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Mens Basketball vs Princeton Credit: Ilana Wurman , Ilana Wurman, Ilana Wurman

After hanging tough with No. 5 Villanova on Saturday, Penn basketball will look to take down Monmouth as the young squad continues its five-game home stand.

With the bulk of Ivy League play looming, the Quakers (4-9) look to continue their success against MAAC teams ­­— having won two of three games against the conference this season with wins over Marist and Niagara. In Wednesday’s game against the Hawks (9-9), the Red and Blue must also turn around their performance at the Palestra, where the squad is just 1-4.

“[A win] would give us a lot of confidence going in [to Ivy League play],” freshman guard Antonio Woods said. “We need to get a win on our home floor.”

Penn won last year’s contest against the Hawks 79-73 on the road, led by a double-double from Darien Nelson-Henry and 13 points from Tony Hicks.

Hicks, who leads Penn in scoring this season, will look to bounce back from an 0-for-five night from behind the arc against Villanova.

One of the matchups to watch is Hicks against Monmouth guard Justin Robinson. Both are dynamic scorers who can carry their teams and stuff the stat sheet.

The Quakers must be wary of Robinson on both ends of the floor. The 5-foot-8 guard leads the Hawks in points per game (12.6), assists (68) and steals (30). He enters the contest coming off a school record-tying eight-steal performance in Monmouth’s 77-70 victory over Fairfield.

“I think [Monmouth is] a much better team than the team we faced early last year,” coach Jerome Allen said. “Justin Robinson has improved immensely.”

The Red and Blue — who commit 17 turnovers a game — will pay if they continue to be careless with the ball against the opportunistic Hawks.

Using its advantage on the boards will be another key for Penn against Monmouth. Led in the paint by Darien Nelson-Henry and Mike Auger, the Quakers boast a +3.4 rebounding margin, while the Hawks get outrebounded by nearly four per game.

If there’s one player the Quakers need to watch out for in the paint, it’s forward Brice Kofane. The 6-foot-8 senior has racked up a whopping 41 blocks this season.

“They play hard, they play together, they really defend and try to keep you out of the paint,” Allen said of the Hawks. “It should be a good test for us.”

If Penn struggles to penetrate Monmouth’s zone defense, it will need to elevate their three-point game to secure a win — the Quakers average of 25 percent shooting beyond the arc in the last two games won’t cut it.

As one of the most promising rookies, Antonio Woods will likely continue to be a focal point of the offense against Monmouth. The 6’1” guard posted a career-high 18 points — including several big threes — to pace the Red and Blue against Villanova.

“I just need to have the belief that I can play with anyone I play against,” Woods said. “That’s my mindset going forward.”

Saturday’s near upset of Villanova shows that Woods’ mindset has been adopted by the rest of the team. Only time will tell if Penn can translate this attitude into action with a win against Monmouth.

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