HANOVER, N.H. — At the free throw line with 12.6 seconds remaining and Dartmouth down one, Jvonte Brooks had a chance to tie the game at 55 for the Big Green.
Only 13 days earlier, the freshman forward found himself in the same situation against Penn at the Palestra. He converted the shot that night. This time, it clanged off the back of the rim.
Following the miss, Quakers forward Henry Brooks snagged the rebound and called a timeout. After Zack Rosen made two free throws and a missed three-point heave at the buzzer, Penn once again escaped with a win against resilient Dartmouth, 57-54.
“They’re tough,” said Rosen, who scored a game-high 27 points. “They’re scrappy. And to be honest, for whatever reason, these two [Dartmouth] games we took possessions off.”
Though the matchups between the two Ivy rivals were separated by nearly two weeks and 350 miles, the results played out almost the same.
The Quakers (16-11, 8-2 Ivy) came out sluggish to start the game, scoring only 12 points in the first dozen minutes of play. But they closed out the half on a 15-8 run to take the lead going into the locker room, 27-20.
However, instead of pulling away in the second half — which a second-place team could be expected to do against an opponent in the basement of its conference — the Red and Blue let the Big Green (5-22, 1-10) stay in it.
“Those guys play hard,” Penn coach Jerome Allen said. “They’re a lot better than their win-loss percentage reflects.”
Henry Brooks scored a field goal on Penn’s first possession to open the second half, but the Quakers went nearly nine minutes before they got another one. In the meantime, Dartmouth built up its largest lead of the game at 35-31.
Then Rob Belcore took over. After a fastbreak layup by Rosen cut the deficit to two, Belcore managed two steals in the next two Big Green possessions, resulting in five points for the Red and Blue. It was all part of a 7-0 run — in the span of 53 seconds — which gave Penn the lead, 38-35.
“Those are the plays I’m expected to make,” said Belcore, who was the only other Penn player in double digits, with 14 points. He also pulled down 10 rebounds. “I can change the game on the defensive side of the floor.”
But much like two weekends ago, the Quakers couldn’t put Dartmouth away. The teams traded buckets, with freshman big man Gabas Maldunas making shots down low for the Big Green and Zack Rosen sinking jump shot after jump shot for Penn. He scored the last 16 points of the game for the Quakers.
“Henry [Brooks] was out there setting awesome screens,” Rosen said. “I was wide open. I just had to make the shot.”
And it again came down to Jvonte Brooks in the final 30 seconds. With his team down, 55-52, he grabbed an offensive board off a three-point miss, went hard to the basket and banked in a tough shot off the glass, simultaneously drawing a foul from Quakers guard Steve Rennard.
But this time, the Dartmouth freshman couldn’t come through in the clutch. Penn escaped with its eighth Ivy League win of the year, clinging to second place and setting up an all-or-nothing game Saturday against first-place Harvard in Boston.
“It’s in our hands,” Rosen said. “At this point in the season, where else could we be. 10-0? Sure. But we’re here right now and we’re right there.”