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It was another tough Big Five loss for coach Jerome Allen, who has struggled throughout hsi coaching career against the Big Five.

Credit: Thomas Munson

If you wanted to see high-scoring turnover-filled basketball over winter break, Tom Gola Arena was definitely worth a look.

The Big Five is always a tough challenge for Penn Basketball and Tuesday was no exception, as La Salle built an early lead and held on for an 84-67 win over the Quakers.

“To be honest with you, I don’t really know where we’re at. After the Marist game, I thought we were taking steps forward. We come out the last two games and I question our competitive spirit,” coach Jerome Allen said.

“It starts with me. I have no problems with losing, it’s just how you lose. ”

Early on though, the Red and Blue (3-7) were certainly in the game. With both teams shooting lights out, Penn kept pace with the Explorers (8-5), down just 1 point at the 11-minute mark of the first half.

However, La Salle quickly found its footing and converted a series of Penn turnovers into a 13-3 lead to take a decisive lead. Sophomore guard Jordan Price continued to lead the way (as he has all season), pacing the Explorers with 13 points in the first half.

Penn brought things within 7 before the end of the half, but La Salle would take a 47-35 lead into halftime and never take their collective foot off the pedal.

Early in the second half, Penn junior guard Tony Hicks picked up his third foul of the game and stayed on the bench for most of the second half. Hicks finished with 10 points and played just 16 minutes.

La Salle expanded its lead to as much as 22 down the stretch, and never looked in danger of relinquishing control.

“They did a great job of imposing their will,” Allen said of La Salle’s late game dominance.

“They were able to get out and play free. Whether it was in transition or off the bounce or on the block.”

In the end, the Quakers lost the game on the glass, allowing La Salle to gather 35 rebounds to their 21. The Explorers also dominated the offensive glass, securing 16 offensive rebounds.

“They had more offensive rebounds than we had total rebounds in the first half. Credit to them, they imposed their will on us,” Allen said.

“We’re not good enough to not cover those areas and expect to win.”

Freshmen continue to drive the storylines for the Quakers, as forward Mike Auger returned after missing the past six games with a foot injury. He picked up where he left off and ended the game with 9 points off the bench.

“I thought [Auger] was tremendous. He was physical, he played hard and he competed,” Allen said. “It was good to see.”

Fellow freshman forward Sam Jones didn’t see much playing time early and looked rusty when he was on the floor, missing all three of his shots.

Moving forward, the Quakers won’t take the floor until January 10th, when they travel into New Jersey to take on rival Princeton.

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