By Brett Cohen Throughout the season, Penn has lived and died by the three point shot. When the Quakers struggled from the outside, their offense falls apart. Two weeks ago at Princeton's Jadwin Gymnasium, Penn's offense was shut down as its outside shooters failed to hit the big shots. The Quakers found themselves in a similar situation last night against the Tigers. Nineteen minutes into the game, the Red and Blue had managed only 19 points to Princeton's 37. Penn, the second best three point shooting team in the country, was missing its outside chances, whether or not they were open looks. The difference last night, however, was that the Quakers rediscovered an inside game to push the eighth ranked Tigers to overtime before falling 78-72. "It seemed like they watched tapes from last time," Princeton center Steve Goodrich said. "They saw us kinda playing zone and they said 'screw it, lets play our man offense and get the ball inside.' " It was more by necessity than choice that Penn coach Fran Dunphy resorted to his inside game. The Tigers, who boast the nation's top scoring defense, were once again forcing Penn's top shooters out of their rhythm. Matt Langel and Garett Kreitz combined to go 2-for-13 from three-point range, including 0-for-6 in the first half. "If you look up the season stats, Princeton does not give up high-percentage shots from outside," Dunphy said. "They were not giving up good looks." In the previous game at Princeton, the Quakers were unable to consistently get the ball into the hands of forward Paul Romanczuk, even though he went 4-for-5 from the field. This time around, Romanczuk proved to be an unstoppable force down low, using a variety of post moves en route to 22 points -- including 17 after break. "We needed an inside presence," Dunphy said. "Paul is our most consistent inside scorer, but we need to develop another scorer down there." Penn may have found a promising inside scorer for next season in junior George Mboya, who played his most inspired offensive game since arriving at Penn. Playing within the Quakers' offensive scheme and picking his spots, the 6'6" forward scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Together, he and Romanczuk scored 16 points in a 25-7 run that tied the game at 44. "We would like George to be that active all the time," Dunphy said. "He is not the most comfortable offensive player." The Quakers inside game was also reflected in Penn's best seasonal performance on the glass -- racking up 12 offensive rebounds to only two for Princeton. The Quakers' physical play down low led to 17 critical second chance points that allowed Penn to remain close to the Tigers. "In a close game, everybody starts to play tighter," Goodrich said. "Anything can happen." Goodrich learned that the unpredictable can happen, as he picked up four personal fouls in a span of seven minutes in the second half. Romanczuk played as if he was possessed, aggressively attacking Goodrich to score a lay-up or force the foul call. Goodrich scored 33 points in 36 minutes for Princeton, but his foul trouble forced him to the bench for eight minutes late in the game. "Obviously our inside game helped us get Goodrich out of there," Dunphy said. When Goodrich was in the game, he proved to be nearly unstoppable. At one point, he had 18 points to Penn's 19. But Mboya effectively limited Goodrich's production in the second half, holding him to only three shots and denying the entry pass down low. When Mboya fouled out with five minutes to go, Goodrich was able to reassert himself as an inside presence. "Mboya going out of the game was critical for us," Dunphy said. Penn saw its chances to pull out the game vanish when Romanczuk followed Mboya to the bench halfway through overtime when he fouled out. After that point, the Quakers were unable to return to their post game in an effort to get Goodrich out of the game. Princeton coach Bill Carmody instructed his center to keep himself in front of Romanczuk and force the Quakers to pass over him. The strategy worked throughout the end of regulation and overtime, allowing Princeton's top player to remain on the court while three Quakers fouled out. "One of the things that you have to look at is that they did a tremendous job fronting Paul down low," Dunphy said. "They wouldn't let him get the ball down low." On a night when Penn's perimeter couldn't find its rhythm, the post play of Romanczuk and Mboya kept the Quakers in the game. Unfortunately, their foul trouble in the final minutes was one of the key factors that prevented Penn from completing the upset.Comments powered by Disqus
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