Penn basketball carried momentum from its victory against Saint Joseph's into Ivy play, holding off a late Dartmouth charge to win, 58-51. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly from the game.
The Good: Matt Howard and Greg Louis stepping up
I already highlighted Antonio Woods' performance in my column [Shameless self-promotion] so it's time to give props to the other two big performances from Friday night. While juniors Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry dealt with foul trouble, Howard and Louis stepped up on both ends of the court to lead the way. Howard had 18 points and three three-pointers while fighting through sickness (more on that later) while Louis was an efficient 4-for-5 from the field, scoring 10 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
The Bad: What else? Turnovers
If there are any running trends with Penn basketball, it's gotta be the turnovers. After 19 turnovers in their impressive win over Saint Joe's, the Quakers added 16 turnovers, including 12 before halftime. While they successfully limited the Big Green to just five points off turnovers (actually fewer than Penn scored), that likely won't fly against a superior Harvard defense on Saturday.
The Ugly: A Michael Jordan-style flu game
No, I'm not comparing Howard to arguably the greatest player of all-time, but the sophomore guard wasn't just fighting Dartmouth defenders tonight: He was fighting a stomach bug (the flu was a misnomer). How bad was it? I'll let Jerome Allen fill in the details.
"He was sick. Threw up at halftime, stuff all over the toilet," Allen said of Howard's halftime struggles. "To his credit, he weathered the storm and gave us what we needed."
That's right: Matt Howard threw up at halftime and then added 11 more points. The Ivy League should probably scared for when he gets healthy, especially since Howard said the win "helped a lot."
Freshman forward Mike Auger was a bright spot for Penn basketball on Saturday, notching a team-high 18 points and nine rebounds off the bench. -
Penn (0-3) fell behind early against a polished Lafayette squad and entered halftime facing a 15-point deficit. However, the Quakers surged back in the second frame and got the lead within two points midway through the half before ultimately squandering an opportunity to secure its first win of the season against the Leopards (3-1). A couple of impressive individual performances for the Red and Blue provided a silver lining in a game featuring far too many defensive breakdowns.
Tony Hicks looked uncharacteristically like a younger Steve Nash tonight, racking up 13 assists and just two turnovers on his way to tying the program record for assists in a single game. The entire offense ran through Hicks, and his willingness to be a playmaker allowed Penn to mount a valiant comeback in the second half, even if it fell short.
THE ALSO GOOD
Freshman forward Mike Auger played like anything but a rookie as he took apart the Lafayette defense by cutting to the basket and pulling down five offensive rebounds. Auger finished with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting and hit all four of his free throw attempts. If that weren’t enough, he gave the Palestra the biggest thrill of the season thus far when he stole the ball and finished with a vicious one-handed slam that cut the Lafayette lead to just two points with 9:28 remaining in game.
Penn already ranked dead last in the Ivy League in points allowed per game after conceding 77 and 73 points in its first two games, and giving up 83 points to Lafayette doesn’t help its case. It probably won’t matter how many assists Hicks dishes out or offensive rebounds Auger brings down if the Quakers continue to give up 77.7 points per game this season.
The Red and Blue also sit at last in the Ancient Eight in free throw percentage at 56.6 percent. Only two Ivy League squads have shot worse than 70 percent this season, and only Penn shoots less than 60 percent. Tonight the Quakers finished the night at 7-for-14, or 50 percent. To make matters worse, free throw shooters not named Mike Auger shot 3-for-10. If it plans on adding to the win column, Penn can’t afford to miss out on points at the charity stripe any longer.