, tying the game at 55.
Zack Rosen then took the ball slowly up the court, defended by John Golden. After making a move to get free, he stepped back and nailed a deep three with 3.4 seconds remaining to give Penn the lead and ultimately the win, 58-55.
“Our goal was to not let [Rosen] beat us and he did,” Dartmouth coach Paul Cormier said. “The shot he hit was close to 30 feet, so I don’t think we would’ve made many changes.”
Up until that shot, the Big Green (4-20, 0-8 Ivy) had contained Rosen well. They limited Penn’s star point guard to 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting, three assists and three rebounds.
“I couldn’t throw it in the ocean,” Rosen said. “Shooting’s the most fickle part of basketball.”
It was Rosen who opened the game nailing a three — his only other trey on the night — to put Dartmouth in an early 3-0 hole. But altogether, the Red and Blue (13-11, 5-2) came out of the gate slowly. The Big Green led for the early portion of the half, their largest lead coming at the 12:54 mark at 12-7.
“For us to come out the way we did — with no life, no energy, no sense of urgency, not appreciating the opportunity — it’s disappointing,” coach Jerome Allen said.
But Penn soon got into a groove. Senior Tyler Bernardini’s three-pointer with 5:57 to go in the first capped a 15-2 Quakers run, and Penn led, 22-14. On the final play of the half, Bernardini blocked a jumper by R.J. Griffin, allowing sophomore Miles Cartwright to scoop up the rebound, drive the length of the floor and lay it in as the buzzer sounded. Penn took a 27-22 lead into the locker room.
The momentum continued into the second half. The Quakers scored the first six points of the period and took their largest lead at 15 with 14:07 remaining.
But the Big Green wouldn’t go away, exploding for an 18-3 run spanning over six minutes. Sophomore Tyler Melville’s layup in the paint tied it at 48 with 7:25 to go.
“At a certain point, we just stopped believing and stopped trusting the system. More importantly, we stopped defending,” said Allen, who was annoyed, to say the least, with his team’s defensive effort. “Whether the ball is going in the basket or not for us, that has nothing to do with how we should play at the other end.”
Dartmouth did not lead at any point down the stretch, but the outcome was never certain until Jvonte Brooks’ inbound attempt was stolen by Penn sophomore Steve Rennard just before the final buzzer sounded.
Though the Red and Blue survived the upset, Allen repeatedly expressed his discontent afterward.
“I’m not crazy, I would rather be upset with a ‘W,’ but to be honest with you, I’m really, really disappointed in just our appreciation for the opportunity to play college basketball,” he said. “The guys take so much for granted, and no disrespect for Dartmouth … but for us to come out and perform the way we did, it’s disheartening.”
Only minutes after the game ended at the Palestra, Princeton did what Penn could not Friday, as the Tigers upset the Crimson, 70-62. The Harvard loss pushes Penn back to just one game behind the Crimson in the loss column.
As the Quakers once again control their own destiny, it’s back to square one.