ELON, N.C. - Trailing late in the game, with their leading scorer on the bench, and a free throw percentage well under 60 percent, Penn seemed on the verge of being upset by 3-9 Elon. But Ibrahim Jaaber, without the assistance of forward Mark Zoller who fouled out with three and a half minutes remaining, helped guide Penn to a 66-64 win with two big plays on the offensive side of the floor that secured the slim lead for Penn.
Down by two with 2:16 to play in the game, Jaaber - who finished only 1 for 5 from behind the arc - hit a three pointer that gave Penn (7-6) a one point lead. After a pair of free throws by Elon (3-10) put Penn back down by one, Jaaber guided the ball in to Mike Kach, who sank an acrobatic layup for the hoop and the harm.
Kach's three point play with 1:38 remaining gave Penn a lead it would not relinquish. The junior guard, who had eight points on the night, took the pass from Jaaber under the basket and guided the ball in with a reverse layup as he was hit by Elon forward Chris Chalko. Kach's subsequent free throw put the Quakers up 62-60 and Brian Grandieri's layup on Penn's next possession made it a four point game.
The Phoenix would get a chance to tie or win the game on the final possession, however, after Tommy McMahon missed two of his four free throws in the final minute. Trailing by two with seven seconds remaining, Elon guard LeVonn Jordan took the ball up court and got off a shot from inside the lane that hit the rim and bounced away harmlessly as time expired.
McMahon was not the only Quaker that struggled from the line. Penn made only 13 of their 25 free throws including a 1-for-4 effort by Kevin Egee. It was an unusually poor performance from a team that has only hit 66 percent of its free throws on the season.
In the first half, head coach Glen Miller opened up his bench and used ten different players. The result was 17 points from a bench that has struggled throughout the non-conference season. Notably, not among the players that saw time was Darren Smith who did not dress for the game.
After opening up in a man defense, the Quakers found themselves down seven after only two minutes. Miller responded by switching to a zone which the Phoenix exploited with their long range shooting. Elon shot 47 percent from behind the arc including a pair of three pointers on consecutive possessions by Chalko late in the second half which brought the Phoenix back from a nine point deficit with just under ten minutes remaining. Chalko would finish five for nine from three point range.
The Quakers will enter the Ivy League season a game above .500. On Friday, Penn opens its conference schedule at Cornell and on Saturday will travel to New York to face Columbia.Comments powered by Disqus
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