As Penn basketball was trying to flip the script on its early season woes, a huge shot from a young contributor gave the Red and Blue exactly the boost they needed.
Following a heartbreaking loss to Wagner on Nov. 29, the Quakers managed to rebound with strong performances from their pair of star juniors to notch their first victory of the season against Navy, 57-46.
Junior guard Tony Hicks scored 14 points and added eight assists, junior forward Darien Nelson-Henry recorded his first double-double of the season and rookie guard Darnell Foreman added nine points of his own — including a key jumper in the lane midway through the second half — for the Red and Blue (1-5) in Wednesday night’s win.
Over the course of the early portion of the season, Penn had looked good in stretches, but failed to close out games in which it played well. Nowhere was that trend more evident than last weekend’s matchup with Wagner, a game in which the Quakers led for 37 minutes before faltering down the stretch.
Wednesday’s contest proved to have a similar setup. In the end, the difference was Penn’s resiliency when it counted.
After going on successive scoring runs in the first half, the Red and Blue pushed their lead to 19 points after halftime before ultimately fending off a late Midshipmen run to seal the win.
“It’s kind of like [the movie] ‘Groundhog Day, '” coach Jerome Allen said. “You just keep trying and trying to win games and until you can push through at the end, it feels like it takes you forever to reach your goal.”
“Thankfully we were able come through today.”
Although Navy (2-6) utilizes a slower pace of play than Penn is accustomed to seeing from its opponents, the Quakers didn’t appear to be phased. The Red and Blue pushed the tempo from the tip, a pace that kept the squad afloat as the two sides traded baskets in the early going.
But with the score knotted at 10 several minutes in, the Quakers surged ahead with a combination of three-pointers and stifling defense. After a Hicks trey sparked a 9-2 Penn run, the Red and Blue added another eight consecutive points due in large part to two triples from freshman Sam Jones.
“In the first half, I thought we did a good job of getting shots at the basket and limiting our turnovers,” Allen said. “We managed to share the ball with one another, put together some assists and play our best half of basketball of the season.”
After turning the ball over 22 times against Wagner, the Quakers recorded only four giveaways in the first half while racing out to a 38-21 halftime lead.
Though Penn pushed its lead to 19 with 12 minutes remaining, the Midshipmen fought back. Navy limited Penn to three points over the next six-plus minutes while cutting the deficit to eight.
But with 5:25 remaining, Foreman hit a key jumper in the lane to push the Quakers’ lead back to double digits. While Penn scored only three more points, Navy’s inability to knock down shots helped the Red and Blue seal the win.
The Quakers will be back in action on Saturday afternoon when they travel to New York to take on Binghamton.Comments powered by Disqus
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