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M.Basketball vs. Delaware State Credit: Thomas Munson , Thomas Munson

The Quakers certainly had their chances.

There were a pair of shots for Darien Nelson-Henry down the stretch. A missed Tony Hicks turn-around as time expired. A stolen inbounds pass with just seconds remaining in overtime. The list goes on.

But Penn basketball couldn’t pull out the win in regulation and in overtime, Delaware State put together the plays when it needed to winning, 77-75.

“We prepared to win a basketball game for a number of weeks and we came up short,” coach Jerome Allen said.

“We played hard, but we didn’t always play smart. At critical times, when we needed good possessions on both ends of the floor, it didn’t happen. We’re going to learn from the tape and we’ll get better.”

The Quakers (0-1) came out of the gate slow, falling behind the Hornets (1-0) by 10 in the first six minutes. But with hustle on the offensive glass, Penn mounted a comeback and went into the half ahead by one, 35-34.

Junior guard Tony Hicks was effective in the first half, scoring 10 of his game-high 31 points, but came out even stronger in the second.

Late in the second half, the Quakers began to claim a sizable lead, yet the Hornets continued to keep things close. After a missed transition layup by junior center Darien Nelson-Henry with about three minutes to go, the Red and Blue were still ahead 65-61.

A few plays later, Delaware State tied the game up at 65 with a little over a minute to go.

With about 15 seconds to go, freshman guard Darnell Foreman tried to thread a tough pass after Hornets forward Aric Dickerson missed an open three. Luckily for the Quakers, it skipped out of bounds off a Hornets defender, setting up the final play.

Hicks had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation on a turnaround jumper from the right block, but he was unable to convert.

“It was just a play that didn’t go down,” Hicks said.

In overtime, the Hornets got an early basket and never looked back, never letting the Quakers claim the lead. After a missed Hicks three-pointer, Hornets guard DeAndre Haywood knocked down a pair of free throws to ice the game.

The story of the night early on for the Quakers was the rise of the freshmen, as Mike Auger, Sam Jones, Antonio Woods and Darnell Foreman all saw very serious minutes. Foreman and Woods split duty at the point guard spot for most of the game and combined for 10 first-half points.

In total, the freshmen accounted for 102 of the team’s 225 minutes.

“They played hard. It was what I expected from preseason and practice,” Hicks said of the freshmen’s performance. “They stayed positive the entire game. I think the mental part was the most important.”

Allen utilized small-ball lineups throughout, either running with four guards at a time or with Jones as a stretch-four. Delaware State put serious emphasis on preventing Nelson-Henry from getting his game going inside, and the Quakers reacted.

“We knew he was going to draw a lot of attention. To his credit, he was poised. He didn’t force anything,” Allen said.

”He played 28 minutes tonight. If we can have him competing at that level for that block of time, I think eventually he’s going to be fine.”

Penn dominated the offensive glass early in the game, coming up with 21 offensive rebounds. By keeping possessions alive, the Quakers were able to capitalize on second-chance points and keep themselves ahead for much of the game despite Delaware State’s shooting.

Yet toward the end of the game, the Hornets began to turn around the rebounding margin and won the margin during the second half and overtime.

Moving forward, the Quakers host Rider on Tuesday at the Palestra.

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