DAVIDSON, N.C. -- Last night, before 2,024 energetic fans at Belk Arena, Davidson overcame Penn, 84-81, in an overtime game that had as many plot twists as a season's worth of soap operas. This was an extra-time contest that began with a somewhat uninspiring first half and evolved into a bucket-for-bucket thriller between two scrappy, somewhat inexperienced teams. In the second half alone, there were an eye-boggling 17 lead changes and five ties. As Penn guard Lamar Plummer's desperation heave left his hands just after the final buzzer sounded in overtime, the Quakers sank to 0-3 in this young season, while the Wildcats raised their season record to 2-3. The current state of his team has Penn senior captain Geoff Owens concerned. "It's tough right now," Owens said. "We need more. We make so many little mistakes, and in an overtime game like this, that means the difference between this and us walking into the locker room with a win. "I'm sure that we're all going to watch the tape of this game and kick ourselves." Things looked bleak for the Quakers less than seven minutes into the second half. At the 13:21 mark of the second period, Owens was called for his third personal foul of the night, the team's fifth of the half. Penn coach Fran Dunphy was furious at the call and received a technical foul from the officials. Less than a minute later, the Quakers were down by the largest margin of the day, 50-42. Then Penn turned the tide, at least for a while. The Quakers went on a 9-0 run, which was punctuated by a beautiful crosscourt bounce pass from David Klatsky to Koko Archibong, who converted on a baseline three-pointer. The Red and Blue regained the lead, and then a game of ping pong began. The lead bounced back and forth as the defenses of both squads hankered down. In the final 12 minutes of the second half, neither squad could muster an advantage of more than three points. With 1:18 showing on the clock, Davidson's Wayne Bernard, who led all scorers with 27 points, hit a layup to knot the score at 71. There the game stayed until, with 17 ticks remaining, 7'2" Davidson center Martin Ides hit a 12-foot baby hook from the baseline while being fouled by Owens. The foul -- Owens' fifth and final -- put the awkward Czech at the free-throw line. Ides connected, and Davidson led 74-71. Penn brought the ball down the court, and after two passes, Klatsky let go of a three-point attempt from at least 24 feet from the basket. He was fouled on the play and went to the charity stripe with the game hanging on his three freebies. Like a veteran far beyond his years, Klatsky swished all three and evened the score at 74. There it would stay until overtime. "Frankly, I would have been surprised if he [Klatsky] had missed those shots; he's that type of a player," Dunphy said. Penn was ice cold in the extra period, shooting 2-of-10 from the field, 1-of-6 from beyond the arc and 2-of-6 from the free-throw line. The first half was an unspectacular affair, but it began with a nice gesture from the Penn coaching staff. Penn senior forward Josh Sanger, who hails from nearby Charlotte, N.C., got the starting nod in place of sophomore Ugonna Onyekwe. The 6'8" defensive specialist, a favorite of Dunphy, got a chance to play before friends and family before coming out with 15:45 left in the period. At that point in the early going, Davidson had built a 9-5 lead and the Wildcats bench was juiced. When he checked in, Onyekwe looked like a man with something to prove, and he put a damper on the Wildcats' mini-run. Onyekwe corralled a loose ball and converted a layup to narrow the deficit to 9-7. The teams traded baskets to make it 11-9 before he slammed a ball home to make it 11-11. An Onyekwe steal and dish to Klatsky underneath the basket gave the Quakers the lead, 13-11, and Penn would keep it for a good stretch. A minute later, the Penn power forward went for another steal at halfcourt. For a while Onyekwe looked inspired, but after that stretch, he -- like the Quakers -- settled back into a back-and-forth, scrappy half that was less than pretty. Onyekwe, along with Owens and Plummer, scored 17 points last night, but was ineffective with the ball on many occasions. Close man-to-man defense was the story for both squads in the first stanza, as Penn shot 40.7 percent from the field and Davidson connected on a measly 34.6 percent of their attempts. Play got rather sloppy at times, as well; there were 17 turnovers and 23 personal fouls between the two teams in the first half. The Quakers came into last night's contest looking to sneak one into the win column before they embark on a hellish first half of December. Over the next two weeks, Penn will face a charging Penn State squad, La Salle, power-packed Maryland and talent-laden Seton Hall. The Wildcats, meanwhile, walked onto their home court with the clear objective of returning to the form that brought them 15 wins last season. In their first four outings, Davidson managed just one win, against Jackson State. In their four previous games, their opponents have outscored the 'Cats by an average of 81-65. Despite the loss, Dunphy doesn't seem overly concerned about his young Quakers. "I think there were a number of things that we can be happy about, but a lot of things that we need to work on," Dunphy said.Comments powered by Disqus
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