On Tuesday night, Penn basketball blew out Lafayette, 91-61, to continue its perfect start to the season.
The opening of the first half was closely contested. Through the first 12 minutes of action, Penn (3-0) and Lafayette (1-2) remained locked in a tight 19-19 contest.
But after a turnover-filled, back-and-forth start to the game, the Quakers pulled ahead and never looked back. After a TV timeout, Penn responded with two scrappy offensive rebounds, keeping the play alive just long enough for senior guard Antonio Woods to make a deep three.
The team then followed this play with a steal and transition dunk by junior guard Devon Goodman, which brought the crowd to a roar. This momentum was the push the Quakers needed to go on a 25-8 run to end the first half.
“This is a unique place. We’ve had guys in the program a long time and they’ve been willing to accept whatever roll [comes their way],” coach Steve Donahue said. “What you don’t see is great development. Devon Goodman is a junior and he’s one of the better guards in the league. He has an opportunity now.”
Goodman’s highlight plays continued all night. To end Penn’s first-half run, Goodman used his quickness to make a buzzer-beating layup with less than three seconds left on the game clock. He led all scorers with 16 points, including two three-pointers.
“I’m just taking it game by game. One of my keys in going into each game is leading by example and bringing the energy,” Goodman said. “Last year, I came off the bench, and my role has changed a little bit this year.”
The Quakers' defense stepped up to the challenge against a Lafayette team that was averaging 81.5 points per game coming into Tuesday's contest. Penn was able to hold Lafayette’s leading scorer, Justin Jaworski, to just seven points and the team to only 61 points, a season low. Before Tuesday, Jaworski was averaging 20.5 points per game.
“For the most part I thought we set the tone, keeping Jaworski and [Alex] Petrie at bay. I thought our defense really ignited our offense,” Donahue said.
Despite its perfect record, Penn has continued to find ways to improve. Coming into Tuesday’s contest, the Quakers were No. 252 in the nation in terms of free throw percentage, making free throws at just a 63 percent rate. Against Lafayette, the Red and Blue shot 88.9 percent, including a perfect five for five in the first half.
The Quakers' undefeated start has not gone unnoticed. This win comes just one day after Penn received a vote in the AP Top 25 College Basketball poll, although Donahue said he had not heard that Penn got a vote until he was asked about it after the game.
“Other things that go into the work or the qualitative approach of how we do things, how hard we work, execution, that’s kind of how we approach it and this is really just none of that,” Donahue said.
The blowout also allowed for several Penn players to make their first career appearances, as freshman forward Griffin Ryan and sophomore center Mark Jackson both entered the game for the final two minutes.
The next test for Penn will come this weekend in the 2018 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, where the team will face three opponents in just four days, starting on Friday night.
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