It's Tony Hicks' world and the rest of us are just paying rent.
Despite falling behind by 12 to begin the game and never leading until under a minute remained, Penn basketball rode the junior guard's 20 second half points and game-winning jumper with four seconds remaining to its sixth consecutive win over Cornell, 71-69.
The Red and Blue looked overwhelmed from the onset. The Quakers trailed 12-0 before the first media timeout, falling behind after two early Big Red three pointers and three buckets from Cornell senior forward Shonn Miller.
But Penn (7-11, 2-2 Ivy) fought back as a pair of threes from senior captain Cam Croker and freshman Sam Jones brought the Quakers back within single digits.
From that point on, Friday night's contest became a back-and-forth affair. Although the Big Red (10-11, 2-3) threatened to push their lead back to double digits heading into halftime, freshman guard Antonio Woods canned a three with 29 seconds left in the half to bring Penn back within six.
With the Quakers trailing 35-27 at halftime, Hicks -- Penn's leading scorer entering Friday's game averaging 13.4 points per contest -- had only notched five points. Woods had seven points at the break while senior Greg Louis and freshman Mike Auger picked up two fouls in the opening period.
As the second half raged on, Hicks and Miller did battle, putting their respective teams on their backs down the stretch. The Big Red managed to hold off Penn for a majority of the half, but the Red and Blue consistently kept the pressure on their New York rivals.
While Hicks managed to connect on a wide array of shots, including his game-winning floater in the lane, it was consecutive threes with 11 minutes remaining that tied the game, bringing Penn closer than it had been all game. The two baskets were part of 10 straight points scored by Hicks for the Quakers, keeping the Quakers within striking distance.
After Auger and Louis fouled out and the teams traded trips to the free throw line, the Big Red seemed on the verge of blowing the game open. A three by Miller with 5:03 left put Cornell up by eight and placed the ball squarely in the Quakers' court.
Largely because of Jones, Penn responded. The rookie knocked down a three to bring the Red and Blue within four before converting two free throws 40 seconds later to make it a one possession game.
With 1:44 remaining, the Big Red looked poised to clinch the game. Miller posted up Woods and hit a layup while drawing the foul to give Cornell a chance to go up by six.
However, after Miller missed the free throw, Woods came right back with a bucket and free throw of his own, bringing Penn within two with 1:26 left.
All that set the stage for Penn's final minute heroics. After Robert Hatter -- who scored16 points for the Big Red -- badly missed a three, the Quakers found Jones open via an off-ball screen. The freshman knocked down the jumper from beyond the arc, giving the Red and Blue their first lead of the day.
A foul on the next possession sent Miller to the line, but the veteran managed to convert only one of two shots. Immediately thereafter, Hicks ran the clock down under 10 seconds before driving to the hoop and sinking the floater.
Although Miller finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, it was Penn's junior captain's 25th point of the night gave the Red and Blue their fourth win in seven games. The Quakers will be back in action on Saturday against Columbia in New York City.
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