The Quakers held off a comeback by St. Joe's to preserve the victory in the game's closing seconds. When at his wits' end, fictional godfather Michael Corleone complained: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." That quote from the Godfather trilogy fits the final minute of play in last night's Penn men's basketball game against St. Joseph's to a tee. Just when it looked as if Penn was going to run away with the game, the Quakers were pulled right back in by a Hawks basket or a Penn turnover. The final buzzer sounded with a controversial non-call off a St. Joe's inbounds play, when Penn center Geoff Owens tipped the pass out of the hands of Bill Phillips, crushing the Hawks' hopes for a desperation heave. "We played until the last second," St Joe's coach Phil Martelli said. "There should have been a call on the last play and there wasn't." The fact that the Hawks had the opportunity to tie the game was surprising given that the Quakers were up by seven points with 1:24 to go in the game. That, however, was when the wheels almost fell off for Penn. Ugonna Onyekwe, who led the Quakers in scoring with a career-high 20 points, had just sparked the crowd with a powerful dunk. But 14 seconds later, Onyekwe committed his fifth foul of the game, and his exit helped send the Quakers into a tailspin. Phillips made two free throws to cut the Penn lead to five. St Joe's then fouled Owens, sending him to the foul line for two shots. Owens, who is shooting an abysmal 44 percent from the charity stripe for the season, missed both shots. "I thought we played the last minute brilliantly," Martelli said. "We stretched it, squeezed every second out of that last minute and did everything we were supposed to do." After Owens' missed his foul shots, the Hawks quickly moved the ball down the court, where forward Andre Howard was fouled by Owens. Howard converted the front end of the one-and-one, cutting the Penn lead to four. The Quakers got the ball to Michael Jordan on the inbounds pass, and he was quickly fouled. Jordan, who leads Penn in free-throw percentage at 80 percent, made both shots. It seemed as if that was the end for St. Joe's. But the Hawks scored again when Tim Brown drove through the entire Penn defense and scored on an easy layup. "I think the thing that we should have controlled was Brown turning the corner as quickly as he did getting to the basket," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We needed to try and get him to go east and west instead of taking it to the basket unimpeded." Following the basket, the Hawks fouled Penn forward Frank Brown, who made one-of-two from the line. At that point, the Quakers were up by five point with less than 40 seconds to go. Nevertheless, St. Joe's struck back yet again when Brown weaved through the defense, passing to Phillips for another easy layup. Jordan was fouled again and made another two free throws, which were quickly followed by another driving Brown layup for the Hawks. On the ensuing possession, Jordan made his fifth and sixth free throws of the last minute. And that's when things got really interesting. With 8.6 seconds to go and Penn up by five, Hawks guard Erick Woods heaved the ball to Brown, who was standing at the other baseline. Brown caught the ball, took a step back and hit an off-balance shocker from three-point range. "Brown's three was a terrific shot," Dunphy said. "With David [Klatsky] in the game -- he's a little shorter -- so it looked like Brown was able to jump over him for the shot." After a St. Joe's timeout, the Quakers inbounded the ball to Penn's Brown, but the forward was called for traveling while trying to draw a foul. The Quakers had one timeout left, but decided not to call it, giving St. Joe's the ball with 3.8 seconds to go. "I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to call a timeout to set up our defense, because that would have allowed them to set up their offense, so I just substituted Geoff [Owens] and that seemed to help us," Dunphy said. Brown, St. Joe's man of the minute, attempted to inbound the ball to Phillips, but Owens tipped the ball onto the ground where it rolled around until Jordan scooped it up with .2 seconds remaining in the contest. Jordan then sank one of two foul shots to seal the win at long last. As Owens tipped the ball, the St. Joe's bench erupted in fury as the players and coaches all frantically expressed their belief that a foul should have been called. Although the Quakers pulled out this victory, they had many opportunities to put the game away. Minus Jordan, who shot 9-of-11 on foul shots, Penn shot just 50 percent from the line. The Quakers also allowed eight points as a result of turnovers, and it might have been more if Owens had not tipped the ball at the last second.Comments powered by Disqus
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