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Penn guard Jeff Schiffner has emerged as the Quakers top threat from downtown this season. The sophomore is shooting 41 percent from behind the arc, having nailed 25 of his 61 attempts. [Will Burhop/DP File Photo]

Jeff Schiffner remembers his last trip to Boston all too well.

Sure, the 2000-01 Penn men's basketball team got off to a rocky start in out-of-conference play, but they couldn't possibly lose an Ivy League game.


Not after the Quakers had reeled off 25 straight league victories, clearly establishing themselves as the premier team in the Ivy League.

But then on a cold, blustery Boston night, the Harvard Crimson did the impossible.

In front of a raucous Lavietes Pavilion crowd on Feb. 9, 2001, then-senior Dan Clemente placed his teammates squarely upon his shoulders and carried the Crimson to a stunning 77- 62 upset over Penn.

Just like that, the longest conference win streak in the nation was over.

Just like that, the mighty Quakers had fallen.

"I remember being in that locker room," Schiffner said, his voice trailing off. "It was one of the toughest losses of the season."

The Quakers went on to lose three more road games last season, finishing their forgettable 2000-01 campaign with a 3-4 road record in the league and a warm seat on the couch for the NCAA Tournament.

This weekend, the Quakers will return to Boston, the city where it all fell apart, for another crack at Harvard. Penn will square off against the Crimson on Saturday, a night after facing Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H.

Certainly it will be a long, tiring trip against two quality Ivy League opponents, but, as freshman Tim Begley is quick to point out, the Quakers have already proved they can hold their own away from the Palestra.

"Our first trip to Georgia, that was one of the longest days of our lives," Begley, the Quakers' starting shooting guard, said. "And we got down there and beat Georgia Tech."

But Penn coach Fran Dunphy understands it's a whole new season now that Quakers have reached the Ivy portion of their schedule.

"There's just great parity in the league," Dunphy said. "That's the nature of playing in this league.

"There's no question going on the road is a tough task -- and the league has gotten a lot better," added Schiffner, who has averaged 10.4 points per game this season. "Going on the road for Friday and Saturday night is a tough test for our team."

The biggest test for Schiffner this weekend will probably be matching up against Harvard's terrific trio of guards -- Elliot Prasse-Freeman, Andrew Gellert and Patrick Harvey, who has emerged as the Crimson's go-to-guy.

These three have made the loss of Clemente much easier to bear in Crimsonland, as they have led their team to a 9-5 overall record and two early Ivy League wins against traveling partner Dartmouth.

While Schiffner has placed a lot of the burden on himself and his fellow guards to contain Harvard's lethal trio, Penn's swingman also noted that everyone on the team must contribute.

"I think the way to shut them down is good team defense," Schiffner said. "All five of us on the floor have to play defense together."

While Harvard's strength lies in its guard play, Dartmouth has survived this season from behind the arc.

The Big Green have a measly 6-7 overall record, with one of their losses coming to Binghamton, a school playing its first season in Division I.

But led by senior point guard Flinder Boyd, who is shooting a mind-boggling 61.8 percent from downtown, Dartmouth is just under the 40 percent mark from three-point range this season.

"If they get hot, it could be a long, long night," Dunphy said.

The Quakers remember all too well what those nights feel like. But this year's Penn team is pledging not too repeat last year's mistakes.

"This is it. This is what we've been waiting for," Begley said. "We're gearing up for this Ivy weekend. We can't wait to get started."

Let the fun begin.

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