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Penn guard Andrew Toole hit all three of his shots from beyond the arc in last night's win over Lafayette. [Will Burhop/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

Lafayette - 66 Penn - 73

The Penn men's basketball team awoke from its offensive slumber at just the right time last night.

After a sleepy 30-point first half that had Penn trailing at the break, the Quakers played an intense and fast-paced second half to make sure the Lafayette Leopards (8-9) left the Palestra with a losing record.

Penn (12-4) bolted out of the locker room on a 19-5 spurt to obliterate Lafayette's tenuous one-point halftime advantage, and held on down the stretch to win its second straight non-league game, 73-66.

"We didn't shoot the ball especially well and we were kind of stagnant on offense," Penn point guard Andrew Toole said, describing the Quakers' first-half shortcomings. "We didn't move -- we weren't cutting, we didn't set screens -- and that's why we weren't getting a lot of shots."

Penn trailed for the final eight minutes of the first half, but turned it all around in second period of play thanks in large part to a run-and-gun offensive philosophy that had the Leopards teetering.

"We wanted to try to run a little bit so they couldn't set up their matchup [zone] because that was slowing us down [in the first half]," Toole said. "We started to get a flow and went on a nice little run there. Guys started hitting shots and we just kept gaining confidence from that."

Toole led the charge out of the locker room, and had what Penn coach Fran Dunphy called the best statistical game of the season. The Penn junior finished the night with a season-high 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting, nailed all three of his long-range attempts and hit 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Toole also added three assists, three steals, four rebounds and a lasting impression on a familiar visitor.

"Toole is just a terrific addition to their team," Lafayette coach and former Penn assistant Fran O'Hanlon said. "As Toole goes, they go. That's the missing ingredient from last year to this year. He did take over [last night]."

The Quakers' floor general also got a little bit help from sophomore swingman Jeff Schiffner, who had a big game himself.

Schiffner, a sharpshooter from behind the arc, shot an uncharacteristic 3-of-8 from downtown, but still poured in 18 points. Playing suffocating perimeter defense, Schiffner tallied four steals, one of which led to a fast-break three-point play that gave the Quakers an insurmountable 13-point lead with five minutes left.

O'Hanlon knew the game was all but over at that point, even with a Leopards squad that ranks 23rd in the nation in three-pointers made per game.

"[Penn] just has such great ballhandlers. We got as back in the game as we could get back," said O'Hanlon, whose team crawled to within seven points in the closing minutes. "With their ballhandlers and with their foul shooting, seven could be 15. They're just so good at handling pressure."

The Quakers, in fact, were good at handling Lafayette's pressure the entire second half, not just in the closing minutes.

After 10 first-half turnovers, Penn only lost the ball twice in the second stanza, adjusting to Lafayette's matchup zone and sporadic full-court press.

Another strong sign for Penn was its production on the offensive glass. Despite being outrebounded, 29-28, the Quakers pounded the boards for 10 offensive rebounds opposed to Lafayette's four.

"We got more shots [because] we did a great job of the tipping the ball back out again," Dunphy said. "We kept balls in play, a couple of guys did a great job with that."

One of those guys was freshman guard Tim Begley, who led Penn with three offensive rebounds to go along with his five assists. Ugonna Onyekwe was not another.

Whistled for two fouls in the first two minutes, Penn's usual star forward was pretty much absent from last night's victory, scoring eight points and adding just two rebounds in 22 total minutes.

"He's done this more than once," an unhappy Dunphy said. "[His first foul] was just a foolish over-the-top foul he can't make. He's got to learn to pick his spots a little bit. [But] we play without him enough that we understand that we have to someone else step up."

The Quakers were indeed able to survive without Onyekwe last night. The Leopards -- who are 0-23 lifetime against Penn at the Palestra -- were paced by guards Justin DeBerry and Brian Burke, who scored 16 and 13 points, respectively, but lacked a legitimate inside threat.

Still, the Quakers will surely need Onyekwe to stay out of foul trouble when they close out their non-league schedule with upcoming Big 5 contests against St. Joe's and La Salle, two teams that are bigger and more athletic than Lafayette.

And after a heartbreaking loss to Davidson and a somewhat lackluster win over Delaware, the Quakers are anxious to close out their out-of-conference schedule on a high note.

"[Since the Davidson loss], we've really focused on working on our defense and rebounding," Schiffner said. "The key to our game every night is to stay focused and play twice as hard as the other team. If we accomplish those team goals, we're going to do what we want to do."

A perfect 4-0 Big 5 record would certainly fall into that category.

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