RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Penn men's basketball team traveled to the CoSIDA Classic with an opportunity to open its 2000-01 season with a couple of wins against quality competition. Consider that a missed opportunity. The Quakers returned to Philadelphia this weekend owners of an 0-2 record after dropping contests to North Carolina State and Fordham at the season-opening tournament. Although Penn kept each game close, in the end it could not put either opponent away. In the opener, N.C. State ran away from Penn in the closing minutes to win, 77-64. The Quakers had a chance to redeem themselves the following night in the tournament's third-place game, but the Quakers could not take advantage of that chance either. Penn raced out to a 19-9 lead before a sparse crowd of 3,376 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, but foul trouble -- like it did the previous night -- eventually did them in. The Rams were in the bonus with more than 12 minutes remaining in the second half and sunk 30-of-37 from the foul line to emerge with an 81-78 win. Penn will now have until next Tuesday to work out the kinks in its play before heading back to the Tar Heel State to face Davidson. "I think we're getting exactly what we deserved," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said after the Fordham loss. "We didn't play well, and we didn't deserve to win the game. "We're a work in a progress. I don't think we're a great basketball team. We didn't do a good job of keeping people in front of us, and we had a couple of foolish fouls -- little touch fouls -- but that's what the refs were calling so you have to adjust." Penn had trouble adjusting throughout the night against the Rams. Center Geoff Owens and forward Ugonna Onyekwe both fouled out, and the Red and Blue sent Fordham to the line on its final four possessions. With 35.9 seconds left in the game, Fordham guard Bevon Robin sunk two foul shots to give the Rams a 79-75 lead. After a long miss by Lamar Plummer on the ensuing possession, Quakers forward Koko Archibong immediately fouled Rams forward Liberto Tetimadingar. Tetimadingar missed both attempts, and the Quakers still had life. Again, Plummer found the ball in his hands, but this time he connected on a nearly 25-foot three-pointer to pull Penn to within one at 79-78. The Quakers called timeout with 8.8 ticks left on the clock to design one final play. Quakers freshman Jeff Schiffner then quickly fouled Fordham's Arseni Kuchinsky, who connected on both foul shots to extend the Rams' lead to 81-78. With 5.7 seconds left, the Quakers had one final chance to hit a three and send the game to overtime. Once again, point guard David Klatsky got the ball to Plummer. But the shooting guard's long attempt from the left side bounced off the rim and into the hands of Fordham guard Jason Harris, securing the win for the Rams. "It was a pretty good look," Plummer said. "It was a makeable shot; I should have made the shot. It didn't go in, and that just means I have to take more shots every day in practice." Plummer finished with 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting. Eleven of his shots were from behind the three-point line. Freshman Adam Chubb led the Quakers with 17 points in 20 minutes off the bench. Klatsky also contributed 15 points in a team-high 37 minutes. But in the first weekend of the post-Michael Jordan and Matt Langel era, solid play from the backcourt was crucial. This was particularly true on Saturday with the Quakers frontcourt struggling mightily throughout the entire contest. Owens was limited to just 20 minutes by foul trouble. He finished with a mere four points and could not really establish an inside presence on offense. "There's been so much double-teaming, it's been hard to get a good feel," Owens said. "It's hard to get a couple easy shots to get you going." Owens' frontcourt mate, Onyekwe, also could not find his groove against the Rams. Onyekwe, who was slowed by an ankle injury for much of last week, failed to get into any kind of rhythm, hitting on just 4-of-13 shots in 32 minutes and missing several close high-percentage shots. "It hurts us a great deal," Dunphy said. "We're going to [Onyekwe]. He's a talented, talented guy, so once he starts finishing inside, that'll mean a lot to us." Penn certainly could have used a strong night from Onyekwe on Saturday, although that was not evident from the start. As the consolation game began before an arena filled with empty seats, it looked as though Penn would redeem itself from the previous night's loss to the Wolfpack. The Quakers raced out to an 19-9 advantage in the game's first six-and-a-half minutes. But then the Rams turned to forward Duke Freeman-McKamey, and the Quakers' interior defense could not do much to stop him. Freeman-McKamey scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half before getting into foul trouble himself, and Penn headed to the locker room with just a 33-32 lead at the break. Although the Quakers kept it close for the entire second stanza, the Rams' ability to get to the line and then knock down their shots once they were there spelled Penn's doom. "We need to do a better job simulating things in practice," Dunphy said. "And we have to get smarter about how we approach things defensively." Defense certainly proved to be a weak point for Penn this weekend, with Friday's loss to N.C. State playing out the same way the next night's game against Fordham would. Like the Fordham game, Penn jumped out to an early lead in the first game of the CoSIDA Classic. Plummer and Archibong each buried shots from three-point range in the opening minutes as Penn took a brief 8-2 lead. The Wolfpack, however, charged back to regain the lead and would never let the Quakers' regain control of the contest. Trailing by 33-28 at halftime, Penn had trouble containing N.C. State's frontcourt in the second half, and the Wolfpack was in the bonus with 9:10 left in the game. N.C. State guard Anthony Grundy also discovered a hot hand in the game's second 20 minutes. After making just one of his first nine shots, Grundy connected on his next six, finishing with a game-high 22 points. While the Quakers remained within striking distance for much of the second half, careless play and fouls let the Wolfpack expand its lead. As the game wound to a close and N.C. State's success from the line widened the gap between the two teams, Dunphy emptied most of his bench. "Overall, I think N.C. State has a real solid basketball team," Dunphy said. "I was pleased with some of the things that we did, but others, we can't make those kinds of mistakes in a place like this and win a game." Onyekwe, who did not start but quickly came off the bench to play 26 minutes, led Penn with 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting.Comments powered by Disqus
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