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The stellar play of junior guard Antonio Woods was one of the key reasons Penn was able to pull off the upset against Dayton.

Credit: Zach Sheldon

On Saturday, Penn men’s basketball capped off its eight game stretch away from home with a 78-70 victory over Dayton

The Quakers (8-4) outplayed the Flyers (4-5) for most of the contest, as Dayton led for only one minute and 55 seconds throughout the entire game. Here are the four biggest takeaways from this impressive Penn victory:

The Quakers are road-tested

As the past few years have shown, it's not easy to beat Dayton on its own home court. In the last three seasons, the Flyers have compiled a home record of 46-4, a key reason why they have appeared in the NCAA Tournament in each of those seasons. 

And while this year’s Dayton team does not seem to be quite of the same caliber as the teams of recent past after losing four key seniors and head coach Archie Miller, the Flyers’ home court advantage is not something that can be ignored.

Given this, Penn’s 78-70 win over the Flyers in Dayton shows how far the Red and Blue have come in becoming road-tested. Their 6-2 record during the three-week stretch away from home is impressive enough, but this win proves that Penn is not afraid to play in a raucous road environment.

“[I told the team to] go out and make plays, not make mistakes, and if we do make mistakes, just move on,” coach Steve Donahue said.

The Red and Blue took this to heart and remained composed throughout the game, even after surrendering a 16-0 run in the first half. They were also able to comfortably pull away at the end to complete the upset.

Closing the game was not a problem

Although Penn trailed for less than two minutes the entire game, Dayton kept it close and forced the Quakers to make winning plays down the stretch. Penn stood up to the task by locking down on defense and making clutch free throws when needed most.

With 3:34 to play in the game, the Quakers led, 65-63. From there, they rattled off a 9-2 run to take a 74-65 lead, highlighted by four made free throws from sophomore guard Ryan Betley and senior guard Darnell Foreman.

“I would take Darnell and Ryan in any situation [at the foul line],” Donahue said.

Overall, Penn was better from the charity stripe than in past games, as the team shot 13-for-18 (72 percent), an improvement from the 62 percent rate on the season entering today. In contrast, the Quakers did a terrific job of playing defense without fouling, only giving Dayton five free throw opportunities the whole game. 

Penn’s defensive execution was especially magnified in crunch time, as the Flyers managed to score just four points in a three-minute stretch starting at the 4:38 mark in the second half. The only way to beat a team in a road environment as hostile as Dayton’s is to play solid defense and make key foul shots, and the Quakers did both on Saturday.

Unbelievable three-point shooting propelled the Quakers to victory

While Penn’s defense and free throw shooting down the stretch was invaluable, the team’s lights-out shooting from beyond the arc was what carried the day. The Red and Blue did a great job of getting shooters open, and when players were open, they almost never missed their opportunity.

The Quakers shot an astounding 59 percent from three, compared to Dayton’s 35 percent. Senior Sam Jones led the way with a 5-for-6 performance from deep, in which he had more points (15) than minutes (13). Also shooting with efficiency from deep were Foreman and Betley, who went 2-for-3 and 3-for-6, respectively. 

A key factor that led to this three-point shooting clinic was the impressive passing display put on by Penn. Of the 26 field goals made by the Red and Blue, 20 were assisted. If the Quakers can continue to play with this efficiency, there’s no doubt that they will be competing for an Ivy League Championship come March.

Woods and Brodeur did it all for Penn

Filling up the stat sheet on Saturday were Antonio Woods and A.J. Brodeur. Woods, the junior guard, picked up 17 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists, which included a quick 8 points to propel Penn to a 21-7 lead early in the first half. 

Brodeur, as has been the case all season, was double-teamed for most of the night. He took advantage of this against Dayton by dishing a game-high seven dimes while still managing to score nine points and corral five rebounds.

However, perhaps the most significant contribution from the sophomore forward was what did not come up in the box score. By drawing the consistent double-team, Brodeur allowed his shooters — Jones in particular — to get open looks. Brodeur also drew two offensive fouls on Dayton forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, putting him in foul trouble and limiting his time on the court to just 16 minutes.

In total, Penn played great basketball when Woods and Brodeur were on the court. With Woods on the floor, the Quakers outscored the Flyers by 18 points, and with Brodeur out there, Penn had a 21-point advantage.