All year, the fans and critics of Penn basketball have blamed many of the team’s losses on the turnovers and lack of continuity on the offensive floor.
Tuesday night, the Quakers showed they can play a clean game, turning the ball over just 11 times.
They shot well throughout, too, making nearly 60 percent of their shots.
But they still lost.
Penn (2-12) allowed Lafayette (7-10) to shoot 61 percent from the field, making whatever offensive flow the Quakers found virtually meaningless.
“I have to respect the game enough to not put ourselves into that position,” coach Jerome Allen said. “I don’t think we deserved to win the game today. We didn’t deserve to win today as a team.”
“Tony Johnson dominated the game,” Allen said. “We couldn’t keep him out of the paint.”
Lafayette guard Tony Johnson dropped 25 points on the Quakers, as his quickness in the lane was too much for Penn to handle. He missed only four shots on the evening, taking 14.
Though there weren’t many rebounds to be had in a game where most balls were going into the basket, Penn still lost that battle as well. The Leopards outrebounded the Quakers, 26-22.
The Quakers came close to taking the lead after they had trailed by double-digits midway through the second half. The game was tied with two minutes left to go.
But as the Red and Blue have done so often, they allowed a wide-open three following two missed free throws by Darien Nelson-Henry, giving Lafayette a three point advantage.
With 34.5 seconds to go in the contest, the Quakers had an opportunity to take the lead. Without
Miles Cartwright on the floor, Tony Hicks attempted a 10-footer that clinked off the rim, ending Penn’s chance at a comeback.
A missed free throw by Lafayette gave the Quakers one final look to tie the game. Tony Hicks kicked it out to a wide open Steve Rennard, who missed a three-pointer to end the contest.
“Tony made an excellent play, driving into the paint,” Allen said. “He made the right pass.”
For the first time all season, the Quakers had five players score in double figures, even without the presence of junior Fran Dougherty.
Nelson-Henry came up big inside, putting up 17 points, as the Quakers ran a pick and roll with Nelson-Henry that worked more often than not.
“Since Fran’s been out, I’ve gotten a better feel for the game. It’s prepared me more for this season,” Nelson-Henry said. “It’s a matter of comfortability.”
Junior guard Dau Jok came up big too, but from downtown. He shot 4-for-7 from three-point range, putting up 18 points along with seven boards, the team high.
Nelson-Henry led the Quakers’ charge late in the game but it was Cartwright who kept the Quakers in the contest in the first half.
Cartwright did what the team asked of him, distributing the ball well. He had six assists in the first half and eight for the game, along with his 10 points.
The Quakers notched 22 assists to just 11 turnovers, five under their season average.
Allen stayed upbeat about facing Princeton Saturday.
“Last time I checked, Tuesday comes before Saturday,” he said.
Still, Saturday is closing in rapidly, and the Leopards they faced tonight will be replaced by Tigers. If the Red and Blue hope to keep their Ivy hopes alive, they better be prepared.
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