FORT MYERS, FLA. — At least they can rest well now.
Penn men’s basketball limped across the finish line of its third game in as many days at the Gulf Coast Showcase to beat the University of Missouri, Kansas City, 68-65.
In what has been a recurring theme all season long, the Quakers (4-3) shot out of the gate, taking a 10-0 lead in just four and a half minutes.
But the rest of the game was a trench fight, as fatigue settled in for both Penn and the Kangaroos (2-5). Four of the Quakers’ starting five averaged 30+ minutes a game for three straight days.
As such, the majority of the contest was dotted with sloppy plays and individual errors. Penn made just half of its 16 free throws, something coach Steve Donahue attributed to the fatigue.
“When you play three games in three days, and you play a team that presses you for 40 minutes, it’s a real test for you,” Donahue explained. “You saw some sloppiness with missed shots that we usually make, and even free throws — I think that has a lot to do with fatigue.”
Ten minutes in the second half, however, featured breathtaking play from the Quakers and ultimately won them the consolation game.
It started with a block from point guard Darnell Foreman.
Just as UMKC had drawn within four, the senior captain stuffed a Kangaroo who jumped towards the rim expecting an uncontested layup. The Quakers recovered the block and dished the ball down the floor to junior Jackson Donahue, who was lying in wait in the corner. Donahue drained his three and got the bench on its feet.
Before everyone could return to their seats, Foreman had recovered possession and dished the ball to Donahue, this time lurking in the opposite corner. Once again, the impact shooter swished his shot to complete a rapid momentum swing.
“We wanted to push it, and take advantage before their defense was set,” coach Donahue said of his team’s transition attack in the second half.
The Kangaroos threatened to level the game up later on, but after bringing it within three with 85 seconds left, they failed to score for the rest of the game. Penn ended its trip to Florida with two wins in three games and a bronze finish in a quality mid-major tournament.
Despite the fatigue from so much game time, the starters did most of the work for the Red and Blue. Leaving aside Donahue’s 11-point second-half hot streak, the bench only mustered up seven points. Junior center Max Rothschild led the team with 16 points after leading with a career-high 22 two days earlier. Sophomore Ryan Betley put up a dozen, while classmate AJ Brodeur and Foreman scored 11 apiece.
Foreman’s impact went far beyond the points column, however. With eight rebounds — which tied his career-high set just two days earlier — five assists, and the aforementioned block, the captain had an all-around performance rarely seen from a point guard.
“He did great,” Donahue raved. “He’s got a great floor game, great composure, and his ability now to score pretty consistently has made us a much better team.”
Penn returns to Philadelphia in high spirits and a positive record seven games into its young season. Its next challenge lies just three days ahead with a trip on Saturday to New Jersey to face a notoriously tricky Monmouth squad.
For now, though, there’s only one thing on Rothschilds’ — and his Quakers’ — minds:
“I’m tired. I’m ready to go home and eat some Thanksgiving dinner!”
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