Penn did not have a pre-Princeton letdown, as the Quakers had little trouble with Harvard and Dartmouth. It was just business as usual. For the members of the Palestra faithful, there was no nail-biting, but then again, there were no free cheesesteaks either. For the third straight weekend, the Penn men's basketball team stepped onto the court and easily dispatched two Ivy League teams to the depths of the standings. With a 79-52 win over Harvard on Friday, followed by a 75-61 triumph over Dartmouth on Saturday, Penn (13-7, 6-0 Ivy League) extended its winning streak to eight games and stretched its Ivy League run to 13 consecutive victories going into tomorrow night's showdown at Princeton. It was Penn's stellar defense that paved the way to victory against Harvard (8-13, 3-5). The Crimson shot only 31 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, which helped give Penn a commanding 32-19 halftime lead. This marked the third time this season that the Quakers held an Ancient Eight opponent to less than 20 points in the first half. "Penn's defensive presence tonight was extremely strong," Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said. "That's probably as tough as we've seen in the league so far. I don't think we've seen a group of players in the league guard the basketball and guard one pass away as well as Penn did tonight." Penn did an extraordinary job of defending junior forward Dan Clemente, who had returned the previous weekend from early-season eye surgery on a detached retina. Clemente, who was averaging 21.9 points going into the weekend, scored a scant two points before fouling out with under seven minutes remaining. The story on the other side of the ball was success from the charity stripe and the hot shooting of senior forward Frank Brown. Penn sunk 20-of-22 free throws, including center Geoff Owens' surprising 8-for-9 performance. Owens' success from the line earned him standing ovations from the Penn fans, who were thrilled to see the big man shooting much better than his 48.6 percent average. While Owens was hot at the charity stripe, Frank Brown was on fire from the floor. He was perfect on three attempts from three-point territory and finished the night with 15 points, second only behind Michael Jordan's game-high 20. "[Brown] is the X-factor that can really change the course of a game," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "He's a very good jump shooter, and when he's on his game, that just helps us so much. Now it's another perimeter guy that people have to concern themselves with." Brown led the charge after halftime, hitting 4-of-5 from the floor. He scored 10 second-half points in only 11 minutes of playing time. Meanwhile, the Quakers gradually added to their 13-point halftime lead, reaching their largest margin of the game on sophomore Dan Solomito's buzzer beater that gave Penn a 79-52 victory. The next night, Penn got out to another fast start. It looked like the Red and Blue would have a cakewalk against Dartmouth (6-15, 2-6) when they took an early 13-2 lead. Penn's game-opening run was almost single-handedly sparked by forward Ugonna Onyekwe, who scored a staggering 11 points in the first seven minutes. "The positive thing is that Ugonna will graduate in four years, so it's only four years that we have to put up with it," Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher said. The Quakers built on their blistering start and took a 39-22 lead into the locker room at the half. The second session was a different story, however, as Dartmouth began to find its range, hitting seven three-pointers after halftime. The Big Green cut a 42-22 Penn lead to 44-31 by hitting trifectas on three consecutive trips down the floor. Two of those threes were nailed by junior guard Greg Buth, who drew the ire and subsequent heckling of Penn fans after he hit a three in the first half and proceeded to taunt the Palestra faithful. Nevertheless, Penn answered with a monster slam from freshman Koko Archibong and two layups from Jordan -- who led the Quakers in scoring with 24 points -- to up Penn's lead to 50-31. "I thought we did some good things out there to answer their runs, but I thought they were very good offensively and made some shots we contested and challenged a little bit," Dunphy said. That was the basic story of the entire second half. Dartmouth would hit some tough shots to stay in the game, but Penn would always respond, preventing the Big Green from ever coming within 11 points of the Quakers. Holding a 67-54 edge with one minute, 24 seconds left, the Quakers made it clear that the Big Green would be unable to pull off the upset. Then, the Penn fans -- hungry to increase their Ivy League winning streak to 14 -- started chanting, "We want Princeton." They'll get their wish tomorrow.Comments powered by Disqus
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