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Penn men's basketball Geoff Owens winds up on the floor after fighting for the ball in last night's loss 67-53 loss to Princeton. Owens scored the first six points for the Quakers. (Angie Louie/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

This wasn't the February 9, 1999 game -- when Princeton came back from a 26-point deficit to win, 50-49. This wasn't the March 2, 1999 game -- when Penn smacked the Tigers by 25 in Jadwin. This wasn't even the March 7, 2000 game -- when the Quakers capped a perfect Ivy season with a 73-52 win and a net-cutting ceremony. No, last night's 67-53 Princeton win over the Penn men's basketball team at the Palestra was rather ordinary. The game was ugly at some times, sloppy at others. It was rarely a basketball clinic. But it was still Penn-Princeton. And it still had a monumental effect on the Ivy League standings. Princeton (11-8, 6-1 Ivy League) now has a one-game lead over Penn (8-14, 5-2) with seven league games remaining for each team. "It's Penn-Princeton. It's what college basketball is all about," Princeton coach John Thompson III said. "This is a big win for us." But although Princeton never trailed in last night's game, it wasn't exactly easy for the Tigers. Late in the second half, the Quakers entertained thoughts of revenge for that monumental Princeton comeback two years ago. For Penn, it wouldn't have been quite as big of a comeback. The Quakers largest deficit had been 14 -- not 26, as Princeton's was two years ago. But it was certainly something. After a pair of Koko Archibong free throws, Penn had sliced the lead to six with 4:11 to go. And the Quakers fans were vibrantly alive. White balloon sticks were waving and the Palestra shook like a kettle drum. But the excitement and thoughts of a comeback were fleeting. Princeton guard Ahmed El-Nokali drove for a crushing layup that pushed the lead to eight. And then, following a Geoff Owens free throw, Princeton's Kyle Wente found himself open after a Penn trap and drained a three-pointer. The lead was at 10 and would increase to as much as 18 in the fouling frenzy of the last two minutes. Princeton had done what Penn couldn't two years ago -- stave off the comeback. "There was no sense of panic at all," said El-Nokali, who led all scorers with 17 points. The key to Princeton's win last night in the sold-out Palestra was patience. The Tigers had it. The Quakers did not. Sure, Princeton committed 11 turnovers. But the Tigers were content to run the shot clock down until they found a good shot. In the first half, most of those good shots were threes -- Princeton took 16 and made five. In the second half, the Tigers found openings inside with layups and the presence of 6'8" freshman Konrad Wysocki (12 points and 10 rebounds on the game). Penn, meanwhile, did have some opportunities --"To be quite honest about it, they just missed shots," Thompson said -- but the Quakers often rushed shots and had fewer open looks than the Tigers. "We're not a well-oiled machine by any stretch offensively," Dunphy said. Lamar Plummer, Penn's leading scorer this year entering last night's game, totalled just four points on 2-of-12 shooting and missed all six of his three-pointers. "I think we made a conscious effort knowing at all times where Plummer was," El-Nokali said. But it wasn't just Plummer who struggled offensively. Excluding center Geoff Owens, who led the Quakers with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, Penn shot 26 percent from the field. The Quakers scored only 13 points in the first half and trailed by 12 at the break. Penn had won the opening tap, but Plummer missed a three-pointer and Princeton forward Andre Logan hit a one-handed turnaround to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Penn would get no closer the rest of the game. "I would say that it's very, very disappointing right now," Owens said. "This was one of my last home games at the Palestra and my last Princeton game at home. A win would have given us a leg up in the Ivy League." News and Notes Of the last 24 Penn-Princeton games, 15 have been decided by 11 or more points... The team to win the first Penn-Princeton game has swept the series in nine of the last 10 years. The lone exception is the 1998-99 season.... The Tigers took 19 free throws in the final 1:56 last night. They made 17.

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