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Several rather glaring empty spaces dotted the Penn student section last night against Delaware, but the turnout was nowhere near as lackluster as the shooting performance that opened the game.

For more than half of the game it looked as if Delaware would go down as an oddity in the Penn record books. The only question, after the Blue Hens managed only 13 points in the first half, was, how low would they go?

Perhaps the Red and Blue could hold them to less than 40, or even an unheard of 30. It seemed possible, but sadly for the Penn faithful, it was not to be.

Delaware, stifled by Penn guard Andy Toole's three steals and forward Ugonna Onyekwe's four blocked shots, found a spark after opening the game with a pitiful 4-of-32 shooting performance.

The Blue Hens found their stroke down the stretch, shooting 12-of-18 and pulling as close as four points in the closing minutes.

And Delaware had the opportunity for the comeback because the low scoring was somehow contagious.

For the first time this season, the Quakers did not crack 60 points, making last night's victory a 50-44 squeaker.

Only Onyekwe managed to score in double figures for the Quakers, who sunk a measly eight field goals in each half.

Penn was also subpar in the free-throw department, managing to go only 12-of-24 from the charity stripe.

Those struggles hurt the Red and Blue down the stretch, allowing the Blue Hens to foul late to get back into the game.

Although Penn's offensive output was nothing to write home about, the squad achieved its main focus -- solid defense -- in the wake of Harvard's 78 points on Saturday.

"We struggled a little bit there at the end, but I'll take it," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "Hopefully we'll improve again, but defensively I was pleased."

In a game that was marked by its low offensive output, the Quakers displayed their ability to completely shut down an opponent's offensive attack.

Penn's frontcourt tandem of Onyekwe and Koko Archibong, along with backup Jan Fikiel, was able to close off the lane in critical situations, forcing Delaware to rely on jump shots for most of the first half.

Penn's halfcourt defense was stifling, forcing its opponents into three shot-clock violations and 18 turnovers.

"Last week we talked about defense, defense, defense," Onyekwe said. "For the most part of the game we did a good job."

Most of the Blue Hens' scoring outburst in the second half was a result of breakaways following Penn turnovers.

Late in the game, Delaware took advantage of a turnover under the Penn hoop and an intercepted pass near half court to string together three unanswered baskets.

"We didn't get many looks in the first half," Delaware guard Austen Rowland said. "In the second half we started getting some easy buckets, and I think that is what sparked us to hit some shots in the half court."

Delaware's turnaround was also aided by its 18 offensive rebounds, allowing them to compensate for a sickly shooting percentage with a barrage of second-shot opportunities.

Penn's upcoming non-league contests against Lafayette, St. Joseph's and La Salle should give the squad a chance to work out the offensive kinks after its uncharacteristic offensive showing.

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