Every eye in the Palestra Saturday night was on Miles Cartwright, every thought focused on the intended receiver of his inbounds pass.
So when Cartwright made the pass of his life, a collective gasp in the Cathedral silenced the building.
Each of the 4,103 fans had been wrong — it was not Zack Rosen who had the ball in his hands, but Fran Dougherty.
As Dougherty tipped the pass up and the ball bounced off the backboard and through the net, the hush turned to roars.
The clock read 0.5, but Columbia’s desperation shot wouldn’t go and the Quakers defeated the Lions, 61-59.
“Everybody in the building knew it was going to Zack,” Cartwright said. “Just a little misdirection right there, and Zack set a great screen, and I just saw a little crack … I just threw it up there and thank God the big fella finished it.”
Penn coach Jerome Allen admitted that he “stole the play” from Butler University and assistant coach Dan Leibovitz wrote on Twitter that the team had never actually practiced the play before executing it perfectly.
“I didn’t expect to use it tonight, but that’s what happened,” Allen said.
The Quakers opened up their second matchup with the Lions on a 10-0 run and led, 12-2, just three and a half minutes into the game. But it took over six minutes for Penn to score another basket and Columbia tied the game at 15 with just over four minutes to play in the first half.
The Red and Blue already had 11 turnovers by the break and trailed, 24-21.
Columbia took a 54-53 lead on two free throws from Mark Cisco with 31 seconds remaining. Rosen drove the ball at the other end and was fouled going up for the basket, putting him at the line to shoot two with two seconds remaining in regulation.
Rosen missed his first free throw, but made the second, tying the game at 54 and sending it into overtime.
The Quakers scored the first five points of overtime, including a deep three-pointer from Miles Cartwright to give Penn a 59-54 lead.
Columbia senior Chris Crockett responded with a three of his own to cut Penn’s lead to two, and Brian Barbour hit a pair of free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining in overtime to tie the game at 59.
Cartwright brought the ball up the court and Penn called a timeout with 1.5 seconds left, setting up Dougherty’s game-winning layup.
The real star of the game for Penn was Steve Rennard, who finished with 13 points on 3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc. His three pointers came at critical moments of the game, including putting Penn up, 53-51, with a minute and a half left in regulation.
Rennard also pulled down an offensive rebound in overtime off Mike Howlett’s missed free throw that set up Cartwright’s three to put the Quakers up five.
“It’s not surprising, because he’s been in the gym, been working on his shot,” Allen said. “I’ve been seeing just solid defense, trying to give the team whatever we need.”
Apart from Columbia’s 77-66 loss to Princeton Friday, the Lions’ six other league losses have come by a combined 19 points.
“Another classic Columbia Ivy League game, I guess,” Columbia coach Kyle Smith said. “Shoot, they drew up a great play off the sideline out of bounds, and got us.”
Senior Tyler Bernardini didn’t start either of this weekend’s games due to “health issues,” but played in both. He left Saturday’s game in the first half after going down hard and hopping off the court on one foot. He would not return to the game.
With Harvard beating Yale Saturday, the Quakers are now in sole possession of second place in the Ivy League and back in control of their own destiny as they head to Dartmouth and Harvard next weekend.
“At this point we know every game isn’t going to be pretty,” Cartwright said. “But we have to do whatever we can to try to pull out victories.”
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.