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Penn forward Cam Lewis helped anchor the Quakers' inside defense against La Salle on Tuesday night. He and Justin Reilly combined for seven blocks.

Tuesday night's Big 5 contest involved two young teams that produced one ugly game.

Both teams did a nice job of finding ways to get open looks, but neither could finish around the basket.

Penn was fairly successful in getting the ball into the post, but the forwards couldn't hit, and slashing layups seldom connected.

La Salle's guards on the perimeter and forwards in the high post did a great job of penetrating into the lane. Yet they were rarely able to put it in the hoop on the first try.

"We really struggled offensively," Explorers coach John Giannini said. "We missed a ton of layups,"

Their guards were too quick off the dribble, and their forwards were effective at pump-faking, but they still ended up with a ton of misses.

The typical possession featured La Salle pulling up a few feet from the basket and unsuccessfully tossing it up. A scrum of big men then battled it out for the rebound. As a result, La Salle had 15 offensive rebounds, and shot a measly 31 percent from the floor.

"We knew we could drive and dish on them, so that was the key," La Salle sophomore guard Rodney Green said.

Penn's defense around the basket, though, was also a major factor. Forwards Jack Eggleston, Justin Reilly and Cameron Lewis combined for seven of the Quakers' nine blocks.

And with Penn down by three with 45 seconds to go, Green got by Michael Kach up top, but Eggleston drew a charge to keep the game alive.

On offense, the Quakers found a different way to get the ball in the paint. While they often only had one big man posting up - most often Lewis or Reilly - they made a concerted effort to get him touches.

"It always is an emphasis [to get the ball inside]," Penn coach Glen Miller said. "If I'm fortunate enough to coach here in a few more years, it will be then too."

Getting the ball inside gives forwards the opportunity to kick it out for a three, hit a cutter or score on their own. Unfortunately for the Quakers, none of those really happened.

"They were switching [on screens], and that creates opportunities to slip," captain Brian Grandieri said. "I probably missed three layups underneath, and I bet as a team we missed eight or ten."

Surprisingly, Penn took very few threes on kickouts, and even those wide-open shots rarely fell.

And while often shooting from point-blank range, the forwards combined to score 16 points on 17 attempts, including going 2-for-6 from the line.

This was the real difference in the gamethe Explorers' inability to convert down low was negated by their 25-for-30 effort from the free throw line.

The 83-percent clip is notable, but the aggressiveness to create 30 attempts was especially impressive.

For a La Salle squad that starts a freshman and two sophomores, hard work can override experience.

"I'll go to war with these guys any day," Giannini said. "They're great people, and we're going to build this thing, even if it's not the prettiest process."

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