There were clear skies outside, but inside the walls of the Palestra, it was raining all night long. Just not for the Hurricanes.
Behind a blistering first half and a total of 13 threes, Penn men’s basketball held on to beat Miami (Fla.), 89-75, for an emphatic statement win.
The story of the night for the Quakers (7-2) was their three-point shooting. Especially in the first half, where they shot an incredible 61.1 percent from deep, the Quakers used the deep ball to build and maintain a double-digit lead for much of the game. Freshman forward Michael Wang led the way with five treys and 23 total points.
“We have really great confidence in our shooters, especially Mike,” junior forward AJ Brodeur said. “If he gets an open look, I don’t care if guys are running at him, trying to hedge over a screen, we want him to shoot that. If he doesn’t shoot that, then that’s when we start to get on him.”
The win is Penn's first over a Power Five conference team since the 2002-03 season.
Coupled with the lights-out shooting was the Quakers’ textbook fast-paced ball movement. All night long the Red and Blue were zipping passes around the court, as they finished with 24 assists. Everyone on the floor got involved with give-and-gos, inside-out looks, and cross-court feeds to find the open man. The assists totals showed that: Junior forward AJ Brodeur lead with six assists, while the guard trio of seniors Antonio Woods and Jake Silpe and junior Devon Goodman combined for 13 assists.
The Quakers took an early lead on a three from freshman guard Bryce Washington, but for the first 10 minutes or so, they were in front by just a few points with physical defensive play. The Hurricanes (5-4) brought the score to within three with eight minutes to play in the half, but Penn started to pull away behind a barrage of threes. Led by Wang, the Red and Blue opened up a sizable 50-36 lead at the break.
The game slowed down in the second half, but the Quakers continued to build on their lead. Instead of three-point shooting, it was the efforts down low led by Brodeur that helped the Quakers take as large as a 19-point lead.
But the Hurricanes didn’t go down without a fight. Slowly but surely, Miami clawed its way back into the game, as a five-minute scoring drought and a bevy of fouls by the Quakers allowed the Hurricanes to shrink the deficit all the way to four points with just three minutes left to play. All of the momentum was pointing towards the Hurricanes.
Enter Devon Goodman. The junior guard stopped the drought and brought the team — and the Palestra — back to life with two consecutive layups, pushing Penn's lead back up to nine. Both shots were heavily contested at the end of the shot clock, but the first was most impressive: an acrobatic, floating and-one layup off of a nice feed from senior forward Max Rothschild.
“I think there’s something about who he is that makes you feel like you can trust him," coach Steve Donahue said about Goodman. "He works extremely hard at his game, and I’m not surprised that the growth in his game keeps getting better.”
Coupled with a pair of turnovers by Miami and quality free throw shooting down the stretch, Penn was able to stave off the comeback.
“It just took a lot of grit,” Brodeur said. “That’s something we really pride ourselves on, going through the adversity.”
A double-digit win against a blue-blood ACC program is perhaps the most impressive win of coach Steve Donahue's tenure. In a week, the Quakers get a chance to top it against Villanova, the defending national champions.
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