Penn men’s basketball started Friday with the announcement that junior captain and leading scorer Tony Hicks was been suspended for the weekend’s games against Harvard and Dartmouth.
Matters only became worse from there.
The Quakers suffered a 69-46 slaughter at the hands of the four-time defending Ivy League champion Crimson at Lavietes Pavilion Friday night, as Harvard won its 7th straight contest and Penn coach Jerome Allen recorded his 100th loss at the helm of the program.
Wesley Saunders led the way for the Crimson (18-5, 8-1 Ivy) with a game-high 15 points while shooting 77.8 percent from the field, and Steve Moundou-Missi added 14 points to go along with four offensive rebounds.
Playing without Hicks, who averages 13.0 points per game, the Quakers (7-15, 2-6) committed just three turnovers in the first half and entered the intermission down, 31-24, in large part due to 14 early second-chance points for the Crimson.
The Red and Blue managed to cut the lead down to 31-28 with 17:23 remaining in the second half, but after that point, the tide turned for good. The Crimson went on a 23-6 run that included a nearly seven-minute scoring drought for the Quakers. Harvard’s lead didn’t fall below 18 for the remainder of the contest, as Penn committed 11 turnovers in the second half.
Without Hicks in the lineup, sophomore guard and Penn soccer player Matt Poplawski earned the first start of his career due to his work ethic and attitude, according to Allen.
“It was something that he earned and he deserved,” Allen said. “He worked hard every day in practice. He’s selfless. He’s a team guy.”
Despite his excitement to find his way into the starting lineup, Poplawski noted the entire team’s disappointment at the news of Hicks’s suspension.
“It was tough to hear. He’s the leader on our team, so we definitely wanted him with us,” Poplawski said. “But at the same time, he wants us to do well whether he’s here or not … regardless of who’s here, we’re going to try and play the same way every single game.”
Poplawski played only 16 minutes, but he was helped in trying to fill Hicks’s shoes by freshman Darnell Foreman, who added seven points to go along with two assists and two steals in 24 minutes.
In addition to losing the battle for second-chance points, 20-4, the Quakers struggled to get to the free throw line, as guard Antonio Woods stepped up to the charity stripe for the first time with 4:28 left in the game.
Though a few calls potentially went the Crimson’s way thanks to home-court advantage, Allen thought the lack of free throws ultimately fell on his team’s shoulders.
“You’re playing on the road, Division I basketball, and not to say that the officials were in Harvard’s favor, but …you have to force them to call a foul, and I didn’t think we did a good job of that tonight,” Allen said.
Freshman guard Antonio Woods tallied team highs of 12 points and four assists, while Matt Howard followed his 19-point performance against Brown with 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
The loss represents the Quakers’ fourth straight loss and drops Allen’s career record at Penn to 63-100. The Red and Blue will try to rebound on the road Saturday against Dartmouth, who upset Harvard earlier in the year, 70-61.Comments powered by Disqus
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