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Penn forward Steve Danley ducks between two Drexel defenders last night at the Palestra. The freshman notched nine points in nine minutes for the Quakers. Fellow freshmen Mark Zoller and Ibrahim Jaaber also made appearances in the lineup. [Bill Wells/

The rowdy fans decked in yellow and blue, the boisterous chants and the herd of cheerleaders nearly had the Palestra convinced last night that it was, in fact, Drexel's house.

That is, until tipoff.

Once the ball was in play in last night's matchup of West Philadelphia rivals, it became clear that, despite a host of dedicated Drexel supporters, Penn was still the team to beat.

Despite sporadic bursts of productivity from the Dragons, Penn cruised to a relatively easy 79-73 victory.

And unlike last year -- when the Dragons defeated Penn -- the Quakers grabbed the lead from the start and never looked back.

Backed by the solid play of its senior starters, Penn only allowed Drexel to go ahead once, just six minutes into the matchup.

And unlike last season's game, when the Quakers went 9-for-31 from behind the arc, Penn managed to spread out its attack.

Although Drexel forward Sean Brooks dominated the early parts of the inside game, dropping six of Drexel's 14 points in the first eight minutes, Penn senior center Adam Chubb refused to back off.

Despite early defensive woes, Chubb added 19 points to the Quakers' winning effort, as well as six rebounds and three assists.

As usual, senior shooting guard Jeff Schiffner was integral in Penn's win, adding depth to the Quakers' attack with his deadly jump shot from behind the arc. Schiffner dropped 20 points and brought down six rebounds, good enough to be leading scorer on the night.

Schiffner and Chubb were boosted by the solid play from Penn's bench, which contributed 18 of the Quakers' 42 first-half points. Six non-starters came off the bench for the Quakers in the first half alone, and at least two accumulated substantial minutes on the court by the final buzzer.

"I'd like to play as many guys as we can," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "I think we're in pretty good shape in terms of depth. I feel good about the number of guys we have the ability to use throughout the game."

Freshman forward Steve Danley, in particular, aided Penn's inside game. The Germantown, Md., native dropped seven points in the first half and slammed home an emphatic dunk in the second half to stymie Drexel's hope at a comeback. Danley's nine short minutes took the pressure off Chubb, as well as junior forward Jan Fikiel, who accumulated two early fouls.

"He had a basket in the second half, this dunk, then he hung on the rim for about a week and a half," Dunphy said.

"He gave some really great minutes for [Chubb] in particular, in the first half."

Danley's seven points contributed to an 11-point halftime lead for the Red and Blue.

Junior Eric Heil proved himself a worthy sixth man in last night's contest as well, finishing with 10 points, three rebounds and an assist.

As Drexel tried to edge its way back into the game down the stretch, Heil hit a particularly crucial three-pointer with just over seven minutes remaining.

Despite Penn's dominant play and its consistent lead throughout the game, Drexel had its chances to come back. The Dragons came within six points of the lead multiple times down the stretch, but could never make it over that final hurdle. With 10 seconds to go, Drexel brought the game to 75-71, but failed to capitalize on the shrinking lead.

Drexel was hampered by foul problems throughout the second half.

"We made some big mistakes in the heart of the game," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "And we didn't make our foul shots.

"Every time we made a big mistake, they took advantage of it."

"We know that [Drexel is] always a really hard-nosed team," Chubb said. "I know that us three seniors -- Charlie Copp, Jeff Schiffner and myself -- really took it upon ourselves to make sure that we provide the leadership for this team. "We've tried to bring together a cohesive unit."

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