The Quakers’ do-it-all point guard shook his defender, knifed through the defense and exploded for an and-one lay-in. In just a few moments an eight-point Penn lead became an 11-point lead and, with just 2:20 remaining, all but secured the win.
That’s when the final Zack Rosen serenade began.
Ros-eeen, Ros-en, Ros-en, Ros-eeeeen, the student section chanted.
In the 225th installment of the storied rivalry, the Palestra rocked once again. The Quakers rewarded their faithful with a stirring 82-67 win, maintaining pace with Harvard for first place in the Ivy League.
“[The crowd] did a great job of getting behind these guys and letting them know that they’re invested as well,” coach Jerome Allen said of the victory that ended Princeton’s five-game series streak. “You tend to play better, you tend to give more when you know people care.”
No Penn player has ever graduated without beating Princeton (10-9, 1-2 Ivy) at home. With a scorching start, Rosen quickly made sure he didn’t become the first.
Behind a raucous crowd of 6,835 — “It was rocking,” Rosen said afterward — Penn (11-9, 3-0) flew out of the gates with an 11-2 run. The Quakers ripped the nets from all angles early on, nailing seven of their first nine three-pointers to build a 34-18 lead. Rosen and fifth-year senior backcourt mate Tyler Bernardini alone poured in 22 of those points and six of the treys.
“They were just quicker to everything than us in the first half,” first-year Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said.
But the Tigers kept pace by shooting 68 percent in the first half themselves. Penn entered the locker room up eight, a lead Allen called an “illusion” because of his team’s shoddy defense.
Every time Princeton chipped away after the break — cutting the margin to as little as five — Rosen answered. He scored 28 points to pass Allen for eighth on Penn’s all-time scoring list, hitting bucket after momentum-killing bucket.
Backed by chants of “You can’t stop him!” the Quakers’ fearless leader controlled the game from tip to buzzer.
“We really had no response or answer for Zack Rosen,” Henderson said. “His understanding of tempo is special.”
If the Quakers keep firing on all cylinders, this season could turn into a special one. The rivalry rout gave them their first win over Princeton since Feb. 17, 2009. For the second straight year, a 3-0 start has put Penn in position to make a title run.
Rosen was hesitant to make anything of Monday night’s win because he remembers what happened last time around.
“We were 3-0 last year sitting at the same table,” he said. “And we were 3-4, four games later.”
The Quakers also couldn’t break the 60-point barrier in a pair of losses to the Tigers last season. Thanks to Bernardini’s outside touch, solid contributions from underclassmen Miles Cartwright and Henry Brooks, and a spark off the bench from guard Steve Rennard, Penn scored its most points against Princeton in 40 years.
Seniors Ian Hummer and Douglas Davis led the Tigers with 21 and 14 points, respectively. The teams will travel to Brown and Yale this weekend with 11 games now remaining in the Ivy tournament.Comments powered by Disqus
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