In dramatic fashion, the Quakers finally got the finish they were looking for.
In Friday’s Ivy home-opener at the Palestra, Penn (4-15, 1-1 Ivy) was able to clinch the win, 62-58, after struggling to maintain its close lead to the final buzzer.
With less than two minutes to go in the second half, the matchup against Columbia (9-8, 1-2) was still far from decided. Lions’ senior guard Brian Barbour sank the game-tying trey to bring this game down to the line.
Barbour and senior center Mark Cisco put up quite a fight against Penn, scoring 21 and 15 points respectively.
“Barbour and Cisco do an excellent job leading their group,” Penn coach Jerome Allen said. “They play hard. They play the right way. We knew it was going to be a tough game for us. To our guys credit, they made plays when we needed plays.”
But it was the literal line — the Quakers sank 26 of their 29 free throw attempts — and a clutch performance from junior guard Miles Cartwright that clinched the game for the Red and Blue.
“It got down late into crunch time,” Cartwright said. “I just knew that we needed something, whether it was a bucket or a pass or anything. I knew we need something down the stretch.”
A minute later, with 26 seconds left in the game, Cartwright netted a long jumper from the corner to put the Quakers up by two and initiate the fouling game after a missed shot on the Columbia end by Barbour, who had tightened the game a minute earlier.
“[The free throw shots were] big, especially for a team making runs,” Allen said. “They’re put in a situation where they have to foul in order to stay in the game, you need guys to step up and make free throws.”
On the other end, strong defense on the Lions aided the Quakers, who kept a usually strong perimeter team to 17.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
“You can’t expect to win shooting 33 percent from the field and 17 percent from three,” Columbia coach Kyle Smith said. “But we had a chance.”
This victory did not come without some struggles for the Quakers, who had quite the second-half fight from the Lions.
But in a last-minute performance unusual for Penn this season, the Quakers were able to finish the 40 minutes with a result this team has struggled to attain in past match-ups.
“We haven’t been particularly great in these types of situations this year, but I’m really grateful to have won,” Cartwright said.
The Quakers were continually challenged by Columbia, which frequently tied up the game and kept the deficit small.
As the game began, Columbia quickly jumped to a 7-2 advantage, but this Lions dominance did not last long. Halfway through the first frame, the game was tied, 9-9, in this slow start. But Penn was able to keep the points coming, nine of which came from the charity stripe, and it held the Lions to 19 first-half points, even with their nine offensive rebounds during the frame.
And though junior forward Fran Dougherty’s return didn’t get off to a fast start, scoring five points in 18 minutes of play — 15 of which were in the second half — he was able to make himself noticed with a major rejection on Columbia late in the second frame.
“Fran is great,” Cartwright said. “We’re going to need him to win, especially to win a championship. He’s still getting is rhythm back, trying to get his feel back, but he’s going to be great down the stretch.”
The Quakers also saw a solid performance from freshman center Darien Nelson-Henry, who notched 11 points and had four blocks in his 26 minutes of play.
But it was Cartwright who shined throughout the game.
After some last-second heroics from Cartwright — including 22 points on the night and a 10-for-10 performance from the charity stripe — the junior guard was able to secure the ‘W’ for Penn in crunch time.
“[Cartwright] made a big shot down the stretch, breaking the tie and kind of giving the momentum a little bit back on their side,” Barbour said. “They got that lead and that momentum early that kind of gave them that fire to stay in the game.”
The Quakers will be back on the court Saturday night at 7 p.m., as they take on Cornell to finish the weekend.Comments powered by Disqus
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