Despite the fact that Penn men’s hoops hasn’t lived up to expectations in 2013-14, we can reflect on a squad that raised itself to great heights in 2005.
On Feb. 4, 2005, the Quakers were gearing up for a road matchup with rival Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion, a game that could either unseat or solidify the Red and Blue’s ranking atop the Ivy League.
Both teams started the game slowly as the squads combined to post only six points in the first four minutes of play.
But Penn eventually picked up steam and took an 18-7 lead. However, a barrage of three-pointers from Zach Martin pushed Harvard within eight.
Unfortunately for Penn, Harvard continued its tight defensive play and the Red and Blue squandered their 13-point lead. A 9-2 run by the Crimson late in the first half sent the Quakers into the break trailing, 35-29.
However, Penn came out and showed some resiliency by quickly nailing three baskets to tie up the score at 35.
At that point, it was time for senior captain Tim Begley to show exactly what he was worth.
“You just gotta make plays, and sometimes it’s going to be my chance,” Begley said.
The veteran spurred an 11-point run capitalized by two foul shots that increased Penn’s lead to 57-46. Begley dominated the floor by adding the next eight consecutive points for the Red and Blue.
The Quakers never relinquished their grip on Harvard despite a desperate effort in the last four minutes of regulation.
“I think we tightened up defensively,” then-Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. “Then we made some good decisions on the offensive end.”
Their good decisions eventually allowed Penn to seal up its victory. When Harvard took to fouling to extend the game late, the Quakers responded by going 5-for-6 from the charity stripe, all but sealing a season-defining 70-57 victory.
Begley scored 21 points on the night and snatched 10 rebounds to notch his third double-double of the season. The night was also an historic one for Begley as his one converted trey pushed him into second place on Penn’s all-time three-pointers list with 221.
However, Begley’s coach, Fran Dunphy, will remember him in a different way than the statistic.
“As I remember his career, I won’t think of him as a three-point shooter,” Dunphy said. “I’ll think of him as a very good basketball player.”
Sophomore Ibrahim Jaaber and senior Eric Osmundson also contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively, for Penn to aid the Quakers in their sixth-consecutive victory.
Dunphy reflected on Harvard’s squad by noting that they were “much improved” and “gave [the Red and Blue] everything [they] could handle there in the second half.” But on that night, the Quakers would celebrate their victory.
Penn would continue its hot play and capture the Ivy League title in decisive fashion, clinching a 13th seed in the NCAA tournament. Additionally, Tim Begley was named Ivy League Player of the Year and also a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy First Team.
While the Quakers continue to struggle this season, losing in their only trip to Lavietes Pavillion, their victory over Harvard back in 2005 is still something exciting to which one can turn back the clock.
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