If Friday's Ivy League tipoff against Harvard was any indication, this season is going to be a fight.
The Crimson scratched and clawed - and even wrestled - for 40 minutes, but it wasn't enough to give Penn its first home Ivy loss in four years.
The Red and Blue used a 20-point effort from Tyler Bernardini and a 15-point, nine-rebound, four-assist performance from Brian Grandieri to hold off Harvard, 73-69.
Late in the first half, Penn led by as many as nine, but had its lead cut to two just three minutes later. And after Harvard chopped down another eight-point advantage, the final seven minutes saw six lead-changes. Eventually, Grandieri scored five points in the final 2:22 to put Penn back on top for good.
Harvard point guard Drew Housman had an opportunity to tie with a three-pointer in the dying seconds, after Bernardini had lost the ball off his leg. But Housman was forced to heave up an off-balance shot that wasn't even close.
It wasn't a pretty way to start the Ivy season, but the Quakers will definitely take it.
"It was good to get the win at home in our first Ivy League game," Penn coach Glen Miller said. "I think you're going to see a lot of games like this throughout the Ivy season, that go right down to the wire."
Grandieri added, "We hadn't won in close to a month, but we're expected to win, at home especially."
Earning a victory against Harvard proved to be a battle. The game started off physically, reaching a climax after 11 minutes.
Following a non-call on Penn's offensive end, a frustrated Justin Reilly got entangled with Harvard's Evan Harris while the other eight players were at the other end of the court. Harris threw the Quakers forward onto the ground.
Reilly hit the top of his head and required five stitches (though he would return later). Andreas Schreiber went onto the court to push Harris, and Brennan Votel left the bench to restrain Reilly. Both were ejected for leaving the bench area.
Down three frontcourt players a quarter into the game, Miller - who had no arguments with the refs tossing Schreiber and Votel - knew his team was in trouble.
"It really affected our depth, and . we were in foul trouble too in the first half," Miller said.
Harris, who was only charged with a flagrant foul, went on to score 11 points and grab nine rebounds. He was about the only Crimson player to have success on the boards.
Penn out-rebounded Harvard 44-32, and by eight in the second half. Michael Kach had five, Jack Eggleston had six, and Grandieri ripped down nine boards.
Harvard coach Tommy Amaker noted that while Penn was "a little bit tougher on the backboard," that wasn't the most disappointing statistic for him.
"We were [getting into the lane and to the line], but are we going to convert from the foul line?" Amaker said. "We're not going to come out on top if we shoot 18-for-28 from the line against a very good team in our conference on the road."
Against an away side that hasn't won at the Palestra since the George H. W. Bush administration, a Penn loss would have been embarrassing.
The Quakers know they aren't the 13-1 squad of a year ago, but they aren't ready to give away the Ivy trophy.
"Grandieri hasn't lost an Ivy home game in his career, so there's a little bit of confidence and a little bit of pride there," Miller said. "And the fact that we're three-time defending champions, there's some pride there, too. We're not going to just roll over and play dead."Comments powered by Disqus
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